Revised Tautology FAQ - Thread-4

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Friar Broccoli

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Sep 27, 2009, 4:51:43 PM9/27/09
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Summary:
~~~~~~~~
The claim that evolutionary theory is unscientific or
unfalsifiable because it is a tautology rests on a
misrepresentation of, and focus on, the expression "Survival of
the Fittest" (SoF) as well as a misunderstanding of the
characteristics of a various categories of tautologies and how
they apply in scientific theories.


Historical Introduction to the Tautology Argument
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The tautology argument grew out of a change made by Darwin to
his fifth edition (published Feb. 10 1869) of his "On the Origin
of Species". He changed the title of the fourth chapter from
"NATURAL SELECTION" to "NATURAL SELECTION; OR THE SURVIVAL OF
THE FITTEST." (SoF) He wrote that he did this because "Several
writers have misapprehended or objected to the term Natural
Selection" on the basis that nature can't "select" in the way
that man can "select".

Beginning from Samuel Butler's charge in 1879 that natural
selection is a "truism", this led to a focus on the phrase SoF
and the assertion that because survival rates define fitness,
"'fittest' has no force" and thus natural selection and hence
the whole of the theory of evolution explains nothing.


An attack on the phrase SoF, not Evolution itself
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Here, note that an attack launched against the phrase SoF was
immediately widened to include "Natural Selection", despite the
obvious fact that selection by nature is no more tautological
than selection by man. And typically it is then further widened
to include all of evolution. In 1969 Richard Lewontin, among
many others, highlighted the absurdity of this inference by
pointing out that evolution is the consequence of three
unchallengeable observations:

(1) There is phenotypic variation; the members of a species do
not all look and act alike.

(2) There is a correlation between parents and offspring.
[...]

(3) Different phenotypes leave different numbers of offspring in
remote generations.

Since this description of evolution is simply a statement of
observations, evolution itself cannot be a tautology even if the
phrase SoF is.


The Basic Tautology Attack
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Having shown that the Theory of Evolution itself is not
threatened by an attack on SoF as a tautology we can now take a
more detailed look at that subject:

A simple version of the so-called 'tautology argument' is this:

- Through the process of natural selection, the 'fittest' survive.

- Who are 'fittest'? The ones who survive.

- Thus natural selection merely asserts that those who survive
survive, a tautology. It just says the same thing twice.

- As a tautology, it cannot be tested because it cannot be
false. Since theories which cannot be falsified cannot be
scientific, evolution itself is not scientific.

Before dealing with this argument, we must first ask:


What is a tautology?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

According to the Oxford English Dictionary - Its first citation
is from 1579: "It is a foolish tautologie, for you sayed the
same immediately before."

According to the Online Dictionary of Language Terminology
the word derives from the late Latin tautologia, representation
of the same thing. It ultimately derives from the Greek tauto,
the same + logos, saying. And it is there defined as "Repeating
what has already been said."

Thus it seems to have begun as meaning: being redundant as by
repeating the same thing. That seems harmless enough, but this
usage has been subtly expanded.

Consider some commonly cited examples like "married husband"
"new innovation", "free gift", "cold ice", "tuna fish" or
"lubricating grease". All these cases are considered to be
tautologies because an adjective (like lubricating) describes
one of the necessary properties of the subject (here grease).
Note that some can also viewed as tautologies because the
subject (grease again) is an obligate member of the class
(lubricants) which modifies it. Thus we have moved from saying
that a tautology is a repetition of the "same thing" to
repeating the "thing" and one of its _necessary_ properties or
one of the classes of which it is a member.

We also see examples of tautologies using a form of equivalence
as in "All husbands are married men." or "All ice is cold" In
the first example we see that the equivalence is the same idea
expressed with different words and is actually a definition. In
the second case the equivalence is between a thing and one of
its defining properties.


Tautologies used to prove God
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
During the late middle ages it was fashionable among
philosophers to use premises they saw as self evidently true by
virtue of their semantic tautological form. For example: "God
is a being which has every perfection." (perfection being a
necessary property of God) and "A thing cannot be perfect if it
does not exist." to construct ontological proofs of God's
existence. Several late enlightenment philosophers crushed
these arguments by pointing out that, among other things, these
arguments reduce to the form:

God _is_ P (that is, God exists with some properties) therefore
God _exists_, which is clearly a simple repetitive tautology
and thus nothing more than an assertion that God exists.

No matter your position on God's existence, these arguments
make it clear that a tautology can form no part of a _proof_.
However note that, SoF is not a proof, it is simply a statement
that refers to a model of observations.


Tautologies in Formal Logic
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Finally, in the early part of the nineteen hundreds tautologies
were incorporated into formal logic using statements like "p=p"
and "p or not p" which could be formally evaluated with truth
tables [LINK to be added]. Tautologies here might be described
as statements that cannot be FALSE, although this may vary
depending, among other things, on the particular logic language
being applied. However, for the most part, compared with the
semantic form, logical tautologies follow rules that are
considerably more restrictive. Thus an instance of "p or not
p" might be semantically rendered as "All tuna are fish or all
tuna are not fish", not the sort of assertion anyone is likely
to mistake for meaningful.


The modern definition of Tautology
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
As a result of the historical experience, semantic or
linguistic tautologies are now sometimes described as
statements having three limiting properties. They are:

1 true by definition,
2 true by the meanings of words
3 true by the use of syntactical elements but
give no information about the world"
(Fearnside & Holther, 1959, p.137).

Taken together these elements substantially decrease the number
of possible tautologies. "Married husband" remains a
tautology, because it is a definition. If in a survey one
found an unmarried husband, one would simply exclude him from
the category of husband and move on. Hence, it _cannot_ be
false that a husband is married.

Other examples like: "free gift" and "new innovation" become at
least questionable but may remain tautologies since they have
definitional elements. So if one found an example of a gift
that wasn't free (and indeed many are not), one could just
exclude that from the category gift.

However examples like "tuna fish" and "cold ice" simply will
not meet this higher standard for tautologies, because even
though the idea of a tuna which is not a fish may seem absurd,
the fact that tuna are fish is observationally dependent. Tuna
are fish (and dolphins are not) because morphologic examination
and genetic testing have confirmed their position in the tree
of life. The case against "cold ice" as a tautology is just as
clear because it is possible, at least in principle, that we
may one day see warm ice, as a result of manipulation of water
with additives, or in cleverly designed magnetic fields or
under extremely high pressures etc. Hence, it _can_ be false
that ice is cold or tuna are fish.

Of course there may be people who will claim that the only
proper definition of a tautology is the traditional one using
repetition of meaning alone. In that case, to make further
sensible discussion possible, one will need to distinguish two
categories of tautology:

necessary: those whose meanings are necessary only from the
words, including "all husbands are married".

contingent: those whose meanings are contingent on an
examination of associated reality including "all
tuna are fish".

Armed with this information we can now go back and ask: Is
SoF a tautology, and if so, of what type?


A demonstration that SoF is a Tautology
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
First, it is useful to ask, What is the strongest possible case
to be made that SoF is a tautology? It may be the following:

In population genetics there is a formal variable called
fitness (W) which is measured by the proportion of a trait that
survives into the next generation. The simplest form of the
equation looks like this:

W_abs_ = N_after_/N_before_

where:
W_abs_ is absolute fitness
N_before_ is the Number of individuals with some genotype
in a first generation (before selection)
N_after_ is the Number of individuals with an alternative genotype
in the following generation (after selection)

So quite clearly just as 'bachelor' is defined as 'an unmarried
man' 'fitness' is here defined as the 'survival' rate of some
specific characteristic in the following generation. Thus, it
appears clear that the expression SoF is a tautology.

But is it clear? Note that in the mathematical expression the
analog to 'unmarried man' is not 'survival' of an _individual_
but the "'survival' rate of some heritable _characteristic_" in
a population. In the tautological argument the functional unit
is erroneously the individual (who survives), not the
characteristics likely to be passed to the next generation.

Even if SoF can be interpreted as tautological, selective
inheritance of the best eyesight cannot be.


Mathematical Expressions of Scientific Laws as Tautologies
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
However, suppose that we continue by accepting that
W_abs_ = N_after_/N_before_
is itself a tautology, perhaps because, as we saw above the
equivalence of the same idea expressed in a different form is a
tautology. In that case all mathematical expressions
containing a single equal sign between two sets of equivalent
expressions must also be tautologies.

This must therefore include
Newton's F=ma and Einstein's E=MC^2.

F=ma is of particular interest in this respect because although
we are here defining it as a tautology, it has in fact been, at
least partially, falsified. That is, Newton's gravitational
laws are true only outside relativistic frameworks, a fact
which has been observationally verified. The fact that
Newton's laws of motion have been at least partially falsified
leaves no doubt that mathematical formulas are not tautologies
in the modern sense even if they express the same idea twice.
Is it possible that SoF has been similarly falsified?


Survival of the Fittest has been falsified
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
It was Karl Popper, a well known philosopher of science, who
made one of the clearest arguments for the falsifiability of
SoF. Popper had originally claimed that "... the survival of
the fittest becomes tautological, and irrefutable" but then
made a series of famous recantations {footnote LIST to be added
unless Wilkins deletes his blog page to prevent me from finding
it} including one in 1978 which read in part:

... not everything that evolves is useful, although it is
astonishing how many things are; ...

Here Popper appears to be referring to the fact that both
useless and downright harmful characteristics do regularly
evolve by a variety of mechanisms.

For example, when Darwin wrote, although he may have suspect
that other forces were at work, he knew of no criteria for
survival other than fitness (assuming that sexual selection is
included as part of fitness), but since his passing the study
of genetics, which began serious development in the middle of
the twentieth century, has shown that genetic drift is a major
determinant of the heritability of characteristics. To
summaries, random mutations which may code for characteristics
having little or no immediate fitness value become fixed in
populations essentially by chance. That drift is a factor is
demonstrated by genetic clocks which are used to indicate the
distance between species. These clocks tick very slowly in DNA
that codes for essential morphologic characteristics and much
more quickly in unused, so called junk DNA, which can be
dramatically altered without killing the carrier.

However, selection itself can also produce clearly unfit
characteristics. Consider the brightly colored Viceroy
butterfly, which is protected by the fact that it looks to
birds, its main potential predator, exactly like a poisonous
Monarch butterfly. When the Monarch goes extinct, as now
appears very likely, evolution will have been shown to produce
a clearly unfit species. The many species which, like the
Koala, have become depend on a single food source demonstrate
another mechanism by which nature can produce species that are
clearly unfit over the long term.

Thus, with Popper, we may ask: How can SoF be an unfalsifiable
tautology when, in many cases, it has been shown to be false or
at least incomplete?


Other means of falsifying Evolution
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
There is widespread agreement that, at least microevolution is
falsifiable by testing. Phillip Johnson, no friend of
Darwinism, writes that "...everyone agrees that microevolution
occurs, including creationists" (Darwin on Trial, page 68).
People who try to breed faster horses or smaller dogs (e.g., to
create cute, tiny pets for city dwellers) or to breed more
productive strains of wheat or citrate-eating bacteria are all,
in effect, testing evolution using artificial selection. If they
consistently failed in these efforts, evolution would thereby be
falsified. (For evidence that macroevolution is testable, see
29 Evidences for Macroevolution.))

Evolutionary theory also explicitly forbids quite a lot: It
rules out change that is theoretically (according to the laws
of genetics, and inheritance) impossible to achieve by gradual
and adaptive steps (see Dawkins [1996]) and it rules out new
species being established without ancestral species. These
hypotheses are testable since they are precisely the factors
that produce the nested hierarchy of species where, for example,
ducks are nested within birds, birds with tetrapods (including
mammals and reptiles), tetrapods within vertebrates (including
fish) and so on.

The nested hierarchy itself is confirmed by the fact that
comparisons of different parts of the genome produce
substantially the same trees, which trees are themselves
substantially the same as those derived from morphologic
comparison of species as well as from the snapshots available
from the fossil record.


Falsification in the real, not he abstract world
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
As we noted above in the discussion of units of analysis
(surviving individuals versus inherited characteristics) although
'fitness' (the label) may appear to be conceptually identical
with increased survival and replication; in the real world
fitness refers to a set of detailed specific characteristics
that develop and are maintained in response to specific
environmental conditions. That is to say, just as you must
plug actual values into F=ma for it to be meaningfully tested,
you must plug real environments and species' characteristics
into SoF before its truth can be evaluated. When this is done,
the environments and the characteristics of organisms that
evolve in response to them form a causal account which is
anything but tautological. For example:

- Non-poisonous butterflies (like the Viceroy) develop bright
coloration that mimics the form of poisonous butterflies,
because birds learn from the poisonous variety to avoid that
pattern.

- The peppered moth turned black and then returned to a peppery
coloration as its environment changed making one pattern and
then another harder for predators to detect.

- Sloths slowed down almost to a stop, because a slow moving
animal with blue-green algae growing in its hair is very
difficult for predators to see.

There is nothing tautological about:
- survival of the most colorful or
- survival of the slowest.

and should that be:
- survival of the pepperiest or
- survival of the blackest?

Without a causal account involving specific characteristics of
a breeding population in a specific environment we cannot say.

There needs to be a causal account available to make sense of
adaptation. In short, SoF is not a proof of or even an
explanation for the evolutionary process, rather it is a sketch
of how events can play out in real environments showing real
causes and effects.

_____________________________________________________

Thus, the tautological attack on evolution fails because:

- "Survival of the Fittest" (SoF) is not a complete description
of evolution, so evolution is not threatened even if SoF is a
tautology.

- Tautologies in logic, which may be truly unfalsifiable, are
very different from sloppy semantic tautologies where
'things' can be made equivalent to their properties as well
as to the classes of which they are members. Building an
argument from the claim the SoF is a traditional semantic
tautology and then applying the rules for a logical tautology
is not justifiable.

- Tautologies are unfalsifiable only with respect to their
necessary symbolic character, not their contingent real world
characteristics. "Tautologies" like F=ma and 'tuna fish' or
'cold ice' are falsifiable with respect to the real world
realities to which they refer.

- Failure of human programs to selectively breed animals,
plants and bacteria would falsify evolution.

- 'Fitness' when replaced by a casual account involving real
specific _characteristics_ in a specific breeding population
in a specific environment is not tautologically equivalent to
survival of _individuals_.

- "Survival of the Fittest" (SoF) has been at least partially
falsified by, for example, drift and the evolution of
characteristics which then became unfit, hence its
falsifiability has been demonstrated.

Friar Broccoli

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Sep 27, 2009, 4:54:19 PM9/27/09
to
The preceding post is my 3rd installment of a proposed revised
Tautology FAQ.
Previous versions can be found at:

http://groups.google.com/group/talk.origins/browse_frm/thread/16ba034e778cbbd0#
http://groups.google.com/group/talk.origins/browse_frm/thread/87d5183b29e2a3dd#
http://groups.google.com/group/talk.origins/browse_frm/thread/ee571605fbebcd8b#


To begin, it has taken me three weeks to produce this revision
because due to my day job I am not exhausted only one day a
week, and am thus posting this on Sunday afternoon. If your
situation is similar to mine, and you would like to make
corrections, there's no hurry, I would be happy to see your
corrections next weekend.

I have read all the messages from all the above threads, some
several times, including most of the provided links. In
addition to stealing most of my ideas from many of you I have, I
believe, dealt with all the criticisms I received in the last two
versions.

The criticism I have not obviously dealt with is Ivar's complaint
that it is too long; complete failure there. To mitigate that I
have done three things:

1) Produced a completely self-contained argument within the
first 50 lines - which is about how far 90% of readers will
get.

2) Added sub-titles so that people who don't read the text can
get a quick sense of what other arguments are available, if
they need to come back.

3) Added a 30 line summary of the arguments at the end.


My grateful appreciation to all those who are willing to
donate their time to dismember my work.

John Harshman

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Sep 28, 2009, 12:36:41 PM9/28/09
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Don't like that paragraph at all. You haven't shown that selection can
produce unfit characteristics; you have shown that when environments
change, the criteria of fitness change. And by the way, it's been shown
that viceroys are themselves unpalatable, though to varying degrees and
not as much as monarchs are.

Anyway, the example of neutral evolution is enough to show that "the
fittest" are not merely defined as "those that survive".

One additional feature of fitness you may want to consider is its
predictability/repeatability. We can generally specify in advance which
features will be favored in particular environments, e.g. thick fur in
cold climates, and thus selection experiments can generally be repeated
with similar results. It's not just "shit happens", but "particular shit
reliably happens, over and over".

> Thus, with Popper, we may ask: How can SoF be an unfalsifiable
> tautology when, in many cases, it has been shown to be false or
> at least incomplete?

Actually, none of your examples falsify SoF. Drift merely shows that
other mechanisms may result in fixation, i.e. that when there are no
differences in fitness, there are no "fittest". And maladaptation in the
face of a changing environment shows merely that the meaning of
"fittest" can change over time.

> Other means of falsifying Evolution

Here you seem to have confused SoF with evolution itself. Why? How? None
of this section seems relevant to the point.

If there was a point to be made there, it would seem to be that
antievolutionists accept those aspects of evolution that concern natural
selection directly, while chiefly rejecting those that don't -- like
common descent. And so we may wonder why they argue so strenuously
against the bits they accept.

> Falsification in the real, not he abstract world
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> As we noted above in the discussion of units of analysis
> (surviving individuals versus inherited characteristics) although
> 'fitness' (the label) may appear to be conceptually identical
> with increased survival and replication; in the real world
> fitness refers to a set of detailed specific characteristics
> that develop and are maintained in response to specific
> environmental conditions. That is to say, just as you must
> plug actual values into F=ma for it to be meaningfully tested,
> you must plug real environments and species' characteristics
> into SoF before its truth can be evaluated. When this is done,
> the environments and the characteristics of organisms that
> evolve in response to them form a causal account which is
> anything but tautological. For example:

This is a bit of what I was talking about above. I think it's actually
the central point to be made, rather than an afterthought.

> - Non-poisonous butterflies (like the Viceroy) develop bright
> coloration that mimics the form of poisonous butterflies,
> because birds learn from the poisonous variety to avoid that
> pattern.

Again, it might be noted we now know that viceroys do contain toxins.

This argument is highly esoteric and should be considered peripheral.

> - Tautologies are unfalsifiable only with respect to their
> necessary symbolic character, not their contingent real world
> characteristics. "Tautologies" like F=ma and 'tuna fish' or
> 'cold ice' are falsifiable with respect to the real world
> realities to which they refer.

This could be made comprehensible, and seems to relate to the central point.

> - Failure of human programs to selectively breed animals,
> plants and bacteria would falsify evolution.

No it wouldn't. It would falsify certain models of evolution.

> - 'Fitness' when replaced by a casual account involving real
> specific _characteristics_ in a specific breeding population
> in a specific environment is not tautologically equivalent to
> survival of _individuals_.

I think that combining this bit with the F=ma stuff would constitute the
strongest argument, and should be emphasized to the near-exclusion of
the rest.

> - "Survival of the Fittest" (SoF) has been at least partially
> falsified by, for example, drift and the evolution of
> characteristics which then became unfit, hence its
> falsifiability has been demonstrated.

And this one seems weak, and depends on a very weak definition of
"falsified".

Mitchell Coffey

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Sep 29, 2009, 11:35:38 AM9/29/09
to talk-o...@moderators.isc.org
On Sep 27, 4:51 pm, Friar Broccoli <elia...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Summary:
[snip]

http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2009/09/27/books/Holt-t_CA0ready.html


Mitchell Coffey


John Wilkins

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Sep 29, 2009, 1:00:56 PM9/29/09
to
In article
<36d1d0e2-4680-456e...@j4g2000yqa.googlegroups.com>,
Mitchell Coffey <m.co...@starpower.net> wrote:

> On Sep 27, 4:51�pm, Friar Broccoli <elia...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > Summary:
> [snip]
>
> http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2009/09/27/books/Holt-t_CA0ready.html
>

Is that Ludwig talking to Bertie?

Friar Broccoli

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Sep 29, 2009, 1:23:28 PM9/29/09
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On Sep 29, 1:00 pm, John Wilkins <j...@wilkins.id.au> wrote:
> In article
> <36d1d0e2-4680-456e-889d-d6055baf4...@j4g2000yqa.googlegroups.com>,

>
> Mitchell Coffey <m.cof...@starpower.net> wrote:
> > On Sep 27, 4:51 pm, Friar Broccoli <elia...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > > Summary:
> > [snip]
>
> >http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2009/09/27/books/Holt-t_CA0ready.html
>
> Is that Ludwig talking to Bertie?

No doubt about Russell since he was named.

The likeness seems good:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludwig_Wittgenstein

Mitchell Coffey

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Sep 29, 2009, 2:05:34 PM9/29/09
to talk-o...@moderators.isc.org
On Sep 29, 1:00 pm, John Wilkins <j...@wilkins.id.au> wrote:
> In article
> <36d1d0e2-4680-456e-889d-d6055baf4...@j4g2000yqa.googlegroups.com>,
>
> Mitchell Coffey <m.cof...@starpower.net> wrote:
> > On Sep 27, 4:51 pm, Friar Broccoli <elia...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > > Summary:
> > [snip]
>
> >http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2009/09/27/books/Holt-t_CA0ready.html
>
> Is that Ludwig talking to Bertie?

Yes, and as I recall there was indeed some literal incident wherein
Bertrand read Ludwig his great logic thingy - Whatdayuh think,
whatdayuh think?! Huh? Huh?! - thereupon Ludwig humorlessly destroyed
it ex temporary. Bertie was mightily depressed.

This is from some newly published comic book history of modern logic,
or some sort.

From this I'm reminded of the old National Lampoon's comic version of
Plato's Republic. Socrates is drawn as W.C. Fields in toga.
Perfect. In the opening he enters whatshisface's home, and is set
upon by Sophists, whom he destroys verbally, his words having the
effect of dashing them back across the room accompanied by comic book
WHAM! BAM! POWs!

Mitchell

Michael Siemon

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Sep 29, 2009, 6:22:41 PM9/29/09
to
In article
<69aa7851-f44d-4ae1...@t32g2000yqj.googlegroups.com>,
Mitchell Coffey <m.co...@starpower.net> wrote:

> On Sep 29, 1:00�pm, John Wilkins <j...@wilkins.id.au> wrote:
> > In article
> > <36d1d0e2-4680-456e-889d-d6055baf4...@j4g2000yqa.googlegroups.com>,
> >
> > Mitchell Coffey <m.cof...@starpower.net> wrote:
> > > On Sep 27, 4:51�pm, Friar Broccoli <elia...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > > > Summary:
> > > [snip]
> >
> > >http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2009/09/27/books/Holt-t_CA0ready.html
> >
> > Is that Ludwig talking to Bertie?
>
> Yes, and as I recall there was indeed some literal incident wherein
> Bertrand read Ludwig his great logic thingy - Whatdayuh think,
> whatdayuh think?! Huh? Huh?! - thereupon Ludwig humorlessly destroyed
> it ex temporary. Bertie was mightily depressed.
>
> This is from some newly published comic book history of modern logic,
> or some sort.
>
> From this I'm reminded of the old National Lampoon's comic version of
> Plato's Republic. Socrates is drawn as W.C. Fields in toga.

Sigh. The toga is a _Roman_ garment. That is approximately the same
level as the standard comic pages trope of cavemen with dinosaurs.

heekster

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Sep 29, 2009, 7:47:15 PM9/29/09
to
On Tue, 29 Sep 2009 15:22:41 -0700, Michael Siemon
<mlsi...@sonic.net> wrote:

>In article
><69aa7851-f44d-4ae1...@t32g2000yqj.googlegroups.com>,
> Mitchell Coffey <m.co...@starpower.net> wrote:
>
>> On Sep 29, 1:00�pm, John Wilkins <j...@wilkins.id.au> wrote:
>> > In article
>> > <36d1d0e2-4680-456e-889d-d6055baf4...@j4g2000yqa.googlegroups.com>,
>> >
>> > Mitchell Coffey <m.cof...@starpower.net> wrote:
>> > > On Sep 27, 4:51�pm, Friar Broccoli <elia...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> > > > Summary:
>> > > [snip]
>> >
>> > >http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2009/09/27/books/Holt-t_CA0ready.html
>> >
>> > Is that Ludwig talking to Bertie?
>>
>> Yes, and as I recall there was indeed some literal incident wherein
>> Bertrand read Ludwig his great logic thingy - Whatdayuh think,
>> whatdayuh think?! Huh? Huh?! - thereupon Ludwig humorlessly destroyed
>> it ex temporary. Bertie was mightily depressed.
>>
>> This is from some newly published comic book history of modern logic,
>> or some sort.
>>
>> From this I'm reminded of the old National Lampoon's comic version of
>> Plato's Republic. Socrates is drawn as W.C. Fields in toga.
>
>Sigh. The toga is a _Roman_ garment.

Actually, it is Etruscan.

Friar Broccoli

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Oct 4, 2009, 7:59:40 PM10/4/09
to
Hi;

Here I am replying only to your comments. I don't think I
should present another draft until I have found and read
Popper's arguments. Thus far I have just made-up what I think
he meant. (I may need to come back and ask for help to find his
material.)

Apart from some questions of emphasis, I agree with everything
you said, so mostly I will just sketch my proposed solutions.

[snip to line 289 (of 465) of your reply]

>> However, selection itself can also produce clearly unfit
>> characteristics. Consider the brightly colored Viceroy
>> butterfly, which is protected by the fact that it looks to
>> birds, its main potential predator, exactly like a poisonous
>> Monarch butterfly. When the Monarch goes extinct, as now
>> appears very likely, evolution will have been shown to produce
>> a clearly unfit species. The many species which, like the
>> Koala, have become depend on a single food source demonstrate
>> another mechanism by which nature can produce species that are
>> clearly unfit over the long term.

> Don't like that paragraph at all. You haven't shown that
> selection can produce unfit characteristics; you have shown
> that when environments change, the criteria of fitness change.
> And by the way, it's been shown that viceroys are themselves
> unpalatable, though to varying degrees and not as much as
> monarchs are.

Hpoint 1:

3 things:
a) the Viceroy stuff has to go since their unpalatability renders
the point too unclear.
b) not sure I will keep this entire line until I have read
Popper's revised position.
c) Keeping b) in mind, I am not clear

- "that selection can produce unfit characteristics" and
- "that when environments change, the criteria of fitness change"

are mutually exclusive, especially since selection regularly
favors specialists, which are more efficient in the short
term. It seems to me that NS's fixation on the short term
necessarily leads to the development of unfit
characteristics in the long term.

> Anyway, the example of neutral evolution is enough to show
> that "the fittest" are not merely defined as "those that
> survive".


Hpoint 2 (casual account - fur in the cold):

> One additional feature of fitness you may want to consider is
> its predictability/repeatability. We can generally specify in
> advance which features will be favored in particular
> environments, e.g. thick fur in cold climates, and thus
> selection experiments can generally be repeated with similar
> results. It's not just "shit happens", but "particular shit
> reliably happens, over and over".

I was not emphasizing this form because I couldn't think of a
way to reformulate it as a falsification argument, which is the
form that must be used since the purported non-falsifiability of
SoF is the point of the tautology argument.

However after reflection, I think this idea can be used at the
end of the introduction, immediately preceding the section
titled "What is a tautology", in a paragraph that might read
roughly as follows:

{...

Before proceeding it may be useful to step back for a reality
check: Note that the foregoing argument does not deal with
evolution as it concerns the transmission of characteristics
from parents to their offspring, rather it attacks the idea
that it is the best adapted parents who have most offspring.
So what do creationists propose as an alternative: that it is
the worst adapted who are most fertile; that it is the arctic
fox with the shortest fur who fathers the most pups generation
after generation?

In a very real sense, SoF cannot be false because the
alternative is simply ridiculous, however the fact that a
notion is obviously true, doesn't make it unfalsifiable in a
technical sense. Falsification is about testing real causes and
real effects, a discussion to which we will return following a
more detailed look at tautologies themselves:

...}


>> Thus, with Popper, we may ask: How can SoF be an unfalsifiable
>> tautology when, in many cases, it has been shown to be false or
>> at least incomplete?


Hpoint 3 (alternatives to SoF are not falsification)

> Actually, none of your examples falsify SoF. Drift merely shows that
> other mechanisms may result in fixation, i.e. that when there are no
> differences in fitness, there are no "fittest". And maladaptation in the
> face of a changing environment shows merely that the meaning of
> "fittest" can change over time.

Burkhard, first pointed this problem out to me, and I just made
up a silly argument of form to justify my failure to address
the issue, which is obviously stupid since I would be presenting
someone else with an argument that may well be indefensible
because it is overstated.

However, I want to connect the idea of falsification to drift because
drift was identified from testing of a type that could have
falsified SoF. That this is the case is evidenced by the fact
that drift (in some sense) partially replaces SoF.


Concerning maladaptation arising from changing environments:
SoF as stated doesn't distinguish between:
- SoF (long term)
- SoF (short term)
Changing environments creating unfit characteristics provides a
natural test that clearly shows that SoF (long term) is false.


So I would like to rewrite substituting "_partial_
falsification" for "falsification" making it clear that I am
referring to tests that could have completely falsified SoF, as
evidenced by the fact that they demonstrate that simple SoF is
not completely true.

Does that seem like an acceptable road map to you?


>> Other means of falsifying Evolution

Hpoint 4 (SoF being confused with evolution itself)


> Here you seem to have confused SoF with evolution itself. Why? How? None
> of this section seems relevant to the point.

Good point. I will need to bring out the link between SoF and
microevolution in the first paragraph below (see Hpoint 5
below), since creationist microevolution is essentially SoF
repackaged. Maybe this should be a separate section.

Thinking about the second and third paragraphs, I realized I had
missed the strongest falsification argument (which I have seen
made 100s of times): that if examination of the genome had not
confirmed the tree constructed from an examination of the
morphologic and fossil records, this would have falsified
evolution, so I will do a complete rewrite to bring out this
point. I will need to think about which argument supports which
aspect of evolution and limit the claims.


Hpoint 5 (creationists already accept SoF/adaptation)

> If there was a point to be made there, it would seem to be
> that antievolutionists accept those aspects of evolution that
> concern natural selection directly, while chiefly rejecting
> those that don't -- like common descent. And so we may wonder
> why they argue so strenuously against the bits they accept.

It took me awhile to untangle your intention above, but I find
this argument wonderful:

{Although creationists general believe that all characteristics
are preloaded into the genome by design, nearly all of them
accept that species change in response to changes in their
environment. This is precisely what SoF describes. So why are
creationists making this argument against a position they
already accept?}

I will figure out some way (probably as a second reality check)
of moving this into the intro, since it shows an easy way to
flatten the argument without having to worry about the details.
(As mentioned above it seems to me that microevolution is SoF
repackaged - which I will also need to bring out.)

I suspect you will disagree with my interpretation of what you
said, but one step at a time.


>> Falsification in the real, not he abstract world
>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>> As we noted above in the discussion of units of analysis
>> (surviving individuals versus inherited characteristics) although
>> 'fitness' (the label) may appear to be conceptually identical
>> with increased survival and replication; in the real world
>> fitness refers to a set of detailed specific characteristics
>> that develop and are maintained in response to specific
>> environmental conditions. That is to say, just as you must
>> plug actual values into F=ma for it to be meaningfully tested,
>> you must plug real environments and species' characteristics
>> into SoF before its truth can be evaluated. When this is done,
>> the environments and the characteristics of organisms that
>> evolve in response to them form a causal account which is
>> anything but tautological. For example:

> This is a bit of what I was talking about above. I think it's actually
> the central point to be made, rather than an afterthought.

I assume you are talking about [Hpoint 2 (casual account - fur
in the cold)]. I have commented on this in comments at the end.

>> _____________________________________________________


Hpoint 6 (Discussion of Tautologies - peripheral)

> This argument is highly esoteric and should be considered peripheral.

I agree, but this may not be so for everyone, depending on
their habits of mind. Also, how tautologies work may be
unimportant once you understand them, but you don't know that
until you have understood them. As well, some aspects of this
argument involve definition switching between linguistic and
logical tautologies. Someone who is not aware of this problem
can get himself tangled up on a side issue, so I think the
situation needs to be fully explained.

That said, my summary point above may need another draft, to
improve its clarity, although right now I cannot see what it is
I need to do.

Finally, note that the following argument (which you describe
as the "central point") depends on understanding that
"tautology" has more than one working definition.

Hpoint 7 (Central argument summary not clear)

>> - Tautologies are unfalsifiable only with respect to their
>> necessary symbolic character, not their contingent real world
>> characteristics. "Tautologies" like F=ma and 'tuna fish' or
>> 'cold ice' are falsifiable with respect to the real world
>> realities to which they refer.

> This could be made comprehensible, and seems to relate to the central point.

I think I can rewrite this to be more clear, and I should be
able to make this my closing summary argument. I don't think
it will work as the opener.


Hpoint 5b (creationists already accept SoF/adaptation)

>> - Failure of human programs to selectively breed animals,
>> plants and bacteria would falsify evolution.

> No it wouldn't. It would falsify certain models of evolution.

I will probably delete this, although your comment here was
very helpful for figuring out what you meant in Hpoint 5 above.


>> - 'Fitness' when replaced by a casual account involving real
>> specific _characteristics_ in a specific breeding population
>> in a specific environment is not tautologically equivalent to
>> survival of _individuals_.


Hpoint 2 (casual account - fur in the cold):

> I think that combining this bit with the F=ma stuff would constitute the
> strongest argument, and should be emphasized to the near-exclusion of
> the rest.

Again, "the F=ma stuff" depends on an understanding of what
tautologies are. While reading, I saw this argument made many
times in the absence of an explanatory framework. It just
wasn't believable. I don't want to make a claim and then leave
the reader without the information he needs to defend it, if
challenged.

On the "casual account" point, although it may be one of the
strongest _logical_ arguments, it is not obvious how to convert
it to a "sound bite" that shows that SoF is not a tautology or
refutes the derivative argument that evolution is unfalsifiable.

As a PRACTICAL matter, (not logical) if I don't have a good
sound bite, I don't got no good argument.


>> - "Survival of the Fittest" (SoF) has been at least partially
>> falsified by, for example, drift and the evolution of
>> characteristics which then became unfit, hence its
>> falsifiability has been demonstrated.

Hpoint 3 (alternatives to SoF are not falsification)

> And this one seems weak, and depends on a very weak definition of
> "falsified".

I agree that this argument should not be my closer, however, I
would like to keep it in a "_partial_ falsification" form as
sketched above.


I expect that finding and reading the Popper stuff is going to
take a lot of time, so I will be surprised if I can present
another draft before about six weeks from now, however, I hope
you will nail me now for the mistakes you see in my proposals,
since I will be using the notes here as the basis for my next
draft.

Thanks again for your time and your extremely valuable criticism
although I have had a tremendous amount of very useful input
from a lot of people.

John Harshman

unread,
Oct 5, 2009, 11:10:20 AM10/5/09
to

I don't see that as being a good way to put it. If anything, it's a
changing environment that "produces" unfit characteristics (or at least
the unfitness thereof), not selection. Nor does selection necessarily
lead to specialists, even in the long term. If it did, and if
specialists always went extinct eventually, then life would be extinct
by now.

Not bad.

I'm not sure I understand what that means. If drift partially replaces
selection, all that means is that some characters are not under
selection (and that no population is infinite). OK, a character can be
fixed without selection. So what?

But there is the germ of an argument here. Let's see.

1. One form of the tautology objection is that the fittest survive, and
the fittest are defined as those that survive.

2. If that were true, then all differential survival would be considered
selection.

3. But we have a name for differential survival that isn't selection:
drift. Why a name for something that by definition can't exist,
according to the tautology claim?

4. And in fact we have tests that distinguish selection from drift. We
couldn't do that if selection were just "those that survive survive".

> Concerning maladaptation arising from changing environments:
> SoF as stated doesn't distinguish between:
> - SoF (long term)
> - SoF (short term)
> Changing environments creating unfit characteristics provides a
> natural test that clearly shows that SoF (long term) is false.

Don't see it. All it shows is that fitness is a moving target. How does
that falsify anything?

> So I would like to rewrite substituting "_partial_
> falsification" for "falsification" making it clear that I am
> referring to tests that could have completely falsified SoF, as
> evidenced by the fact that they demonstrate that simple SoF is
> not completely true.
>
> Does that seem like an acceptable road map to you?

No. I just don't see the piont at all. "Selection is myopic" does
nothing to falsify selection as a mechanism, whether long-term or
short-term. It also tends toward confusing individual with species benefit.

>>> Other means of falsifying Evolution
>
> Hpoint 4 (SoF being confused with evolution itself)
>> Here you seem to have confused SoF with evolution itself. Why? How? None
>> of this section seems relevant to the point.
>
> Good point. I will need to bring out the link between SoF and
> microevolution in the first paragraph below (see Hpoint 5
> below), since creationist microevolution is essentially SoF
> repackaged. Maybe this should be a separate section.
>
> Thinking about the second and third paragraphs, I realized I had
> missed the strongest falsification argument (which I have seen
> made 100s of times): that if examination of the genome had not
> confirmed the tree constructed from an examination of the
> morphologic and fossil records, this would have falsified
> evolution, so I will do a complete rewrite to bring out this
> point. I will need to think about which argument supports which
> aspect of evolution and limit the claims.

I really don't know what any of that has to do with tautologies, the
supposed topic of the FAQ.

Not bad. I would substitute "often" for "general". Aside from the typo,
creationists are so diverse it's hard to categorize even their majority
opinions. It may be that most creationists think that there are no
beneficial mutations, and that all adaptation is sorting of pre-existing
(from the beginning) variation. But some also appear to allow for minor
new adaptation, as long as it's minor enough.

This is however irrelevant to natural selection, which is a mechanism
not for the origin of new genetic variation, but of the differential
reproduction of existing genotypes. Where the variation comes from is a
side issue.

The point is that even if we're just sorting original variation, there
must be a mechanism by which it happens. If not selection -- because,
apparently, "selection" is meaningless -- then what? How is this
variation sorted? If it's by the advantage of adaptive characteristics,
that's selection.

(As a digression, creationists who say they accept microevolution often
attribute all manner of bad moral consequences to evolution, but most of
those moral consequences are attached, such as they're attached to
anything, to natural selection and microevolution, not macroevolution.
Not relevant here.)

> I will figure out some way (probably as a second reality check)
> of moving this into the intro, since it shows an easy way to
> flatten the argument without having to worry about the details.
> (As mentioned above it seems to me that microevolution is SoF
> repackaged - which I will also need to bring out.)

No, microevolution involves much more than selection. *Adaptive*
microevolution is selection (or due to selection, whatever). But drift,
etc., are microevolution too.

> I suspect you will disagree with my interpretation of what you
> said, but one step at a time.
>
>
>>> Falsification in the real, not he abstract world
>>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>>> As we noted above in the discussion of units of analysis
>>> (surviving individuals versus inherited characteristics) although
>>> 'fitness' (the label) may appear to be conceptually identical
>>> with increased survival and replication; in the real world
>>> fitness refers to a set of detailed specific characteristics
>>> that develop and are maintained in response to specific
>>> environmental conditions. That is to say, just as you must
>>> plug actual values into F=ma for it to be meaningfully tested,
>>> you must plug real environments and species' characteristics
>>> into SoF before its truth can be evaluated. When this is done,
>>> the environments and the characteristics of organisms that
>>> evolve in response to them form a causal account which is
>>> anything but tautological. For example:
>
>> This is a bit of what I was talking about above. I think it's actually
>> the central point to be made, rather than an afterthought.
>
> I assume you are talking about [Hpoint 2 (casual account - fur
> in the cold)]. I have commented on this in comments at the end.

Yes.

I don't in fact note that. It does? Why?

Please be clear that this derivative argument is not truly a derivative
argument; that relies on the misconception that natural selection and
evolution are synonyms.

> As a PRACTICAL matter, (not logical) if I don't have a good
> sound bite, I don't got no good argument.

My notion is that all the technical stuff about logical and whatever
other tautology will never, ever make a sound bite. But "we can tell
fitness based on real criteria" could.

>>> - "Survival of the Fittest" (SoF) has been at least partially
>>> falsified by, for example, drift and the evolution of
>>> characteristics which then became unfit, hence its
>>> falsifiability has been demonstrated.
>
> Hpoint 3 (alternatives to SoF are not falsification)
>
>> And this one seems weak, and depends on a very weak definition of
>> "falsified".
>
> I agree that this argument should not be my closer, however, I
> would like to keep it in a "_partial_ falsification" form as
> sketched above.

I think that "falsification" is usually interpreted to mean "evolution
is not true". What you really mean is "we can decide that selection is
not operating in this particular case". That's a distinction that will
blow past many.

Mitchell Coffey

unread,
Oct 5, 2009, 11:46:51 AM10/5/09
to talk-o...@moderators.isc.org
On Sep 29, 6:22 pm, Michael Siemon <mlsie...@sonic.net> wrote:
> In article
> <69aa7851-f44d-4ae1-84d0-e4b2a9ca7...@t32g2000yqj.googlegroups.com>,

>  Mitchell Coffey <m.cof...@starpower.net> wrote:
>
>
>
> > On Sep 29, 1:00 pm, John Wilkins <j...@wilkins.id.au> wrote:
> > > In article
> > > <36d1d0e2-4680-456e-889d-d6055baf4...@j4g2000yqa.googlegroups.com>,
>
> > > Mitchell Coffey <m.cof...@starpower.net> wrote:
> > > > On Sep 27, 4:51 pm, Friar Broccoli <elia...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > > > > Summary:
> > > > [snip]
>
> > > >http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2009/09/27/books/Holt-t_CA0ready.html
>
> > > Is that Ludwig talking to Bertie?
>
> > Yes, and as I recall there was indeed some literal incident wherein
> > Bertrand read Ludwig his great logic thingy - Whatdayuh think,
> > whatdayuh think?!  Huh? Huh?! - thereupon Ludwig humorlessly destroyed
> > it ex temporary.  Bertie was mightily depressed.
>
> > This is from some newly published comic book history of modern logic,
> > or some sort.
>
> > From this I'm reminded of the old National Lampoon's comic version of
> > Plato's Republic.  Socrates is drawn as W.C. Fields in toga.
>
> Sigh. The toga is a _Roman_ garment. That is approximately the same
> level as the standard comic pages trope of cavemen with dinosaurs.
>
> > Perfect.  In the opening he enters whatshisface's home, and is set
> > upon by Sophists, whom he destroys verbally, his words having the
> > effect of dashing them back across the room accompanied by comic book
> > WHAM! BAM! POWs!

Indeed, there were a number of problematic issues with Lampoon's
restatement of The Republic.

Mitchell


Mitchell Coffey

unread,
Oct 5, 2009, 11:54:30 AM10/5/09
to talk-o...@moderators.isc.org
On Sep 29, 7:47 pm, heekster <heeks...@ifiwxtc.net> wrote:
> On Tue, 29 Sep 2009 15:22:41 -0700, Michael Siemon
>
>
>
> <mlsie...@sonic.net> wrote:
> >In article
> ><69aa7851-f44d-4ae1-84d0-e4b2a9ca7...@t32g2000yqj.googlegroups.com>,

> > Mitchell Coffey <m.cof...@starpower.net> wrote:
>
> >> On Sep 29, 1:00 pm, John Wilkins <j...@wilkins.id.au> wrote:
> >> > In article
> >> > <36d1d0e2-4680-456e-889d-d6055baf4...@j4g2000yqa.googlegroups.com>,
>
> >> > Mitchell Coffey <m.cof...@starpower.net> wrote:
> >> > > On Sep 27, 4:51 pm, Friar Broccoli <elia...@gmail.com> wrote:
> >> > > > Summary:
> >> > > [snip]
>
> >> > >http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2009/09/27/books/Holt-t_CA0ready.html
>
> >> > Is that Ludwig talking to Bertie?
>
> >> Yes, and as I recall there was indeed some literal incident wherein
> >> Bertrand read Ludwig his great logic thingy - Whatdayuh think,
> >> whatdayuh think?!  Huh? Huh?! - thereupon Ludwig humorlessly destroyed
> >> it ex temporary.  Bertie was mightily depressed.
>
> >> This is from some newly published comic book history of modern logic,
> >> or some sort.
>
> >> From this I'm reminded of the old National Lampoon's comic version of
> >> Plato's Republic.  Socrates is drawn as W.C. Fields in toga.
>
> >Sigh. The toga is a _Roman_ garment.
>
> Actually, it is Etruscan.
[snip]

Only in the sense that the bikini is French. The point I make here is
that the bikinis is a common item of apparel among American women [1],
but Greeks did not wear togas.


[1] Personal observation.

Mitchell

John Wilkins

unread,
Oct 6, 2009, 4:08:56 AM10/6/09
to
In article
<10ba3dab-9391-4c5b...@d4g2000vbm.googlegroups.com>,
Mitchell Coffey <m.co...@starpower.net> wrote:

> On Sep 29, 7:47�pm, heekster <heeks...@ifiwxtc.net> wrote:
> > On Tue, 29 Sep 2009 15:22:41 -0700, Michael Siemon

...


> > >Sigh. The toga is a _Roman_ garment.
> >
> > Actually, it is Etruscan.
> [snip]
>
> Only in the sense that the bikini is French. The point I make here is
> that the bikinis is a common item of apparel among American women [1],
> but Greeks did not wear togas.
>
>
> [1] Personal observation.
>

Obviously I have visited the wrong parts of the US.

J. J. Lodder

unread,
Oct 10, 2009, 5:21:52 PM10/10/09
to
Mitchell Coffey <m.co...@starpower.net> wrote:

Actually, it is Roman, [1]

Jan

[1] <http://www.galenfrysinger.com/bakini_girl_mosaics_sicily.htm>

Mitchell Coffey

unread,
Oct 11, 2009, 2:18:46 AM10/11/09
to talk-o...@moderators.isc.org
On Oct 10, 5:21 pm, nos...@de-ster.demon.nl (J. J. Lodder) wrote:

> MitchellCoffey<m.cof...@starpower.net> wrote:
> > On Sep 29, 7:47 pm, heekster <heeks...@ifiwxtc.net> wrote:
> > > On Tue, 29 Sep 2009 15:22:41 -0700, Michael Siemon
>
> > > <mlsie...@sonic.net> wrote:
> > > >In article
> > > ><69aa7851-f44d-4ae1-84d0-e4b2a9ca7...@t32g2000yqj.googlegroups.com>,
> > > > MitchellCoffey<m.cof...@starpower.net> wrote:
>
> > > >> On Sep 29, 1:00 pm, John Wilkins <j...@wilkins.id.au> wrote:
> > > >> > In article
> > > >> > <36d1d0e2-4680-456e-889d-d6055baf4...@j4g2000yqa.googlegroups.com>,
>
> > > >> > MitchellCoffey<m.cof...@starpower.net> wrote:
> > > >> > > On Sep 27, 4:51 pm, Friar Broccoli <elia...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > > >> > > > Summary:
> > > >> > > [snip]
>
> > > >> > >http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2009/09/27/books/Holt-t_CA0ready.htm
> l
>
> > > >> > Is that Ludwig talking to Bertie?
>
> > > >> Yes, and as I recall there was indeed some literal incident wherein
> > > >> Bertrand read Ludwig his great logic thingy - Whatdayuh think,
> > > >> whatdayuh think?!  Huh? Huh?! - thereupon Ludwig humorlessly destroyed
> > > >> it ex temporary.  Bertie was mightily depressed.
>
> > > >> This is from some newly published comic book history of modern logic,
> > > >> or some sort.
>
> > > >> From this I'm reminded of the old National Lampoon's comic version of
> > > >> Plato's Republic.  Socrates is drawn as W.C. Fields in toga.
>
> > > >Sigh. The toga is a _Roman_ garment.
>
> > > Actually, it is Etruscan.
> > [snip]
>
> > Only in the sense that the bikini is French.
>
> Actually, it is Roman, [1]
>
> Jan
>
> [1] <http://www.galenfrysinger.com/bakini_girl_mosaics_sicily.htm>

Oh, shut up.

Mitchell Coffey

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