Is natural Selection all metaphor

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Sep 9, 2011, 8:05:05 AM9/9/11
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Sep 9, 2011, 8:10:24 AM9/9/11
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http://human-nature.com/dm/chap4.html

Darwin's metaphor, does nature select?

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Sep 9, 2011, 8:24:59 AM9/9/11
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On Sep 9, 1:06 pm, backspace <stephan...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Is Natural Selection all Metaphor?  (16 February 1899)
>
> http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v59/n1529/abs/059369a0.html
>
> THE Duke of Argyll, in his reply to Mr. Herbert Spencer, says “in
> the Darwinian theory there is no selector† (NATURE, February 2, p.
> 317). Though we have not yet discovered a principle or factor which
> plays the part of the breeder in nature, it by no means follows that â
> €œnatural selection† is “all metaphor,† nor yet, as has been
> often stated, an altogether misleading phrase. The rôle of the
> breeder or artificial selector is, I believe, often misunderstood. If
> we consider what the art of breeding mainly consists in, we may come
> to the conclusion that even the phrase “artificial selection† is,
> to a considerable extent, misleading and metaphorical.
>
> It seems to me the art of breeding consists mainly in two things, viz.
> (1) producing prepotency, and (2) preventing intercrossing. Prepotency
> is produced and maintained by inbreeding. The object of preventing
> intercrossing is to arrest, as far as possible, variation and
> reversion. If it can be shown that in nature prepotency often arises
> either as a sport or through inbreeding, and that prepotency by
> arresting the “swamping effects of intercrossing† plays the part
> of the fences of the breeder and the cages of the fancier, we shall be
> justified in looking upon prepotency as a “selector,† and in
> finding more than metaphor in the phrase “natural selection.† We
> already know that amongst insects a sport may displace the parent
> form; and if, instead of searching for evidence of intersterility as
> suggested by Romanes, we search diligently for evidence of prepotency,
> we may ere long discover the “selector†—the factor that in
> nature, under the control of utility, plays the part of the breeder.

http://human-nature.com/dm/chap4.html

Around 1899 it seems people became aware that SoF was tautological
bafoonery. In 1872 John Tyndall meant SoF in his Belfast address where
he also cited Lucretius. As the realization began to dawn that saying
SoF makes atheists look really stupid an attempt was made to
disassociate natural selection the metaphor from it.

This view needs further citations and review. I think we only fully
grasped the differences between tautological propositions,
assertions(axioms) and expressions(what happens, happens by a friend
after driving into a tree) round about now.

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Sep 9, 2011, 9:53:32 AM9/9/11
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Sep 9, 2011, 10:11:47 AM9/9/11
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http://measureofdoubt.com/2011/04/06/the-perils-of-metaphorical-thinking/

So far I’ve been discussing implicit metaphors, but explicit metaphors
can also lead us astray without us realizing it. We use one thing to
metaphorically stand in for another because they share some important
property, but then we assume that additional properties of the first
thing must also be shared by the second thing. For example, here’s a
scientist explaining why complex organisms were traditionally assumed
to be more vulnerable to genetic mutations, compared to simpler
organisms: “Think of a hammer and a microscope… One is complex, one is
simple. If you change the length of an arbitrary component of the
system by an inch, for example, you’re more likely to break the
microscope than the hammer.”

That’s true, but the vulnerable complexity of a microscope isn’t the
only kind of complexity. Some systems become more robust to failure as
they become more complex, because of the redundancies that accrue — if
one part fails, there are others to compensate. Power grids, for
example, are built with more power lines than strictly necessary, so
that if one line breaks or becomes overloaded, the power gets rerouted
through other lines. Vulnerability isn’t a function of complexity per
se, but of redundancy. And just because an organism and a microscope
are both complex, doesn’t mean the organism shares the microscope’s
low redundancy.

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Sep 9, 2011, 10:32:35 AM9/9/11
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http://human-nature.com/dm/chap4.html

He had also provided a naturalistic account of the struggle for
existence (a phrase which he employed) and the resulting extinction of
species. But when Lyell turned to the question of the origin of new
species, the Principles of Geology was nearly silent, and Lyell's own
remarks on the subject in volume two and in his correspondence with
Herschel are certainly confusing and probably confused. Indeed, he
remained unable to see his way clearly to a theory of evolution for
nearly forty years, and when he did accept Darwin's theory in 1868, it
was with crucial reservations.

NOTES: SoF was a metaphor for Struggle for existence, SoF is a
tautology, not so with SfE.

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Sep 9, 2011, 10:52:35 AM9/9/11
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NOTES: THE terms below darwin lifted from patrick matthew:


http://human-nature.com/dm/chap4.html
The path by which Darwin says he arrived at the mechanism of natural
selection was also the one which he chose to follow in setting out his
argument. The first version was a pencil sketch written in 1842. The
section indicating the course of the argument begins with the heading,
"On variation under domestication, and on the principles of
selection." This is followed by "On variation in a state of nature and
on the natural means of selection." Having established that there are
countless small variations which can be selected by breeders for man's
purposes and which then breed true, he continues, "Let us see how far
[the] above principles of variation apply to wild animals." Having
satisfied himself that they do, he makes the analogy which will
preoccupy us for the rest of this argument. It should be seen in two
ways. The first and obvious one is that he is moving from the
artificial selection used by breeders to a natural mechanism. However,
I want to draw attention to another feature of the analogy. In moving
from artificial to natural, Darwin retains the anthropomorphic
conception of selection, with all its voluntarist overtones. Thus the
analogy is not merely a reflection of the process of discovery. The
terms in which it is expressed had important consequences for the
nature and the reception of the theory.

In the sketch of 1842, Darwin writes as follows:

But if every part of a plant or animal was to vary ... and if a being
infinitely more sagacious than man (not an omniscient creator) during
thousands and thousands of years were to select all the variations
which tended towards certain ends ([or were to produce causes which
tended to the same end]), for instance, if he foresaw a canine animal
would be



88

better off, owing to the country producing more hares, if he were
longer legged and keener sight - greyhound produced.... Who, seeing
how plants vary in garden, what blind foolish man has done in a few
years, will deny an all-seeing being in thousands of years could
effect (if the Creator chose to do so), either by his own direct
foresight or by intermediate means - which will represent the creator
of this universe.

Darwin then produces the concept of natural selection and supports it
with Malthusian arguments - "the pressure is always ready" - and
refers to natural selection as "rigid and scrutinizing." In the
summary of this section, he says, "I conclude it is impossible to say
we know the limit of variation. And therefore with the [adapting]
selecting power of nature, infinitely wise compared to those of man, I
conclude that it is impossible to say we know the limit of races,
which would be true to their kind . . ." In the conclusion of the
sketch, Darwin couples his anthropomorphic language with his more
fundamental commitment to the uniformity of nature (the curious
juxtaposition which provides the subject of much of what follows in
this essay):

We must look at every complicated mechanism and instinct, as the
summary of a long history of useful contrivances, much like a work of
art.... It accords with what we know of the law impressed on matter

by the Creator, that the creation and extinction of forms, like the
birth and death of individuals should be the effect of secondary
[laws] means. It is derogatory that the Creator of countless systems
of worlds should have created each of the myriads of creeping
parasites and [slimy] worms which have swarmed each day of life on
land and water on [this] one globe.

In the expanded Essay of 1844, the relevant chapter is written in the
same terms and entitled "On the Variation of Organic Beings in a Wild
State; On the Natural Means of Selection; and On the Comparison of
Domestic Races and True Species."

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Sep 9, 2011, 2:11:53 PM9/9/11
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http://www.complexsystems.org/essays/evolecon.html

Accordingly, the logical, even necessary implication is that the
framework of biological evolution should be treated only as a
"metaphor." There may be loosely analogous processes of variation,
inheritance/reproduction and selection, but these should be viewed
merely as heuristic tools. Indeed, Hodgson assigns an entire chapter
to the task of trying to show how metaphors have a perfectly
respectable scientific pedigree (take natural selection, for instance)
and how, in effect, the adoption of an evolutionary approach in
economics would simply replace one metaphor with another that is more
appropriate to the subject matter. The challenge, then, is to identify
the relevant analogues. Hodgson's preference, following Veblen, is to
treat "habits" and "institutions" (whatever those things are -- only
economists seem to know for sure) as the units of selection.

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Sep 9, 2011, 2:13:06 PM9/9/11
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Sep 9, 2011, 2:26:01 PM9/9/11
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http://www.complexsystems.org/HolDarwin.html

In recent years, evolutionary theorists have come to recognize that
the reductionists, individualists, gene-centered approach to evolution
cannot sufficiently account for the emergence of complex biological
systems over time. Peter A. Corning has been at the forefront of a new
generation of complexity theorists who have been working to reshape
the foundations of evolutionary theory. Well known for his Synergism
Hypothesis- a theory of complexity in evolution that assigns a key
casual role to various forms of functional synergy - Corning puts this
theory into a much broader framework in Holistic Darwinism, addressing
many of the issues and concepts associated with the evolution of
complex systems. Corning's paradigm embraces and integrates many
related theoretical developments of recent years, from multilevel
selection theory to niche construction theory, gene-culture
coevolution theory, and theories of self-organization. Offering new
approaches to thermodynamics, information theory, and economic
analysis, Corning suggests how all of these domains can be brought
firmly with in what he characterizes as a post-neo-Darwinism
evolutionary synthesis.

NOTES: Is complexity used by the author as a metaphor for
functionality? You might have a very complex system that isn't
functional. Added complexity could decrease functionality but increase
redundancy.

Any engineering system will be a trade-off between complexity,
functionality and redundancy.

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Sep 9, 2011, 3:14:04 PM9/9/11
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http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/may/27/not-so-natural-selection/

Nothing creates more misunderstanding of the results of scientific
research than scientists’ use of metaphors. It is not only the general
public that they confuse, but their own understanding of nature that
is led astray. The most famous and influential example is Darwin’s
invention of the term “natural selection,” which, he wrote in On the
Origin of Species,

is daily and hourly scrutinising, throughout the world, every
variation, even the slightest; rejecting that which is bad, preserving
and adding up all that is good….

Darwin, quite explicitly, derived this understanding of the motivating
force underlying evolution from the actions of plant and animal
breeders who consciously choose variant individuals with desirable
properties to breed for future generations. “Natural” selection is
human selection writ large. But of course, whatever “nature” may be,
it is not a sentient creature with a will, and any attempt to
understand the actual operation of evolutionary processes must be
freed of its metaphorical baggage.

Unfortunately, even modern evolutionary biologists, as well as
theorists of human social and psychological phenomena who have used
organic evolution as a model for general theories of their own
subjects, are not always conscious of the dangers of the metaphor.
Alfred Russel Wallace, the coinventor of our understanding of
evolution, wrote to Darwin in July 1866 warning him that even
“intelligent persons” were taking the metaphor literally.

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Sep 9, 2011, 3:14:56 PM9/9/11
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Sep 11, 2011, 2:33:01 PM9/11/11
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http://groups.google.com/group/talk.origins/browse_frm/thread/4aaab26afabe2b5e#

On Sep 11, 7:13 pm, backspace <stephan...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Sep 11, 6:37 pm, Bob Casanova <nos...@buzz.off> wrote:
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> > On Sun, 11 Sep 2011 00:53:56 -0700 (PDT), the following
> > appeared in talk.origins, posted by backspace
> > <stephan...@gmail.com>:
>
> > >On Sep 10, 7:01 pm, Mark Isaak <eci...@curioustaxonomyNOSPAM.net>
> > >wrote:
> > >> Chez Watt nomination, "black is white (partly)" category:
> > >> > Falsifiability is a subset of unfalsifiability.
> > >We are informed that evolution us a fact, so is the axiom: what
> > >happens,happens.
>
> > Yes, that which is observed is assumed to happen.
>
> > >if it is a fact then it is not falsifiable and thus not in the same
> > >league as newton's equations
>
> > Correct; observations, as contrasted with hypotheses and
> > theories (which are generalized explanations of
> > observations) are not usually falsifiable. So?
>
> > And what has this to do with your idiotic assertion that
> > "Falsifiability is a subset of unfalsifiability"? I'm
> > beginning to believe that you're a bit fuzzy on the meaning
> > of "subset".
> > --
>
> > Bob C.
>
> > "Evidence confirming an observation is
> > evidence that the observation is wrong."
> > - McNameless
>
> Best way to view Darwin, matthew, etc usage of selection is as a
> metaphor for survival. Thus patrick matthew's   'natural means of
> competitive selection' should be ' natural means of competitive
> survival'
>
> The English language is one huge metaphorical mess , allowing to
> construct Sokal hoax type meaningless sentences:
>
> http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/04/15/hoax_paper_accepted/
> "....We are trying to relate the analytic thinking required in focused
> conference sessions, to the synthetic thinking, required for analogies
> generation, which calls for multi-focus domain and divergent thinking.
> We are trying to promote a synergic relation between analytically and
> synthetically oriented minds, as it is found between left and right
> brain hemispheres, by means of the corpus callosum....."
>
> Stribling's paper consisted of randomly generated buzzwords munged
> into complete English sentences by a madlib-like program, so they were
> grammatically correct but meaningless: much like one of Jonathan
> Schwartz's weblog entries, or a Cory Doctorow nove


If nobody did the selecting then selection must be a metaphor. If
Selection is used as it is in evolution and the author does not use
selection as a metaphor, it immediately raises the question: who did
the selecting?

With the semantic object selection there isn't any requirement , much
like Green could be used as a metaphor for immature, a point many miss
with Chomsky's Colorless green ideas sleep...

What Chomsky demonstrated is that it is very easy to construct a
meaningless sentence if the an author uses a term such a Green or
Selection in a non metaphorical way.

It is in fact possible to turn Chomsky's sentence into a meaningful
one by invoking the power of metaphor.

1) You have a green light. Could be a physical light, or go ahead with
project
2) The person is green. Could be immature or color green.

Natural Selection does not escape such *metaphorical ambiguity*.
Natural Selection was used by me as a metaphor for
http://scratchpad.wikia.com/wiki/Preferential_decision and Howard
agreed that this was allowable.

Remember that no word, sentence or term has an actual meaning. Only
ideas and metaphors as a subset or idea construct has an actual
meaning.

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Sep 11, 2011, 4:21:08 PM9/11/11
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http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-intro-to-biology.html

''........Selection is not a force in the sense that gravity or the
strong nuclear force is. However, for the sake of brevity, biologists
sometimes refer to it that way. This often leads to some confusion
when biologists speak of selection "pressures." This implies that the
environment "pushes" a population to more adapted state. This is not
the case. Selection merely favors beneficial genetic changes when they
occur by chance -- it does not contribute to their appearance. The
potential for selection to act may long precede the appearance of
selectable genetic variation. When selection is spoken of as a force,
it often seems that it is has a mind of its own; or as if it was
nature personified. This most often occurs when biologists are waxing
poetic about selection. This has no place in scientific discussions of
evolution. Selection is not a guided or cognizant entity; it is simply
an effect.........''

This is wrong, because authors from Matthew, Darwin, Gould , Wilkins,
Dawkins etc. used 'selection' metaphorically - metaphor for what
exactly is the question that is raised.

The object 'selection' is no more an effect that green actually is the
color green. Only if we use 'selection' as a metaphor for some effect,
does saying selection is an effect escape being a meaningless
sentence. The question is: metaphor for what? Selection is the
metaphor for what entity that is this actual effect.

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Sep 12, 2011, 12:38:54 AM9/12/11
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On Sep 11, 11:51 pm, Arkalen <arka...@inbox.com> wrote:
> If you want to see it that way.
>
> > If
> > Selection is used as it is in evolution and the author does not use
> > selection as a metaphor,
>
> Well, given that selection as it is used in evolution is an impersonal
> process with nobody doing the selecting, by the definition you used a
> sentence ago the author IS using selection as a metaphor. So your
> hypothetical situation never happens.
>
> > it immediately raises the question: who did
> > the selecting?
>
> ...question which is answered immediately by knowing what natural
> selection is. If you don't know what "natural selection" means in
> evolutionary biology then you really ought to read an introductory
> biology textbook before reading actual scientific papers that use that
> word, because believe me it isn't the only vocabulary term you'll have a
> problem with.
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> > With the semantic object selection there isn't any requirement , much
> > like Green could be used as a metaphor for immature, a point many miss
> > with Chomsky's Colorless green ideas sleep...
>
> > What Chomsky demonstrated is that it is very easy to construct a
> > meaningless sentence if the an author uses a term such a Green or
> > Selection in a non metaphorical way.
>
> > It is in fact possible to turn Chomsky's sentence into a meaningful
> > one by invoking the power of metaphor.
>
> > 1) You have a green light. Could be a physical light, or go ahead with
> > project
> > 2) The person is green.  Could be immature or color green.
>
> > Natural Selection does not escape such *metaphorical ambiguity*.
>
> Actually it does. It escapes this by being a scientific term with a
> precise, pre-defined meaning. Unlike "green", whose literal and
> metaphorical meanings are determined by consensus and will thus vary
> with time, space and sub-culture, "natural selection" is a term of
> professional jargon, and the textbooks and dictionaries that explain its
> scientific meaning are prescriptive, not descriptive.
>
> > Natural Selection was used by me as a metaphor for
> >http://scratchpad.wikia.com/wiki/Preferential_decisionand Howard
> > agreed that this was allowable.
>
> If you're using it in a non-scientific context I'm sure you can do
> whatever you want.
>
>
>
> > Remember that no word, sentence or term has an actual meaning. Only
> > ideas and metaphors as a subset or idea construct has an actual
> > meaning.
>
> Indeed. So why are you bugging us about the word, sentence or term
> "natural selection" instead of addressing the actual meaning of the IDEA
> involved ?

Wikipedia tells us that ns is the non-random process by which things
become more or less common. Which means that by the process of
natural(undirected) competitive survival(selection) creatures become
more or less common, dominating en ecological niche.

In previous revisions that formulated it tautologically:
Those creature that are more competitive become more common and those
less competitive less common
(more competitive <=> more common). Now follows the non-sequitur:
those that became more common transformed into new species. Also note
that the latest wikipedia ns revision is an arbitrary revision by an
unknown arbitrary author. It isn't Dawkins or Wilkins that wrote
that.

There are no citations for the historical context and knowledge
background to the opening paragraph. I am continually told how stupid
I am for not understanding ns(metaphorically or otherwize). May I
suggest that if one actually thinks he as has clue as to what is meant
with the opening paragraph, he might be less enlightened.

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Sep 13, 2011, 4:44:30 AM9/13/11
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On Sep 13, 6:40 am, SortingItOut <eri...@home.com> wrote:
> On Sep 11, 3:22 pm, backspace <stephan...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> >http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-intro-to-biology.html
>
> > ''........Selection is not a force in the sense that gravity or the
> > strong nuclear force is. However, for the sake of brevity, biologists
> > sometimes refer to it that way. This often leads to some confusion
> > when biologists speak of selection "pressures." This implies that the
> > environment "pushes" a population to more adapted state. This is not
> > the case. Selection merely favors beneficial genetic changes when they
> > occur by chance -- it does not contribute to their appearance. The
> > potential for selection to act may long precede the appearance of
> > selectable genetic variation. When selection is spoken of as a force,
> > it often seems that it is has a mind of its own; or as if it was
> > nature personified. This most often occurs when biologists are waxing
> > poetic about selection. This has no place in scientific discussions of
> > evolution. Selection is not a guided or cognizant entity; it is simply
> > an effect.........''
>
> > This is wrong, because authors from Matthew, Darwin, Gould , Wilkins,
> > Dawkins etc. used 'selection' metaphorically - metaphor for what
> > exactly is the question that is raised.
>
> > The object 'selection' is no more an effect, than green is the color
> > green. Only if we use 'selection' as a metaphor for some effect, does
> > saying selection is an effect escape being a meaningless sentence. The
> > question is: metaphor for what? Selection is the metaphor for what
> > entity that is this actual effect?
>
> Some variants survive over successive generations while other variants
> die out, and the difference is due to environmental factors.

Some die, some don't is a truism. Natural selection indeed was the
metaphor for this. Take note that ns is a term and not a sentence,
which like the object 'green' allows one to use it as a metaphor for
anything in full sentence formulation.

1) A man painted the wall green in the hallway. - color green.
2) The initiates were green at the course entry. - Depending on intent
it could mean physically green or immature. We would need to ask the
person who wrote the sentence. We have the same problem with the
wikipedia ns entry: who wrote that?

> Understanding the etymology of the term 'natural selection' is not
> necessary in order to understand the process it refers to.  

The fact that some survive and some don't is a tautology, not a cause-
effect description.

> Call it
> 'green' if you find that less distracting.

Let's rather not. Richard Lewontin and Gould were dissatisfied over
the term natural selection due its
*metaphorical ambiguity*.


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Sep 13, 2011, 11:46:07 AM9/13/11
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Greg Guarino wrote:
> On 9/13/2011 4:44 AM, backspace wrote:
> > On Sep 13, 6:40 am, SortingItOut<eri...@home.com> wrote:
> >> On Sep 11, 3:22 pm, backspace<stephan...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> >>
> >> Some variants survive over successive generations while other variants
> >> die out, and the difference is due to environmental factors.
> >
> > Some die, some don't is a truism.
>
> No, it isn't. It is empirical fact, true because it is what we observe,
> not because of some trick of language or logic.

On my site at http://scratchpad.wikia.com/wiki/TauTology I made a
write-up that Patrick Matthew used 'selection' as a metaphor for
Survival. In Darwins quest to claim credit for 'inventing the
principle of natural selection' , his mind tunneled through a semantic
wormhole and he didn't make it clear or couldn't grasp that selection
was only a metaphor for survival.

Survival in the context used was only an *effect* not a cause. In
science we look for the cause effect relationship. This is why Jerry
Fodor and every body else are crafting *meaningless sentences* whey
they say:
''...... a free-rider is a trait that could have been acted upon by
selection,... ......''

using survival:
''...... a free-rider is a trait that could have been acted upon by
Survival... ......''

Survival doesn't act on anything, it is an effect not a cause.

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Sep 14, 2011, 5:26:10 AM9/14/11
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There is a confusion between a synonym and metaphor.

These are synonyms:
1) Selection -> Decision

Metaphors as used by Osborne, Matthew, Tyndall, Darwin:
1) Selection -> Survival.

With preferential as in in preferential decision, I used natural as
the metaphor for preferential.

Basically this whole debate boils down determining whether the author
used a synonym or metaphor.
We had 150 years of wasted ink(fodor) because of this.

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Sep 15, 2011, 2:03:03 AM9/15/11
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On Sep 14, 11:08 pm, Nathan Levesque <nathanmleves...@gmail.com>
wrote:
> On Sep 8, 3:14 pm, backspace <stephan...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > Can't understand why it took me 4 years of research to finally grasp
> > this: the wordy term and grammatical gargoyle 'natural selection' was
> > only  a metaphor for 'survival of the fittest' which in turn was an
> > apt short hand for Patrick Matthew's competitive selection process as
> > creatures adapted via slow imperceptible *differential* small
> > accumulative changes, transforming into different species over
> > millions of years. Problem with this story is if the other creature
> > came to dominate the ecological niche we would be told the exact same
> > thing making the proposition indisputable and thus unfalsifiable.
>
> How is it unfalsifiable?  Can we not observe this change, demonstrate
> the new organisms superior traits, etc?
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> > It is when Natural selection( a term ) isn't used as a metaphor that
> > its usage in a sentence results in a meaningless sentence:http://scratchpad.wikia.com/wiki/Meaningless_sentence.
>
> > Since sentences have no meaning, no word or term actually means
> > anything, one is free to use 'natural selection' as a metaphor for
> > anything as I did withhttp://scratchpad.wikia.com/wiki/Preferential_decision
>
> > If we can agree on this , I think we would have finally answered Jerry
> > Fodor's question: What then is the intended meaning of natural
> > selection?
>
> >http://scratchpad.wikia.com/wiki/TauTology has been updated.

it is as unfalsifiable as Democritus Atomism. Matthew reformulated
Democritus, the battle between atoms became the battle between two
creature to dominate an ecological niche. Somebody or something must
therefore win.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/22/books/l-the-peppered-moth-goes-on-evolving-872520.html?src=pm
Paul Raeburn's review of Judith Hooper's ''Of Moths and Men'' (Aug.
25) might lead non-biologists to conclude that the peppered moth
(Biston betularia) as an example of evolution through natural
selection is seriously flawed or invalidated by the well-known
shortcomings of Bernard Kettlewell's early experiments. This is not
the case. Numerous later studies have firmly established the role of
natural selection in the frequency changes of the moth variants.
Scientific reviews of Hooper's book by Bruce Grant (Science, Aug. 9)
and Jerry Coyne (Nature, July 4) make these important points: ''The
case for natural selection in the evolution of melanism in peppered
moths is actually much stronger today than it was during Kettlewell's
time'' (Grant).

''This issue matters, at least in the United States, because
creationists have promoted the problems with Biston as a refutation of
evolution itself. . . . By peddling innuendo and failing to
distinguish clearly the undeniable fact of selection from the
contested agent of selection, Hooper has done the scientific community
a disservice'' (Coyne).



''...By peddling innuendo and failing to distinguish clearly the
undeniable fact of selection from the contested agent of selection,
Hooper has done the scientific community a
disservice'' (Coyne).........''


Designate if selection and agent here is used as a synonym or metaphor
in terms of the cause-effect. What is the cause and effect. If
synonym ,synonym for what? If metaphor , metaphor for what? Such is
the ambiguity with English, that we can't determine what the author
wrote from the words alone much like we can't determine what is meant
with the following from the words alone.

1)Sherlock saw the man holding binoculars.

Did Sherlock hold binoculars or did the man hold binoculars?


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Sep 15, 2011, 5:54:07 AM9/15/11
to Tautology notes
Wallace published his reservations in a section entitled

"Mr. Darwin's Metaphors liable to Misconception."

The most widespread of the misconceptions played a very ironic part in
the debate surrounding Darwin's theory. As Adam Sedgwick put it in a
cordial but profoundly pained letter, "You write of 'natural
selection' as if it were done consciously by the selecting agent."
Sedgwick wanted to insist on the role of final causes in nature and
asserted that natural laws were manifestations of the will of God.
Like so many of those who seized on the anthropomorphic use of
"natural selection," Sedgwick wanted to assimilate it to an active
role for the Deity in sustaining and guiding the history of nature.
Sedgwick was himself unable to adopt Darwin's theory, but many others
were able to do so because they interpreted Darwin in the very sense
which Sedgwick was advocating.

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Sep 15, 2011, 6:33:14 AM9/15/11
to Tautology notes
Wallace published his reservations in a section entitled

101

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Sep 15, 2011, 10:15:10 AM9/15/11
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On Sep 15, 12:26 pm, Burkhard <b.scha...@ed.ac.uk> wrote:
> > Is your usage of selection as a synonym or metaphor?

> That sentence of yours doesn't even parse syntactically, let alone
> semantically. almost every word as synonyms

I don't understand this.

> I use it in the way every competent speaker of English woudl
> understand it after reading an up to date textbook in evolutionary
> biology.

IF we consult a dictionary of 1860 when Samuel Wilberforce did his
botched review of Darwin(he missed all the tautologies) then selection
was the synonym of decision. Even to today we find this same view from
dictionary's.

Thus what do we mean with selection and decision is the issue, not
what does selection mean, but what do you mean in terms of cause and
effect.

Whichever animal survives in their battle to dominate an ecological
niche; in each instance the actual reason must be derived
independently and Selection as a metaphor for Survival not invoked as
the cause when survival is only an effect.

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Sep 15, 2011, 10:32:20 AM9/15/11
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On Sep 15, 12:32 pm, alextangent <b...@rivadpm.com> wrote:
> On Sep 15, 7:01 am, backspace <stephan...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>
>
> > 1)Sherlock saw the man holding binoculars.
>
> > Did Sherlock hold binoculars or did the man hold binoculars?
>
> Sentences such as the (in)famous "Fruit flies like an apple" can be
> parsed many ways. For instance, the obvious; "flies" and "like" have
> two distinct parses. "Flies" as a noun or verb, with "like" as an verb
> or adjective. Of course, since our experience has it that apples don't
> fly, we tend to make the correct semantic parse of "fruit flies"
> rather than "fruit that flies". There's also a third parse that most
> people don't make based on semantic analysis; the interjection
> comparison of the similarity of fruit flies to an apple, as in the
> punctuated for clarity "Fruit flies; like an apple".
>
> And the equally (in)famous "Time flies like an arrow" has normally to
> be explained to people for them to get the semantic joke.
>
> So (A saw) (B holding C) is not the same as the syntactically correct
> but semantically incorrect parse (A (saw B) holding C). Regardless of
> A B or C. It's the semantic effect of "saw", and ambiguity is normally
> eliminated by correctly identifying the subject, the object and the
> verb. Try it; replace "binoculars" with "guns".
>
> Now insert "while he was", since that is a truly ambiguous semantic
> parse; "Sherlock saw the man while he was holding binoculars". There's
> no way of associating "he" correctly. Perhaps that was what you meant
> to write.
>
> I still don't see how that supports your position though.

Made a typo:

http://trulyconverse.blogspot.com/2008/03/sherlock-saw-man-using-binoculars.html

Sherlock saw the man using binoculars , should have been the
sentence . It was lifted from the MIT course on pragmatics or
Structural ambiguity. All biologists should be forced to do a course
from Chomsky on SA, so they understand the following question:

1) I made a selection for the cup, not choosing the pan.
1a I made a decision for the cup, not choosing the pan.

Thus selection <=> making a decision . Decision is the synonym of
selection.

Lets try this with biology newspeak:

2) By the process of natural selection creatures dominated their
ecological niche.
2b) '....natural selection is the process by which things reduce or
increase....'

Like with the Sherlock example, it is impossible to determine what is
meant , without the author signifying if he is using selection as a
synonym(decision) or metaphor(survival by Patrick Matthew).

If he meant decision then we could have the following:

3) By the process of the Gaia nature selection force, Lord Gaia
determined which creatures dominated their ecological niche.
3b) By the process of natural survival the creature dominated.

This raises the question is survival a cause or effect in 3b)?

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Sep 15, 2011, 3:33:30 PM9/15/11
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On Sep 15, 4:30 pm, "Steven L." <sdlit...@earthlink.net> wrote:
> "Nathan Levesque" <nathanmleves...@gmail.com> wrote in message
>
> news:607ee1f0-6894-4661...@eb1g2000vbb.googlegroups.com:
>
> > On Sep 8, 3:14 pm, backspace <stephan...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > > Can't understand why it took me 4 years of research to finally grasp
> > > this: the wordy term and grammatical gargoyle 'natural selection' was
> > > only a metaphor for 'survival of the fittest' which in turn was an
> > > apt short hand for Patrick Matthew's competitive selection process as
> > > creatures adapted via slow imperceptible *differential* small
> > > accumulative changes, transforming into different species over
> > > millions of years. Problem with this story is if the other creature
> > > came to dominate the ecological niche we would be told the exact same
> > > thing making the proposition indisputable and thus unfalsifiable.
>
> > How is it unfalsifiable?  Can we not observe this change, demonstrate
> > the new organisms superior traits, etc?
>
> But looking backward to the past, what do we see?

> The proponents of the tautology argument claim that evolution by natural
> selection is a tautology: "Those who survive, survived."

If you are using selection as a metaphor for survival, then in the
context of Matthew 1831 we have his ''....natural competitive
selection(survival) process....''. It depends what you mean with
selection. Are you using it as metaphor or as synonym.

> It's like claiming that of the last 20 or so winning teams in the Super
> Bowl:  "Those who win, won."

> But natural selection doesn't claim that those who win will win.  

Of course not, Mr. Natural Selection doesn't exist, he can't claim
anything. IF though you mean that the concept as formulated by
matthew, his ''natural means of competitive selection(survival)'',
which Darwin lifted and contracted to ''natural selection'', then as I
pointed out, the Matthew narrative is that of Democritus atomism
reformulated by using selection as a metaphor for survival. The
surviving atoms were 'naturally' selected or preserved , meaning they
*survived* the competitive jostling for a niche. Of course the
narrative is unfalsifiable because it still holds the other way
around. This is why sentences that incorporate the term 'natural
selection' in its metaphorical sense persist to this day, its
metaphorical construct masks the underlying unfalsifiability, which in
turn masks the underlying assumption of Democritus, Lucretius and I
think even Darwin, they believed the universe existed for eternity.

Wallace insisted that DArwin use SoF in 1868, third edition. Before
1868 there was no SoF, only natural selection in OoS, with selection
the metaphor for survival. This is how it was understood by many. The
ambiguity began with Darwin lifting Matthew's concept and contracting
it too two terms, which lead to a *Structural Ambiguity* as pointed
out with the ''...Sherlock saw the man holding binoculars ...'' from
the MIT linguistics course.


> Rather, it claims that those who are better suited to their environment
> have a higher probability of winning.  Bad luck can certainly intervene.

better suited and higher probability are dissimilar terms that refer
to same fact, saying same thing twice, making any conclusion a non-
sequitur.

>   A herbivore may be born with superior traits.  But if he's eaten by a
> predator before he can reproduce and pass on his genes, what good were
> his genes?

What good is your rhetorical question?


> And there have been more than one instance where the team that was
> favored to win the Super Bowl or the World Series or many Olympic
> competitions, didn't win.

Because winning every race does not tell us the actual reason the team
was winning, maybe like in cricket the opposing teams was each time
paid by the Pakistan mafia to throw the match.

> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_on_Ice

> Those who win, don't always win.  So much for it being a tautology.

Those who win every race does not tell us the actual reason they won.

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Sep 15, 2011, 4:19:45 PM9/15/11
to Tautology notes
http://scratchpad.wikia.com/wiki/Charles_Hodge

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/19192/19192-h/19192-h.htm#Footnote_34_34
p.111 In his volume of "Lay Sermons, Reviews," etc., Professor Huxley
has a very severe critique on M. Flourens's book. He says little,
however, in reference to teleology, except in one paragraph, in which
we read: "M. Flourens cannot imagine an unconscious selection; it is
for him a contradiction in terms." Huxley's answer is, "The winds and
waves of the Bay of Biscay have not much consciousness, and yet they
have with great care 'selected,' from an infinity of masses of silex,
all grains of sand below a certain size and have heaped them by
themselves over a great area.... A frosty night selects[Pg 111] the
hardy plants in a plantation from among the tender ones as effectually
as if the intelligence of the gardener had been operative in cutting
the weaker ones down."[35] If this means anything, it means that as
the winds and waves of the Bay of Biscay can make heaps of sand, so
similar unconscious agencies can, if you only give them time enough,
make an elephant or a man; for this is what Mr. Darwin says natural
selection has done. - Lay Sermons, p. 347.
------------------

Did Huxley use selection in the pattern with a purpose or pattern
without a purpose sense? Did he use selection as a metaphor or
literally. We can say that the frosty night selected the hardy
plants.

The main problem is that Huxley assumed the harsh environment caused
hardy plants. Plants surviving the cold only express their attributes,
they are not adapted to anything. Plants who died in the frost,
expressed their attributes. Nothing is explained by stating the
obvious: those that died weren't adapted.

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Sep 16, 2011, 1:09:32 AM9/16/11
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On Sep 16, 4:42 am, j...@wilkins.id.au (John S. Wilkins) wrote:
> Natural selection : the operation of natural causes by which those
> individuals of a species that are best adapted to the environment tend
> to be preserved and to transmit their characters, while those less
> adapted die out, so that in the course of generations the degree of
> adaptation to the environment tends progressively to increase.

Other than noting they were best adapted, how was their tendency to be
preserved measured?

Answer: Their tendency to be preserved was measured in terms of their
adaptability and their adaptability measured in terms of their
tendency to be preserved.
best adapted <=> tend to be preserved.

These terms self-referentially refer to the same fact, saying the same
thing twice. Lets strip out the tautology and reformulate for truism
to more clearly show the conclusion is a non-sequitur. We will replace
selection with preservation , the term darwin actually meant, which in
turn refers to survival.

Reduce1:
Natural preservation is the cause by which species are preserved,
their offspring are better adapted.

Reduce2:
Natural preservation causes the offspring of species to be better
adapted.

Reduce3:
By the ''natural means of competitive preservation(selection,
survival)'' the offspring of species become better adapted.

In terms of Democritus atomism:
By the ''natural means of competitive preservation(selection,
survival)'' the surviving atoms became better adapted.


This raises the following:
1) Truism element, everything that is in existence is obviously
preserved.
2) It is assumed that the present offspring or atom possess attributes
that weren't in previous generations of which we only have dead bones.
3) Democritus assumed that present atoms possessed attributes that
weren't previously there. They obtained their attributes by engaging
in a competitive jostling for atomic space process. It was a natural
outflow of his premise that universe existed for eternity and that the
present state of atomic resilience didn't exist billions of years ago.
Thus there had to be some process by which they obtained their
resilience: he thus begged the question. By formulating this atomic
competitive selection process in an unfalsifiable manner , he masked
the circular reasoning.

4)How do we prevent cause-effect inversion? A polar bear in the arctic
posses the attributes to withstand the cold while a camel doesn't.
The actual reason will be because of morphology of the bear, it
therefore is not adapted to the arctic, it only expresses its
attributes. There never was a time when its predecessors didn't posses
the attributes enabling pole survival.

Thus underlying we have circular reasoning, it is implicitly assumed
that there was a point in time when the ancestors of the polar bear
couldn't survive the arctic cold.

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Sep 16, 2011, 6:35:27 AM9/16/11
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http://human-nature.com/dm/chap4.html

Darwin from Lyell. The issue was a matter of how one chose to
interpret natural laws - as self-acting or as expressions of the will
of God.

Darwin had similar correspondences with a large number of friendly
critics, each of whom seized on his language as a basis for arguing
that the course of evolution was, after all, designed. The topic is
one of the most recurrent ones in his correspondence. Again and again
Darwin asks what is so different about his case from similar ones in
the physicochemical sciences, and again and again his would-be
interpreters try to reconcile his theory with design by means of the
active role played by natural selection. Finally, in a letter to
Hooker, Darwin's exasperation begins to show.

Such men as you and Lyell thinking that I make too much of a Deus of
Natural Selection is a conclusive argument against me. Yet I hardly
know how I could have put in, in all parts of my book, stronger
sentences. The title, as you once pointed out, might have been better.
No one ever objects to agriculturists using the strongest language
about their selection, yet every breeder knows that he does not
produce the modification which he selects. My enormous difficulty for
years was to understand adaptation, and this made me, I cannot but
think, rightly insist so much on Natural Selection.

It is clear from this and from many of the foregoing remarks by Darwin
that the path by which he claimed to have come to his theory was
causing grave difficulties and that, although he understood many of
the objections, he was very unwilling to alter his mode of expression
about natural selection. Although none of his correspondents was
arguing for divine intervention in the crude form of catastrophist
miracles, they were convinced that the course of evolution was guided
by God's sustaining power and purposes. Darwin could grant this only
if the Deity was identified with the principle of the uniformity of
nature itself. At any lower level of abstraction he could not make any
concessions, no matter how much his correspondents thought they were
bringing about a diplomatic reconciliation between evolution and
theology. Darwin had gone as far as he could in the Origin in arguing
that the uniform operation of natural laws led to a grander view of
the Creator. He thought it a paltry view of God to claim that He
should tamper with the details of species. This point came out



105

clearly in a letter to Sir John Herschel, who had called for a law of
evolution in his correspondence with Lyell in 1837, and had criticized
Vestiges for failing to supply a vera causa. Yet when Darwin's book
appeared, he criticized natural selection as "the law of higgeldy-
piggeldy" and expressed a preference for a law of "Providential
Arrangement." Darwin wrote:

I am pleased with your note on my book on species, though apparently
you go but a little way with me. The point which you raise on
intelligent Design has perplexed me beyond measure; & has been ably
discussed by Prof. Asa Gray, with whom I have had much correspondence
on the subject. I am in a complete jumble on the point. One cannot
look at this Universe with all living productions & man without
believing that all has been intelligently designed; yet when I look to
each individual organism, I can see no evidence of this.

For, I am not prepared to admit that God designed the feathers in the
tail of the rock-pigeon to vary in a highly peculiar manner in order
that man might select such variations & make a Fan-tail; & if this be
not admitted (I know it would be admitted by many persons) then I
cannot see design in the variations in structure of animals in a state
of nature, those which were useful to the animal being preserved &
those useless or injurious being destroyed. But I ought to apologise
for thus troubling you.

In the remainder of the letter Darwin implies that the real problem
for Herschel is that a new generation of scientists is coming along,
and its members see nature in terms of unalloyed uniformity.

You will think me very conceited when I say I feel quite easy about
the ultimate success of my views, (with much error, as yet unseen by
me, to be no doubt eliminated); & I feel this confidence because I
find so many young & middle-aged truly good workers in different
branches, either partially or wholly accepting my views, because they
find that they can thus group & understand many scattered facts. This
had occurred with those who have chiefly or almost exclusively studied
morphology, geographical distribution, systematic Botany, simple
geology & paleontology. Forgive me boasting, if you can; I do so,
because I should value your partial acquies[c]ence in my views, more
than that of almost any other human being.

Darwin could not expect acquiescence from the elder statesman of
science, a man whose view of nature had been formulated in a period
which assumed a perfect harmony between natural theology and natural
science. Darwin and the members of his generation



106

could accept theism only if its claims were so abstract as not to
interfere with the operations of nature at all.
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