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Monday, December 29, 2014

A Little Slice of Dogma...

I got into a argument discussion with some bone-head on the WSJ site over the article "Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God."

Interestingly the article generated more than two thousand comments (normal articles generate perhaps a few dozen - popular ones perhaps several hundred).

I postulated: "Divide 4 billion years into 10,000 year segments - there are 400,000 of them - how much "evolution" is documented scientifically with the recent 10,000 year span? I would postulate far more species have died off than evolved in the most recent span and I think science would be hard pressed to demonstrate any new anatomical features in higher life forms that have evolved spontaneously (yes bacteria swap DNA).  400,000 is a lot but not enough to account for the claims of the "science of evolution" given its recent though meager evolutionary output.

Of course there's not just the creation of new complex body parts but they also have to be dominant genetically and compatible (unlike a mule) with further reproduction.

Seems to me divine intervention would be just as likely as any "scientific" reasons for us being here.  But, then again, modern science is mostly a belief system, just like religion...
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So some guy says "blue eyes" evolved over my first 10,000 year span - and as far as science can tell this is in fact true (there is a lot of genetic mapping going on right now which claims to show this).

Another guy claims some book (well, actually the Wikipedia article associated with the book) called "The 10,000 Year Explosion" proves that civilization is rapidly advancing the process of evolution. 

The article makes claims like "The authors [ of the book ]speculate that the scientific and Industrial Revolutions came about in part due to genetic changes in Europe over the past millennium, the absence of which had limited the progress of science in Ancient Greece" and lack of evolution in less civilized cultures "... may explain why Indigenous Australians and many native Americans have characteristic health problems when exposed to modern Western diets."

Imagine - the effects of evolution outweigh things like the plagues, violent hoards, bad weather, and the collapse of civilizations in defining the progress of human society.   It would be interesting if any proof of these claims could be offered but since there isn't any means to do other than speculate on this I won't hold my breath.

As to the second comment see my posts linked here and this one about the "Hispanic epidemiological paradox" that describes how western diets kill otherwise healthy people because western diets are inherently unhealthy.

Sure, I posted, imagine a world where the pressure of evolution outweighs factors like I mention in these posts.  Pure fantasy.

As for the "blue eye" guy - eye color is not a new body part - its a pigmentation change to an existing body part.  Not hard to imagine a rogue cosmic ray zapping some chromosome and causing this (though he probably didn't read this link at wired about how all the "junk" DNA is not junk and just having a list of proteins from DNA is insufficient to make differentiated cells which makes the old "random chance" evolution nonsense even less tenable).

I certainly believe that things change, eye color, finch's beaks, and so forth in response to environment.  And I think few would disagree event with the strongest of religious convictions.

But these two guys are quite troubling.

Why?

They miss the larger picture.  The appear to believe, as many of us do when young or when we are without critical thinking skills to sort things out on our own, in dogma.  In this case the dogma of evolution - not the "things change" evolution but evolution now, as in the case of the "10,000," the evolution is powered by civilization and making fantastic changes to things more powerful than standard biological environmental pressures.

No analysis of whether a western diet is in fact bad - which it is.

No analysis of anything - just regurgitated dogma.

Much of the rest of the scree was related to how power and mighty science is.  My counter there is simple - science is a belief system just like religion.  One of my replies in this context was:

"Mathematics is the ONLY non-belief-based system humans use and this is so because those who use mathematics created the axioms (though one has to believe the axioms which Godel showed were not necessarily sufficient). 

All science is based on the belief that A) mathematics accurately and reliably maps onto the physical world and B) when ever A does not apply some form of statistical substitute is used.  Hence "science" must believe in mathematics which believes in only itself.


Hardly a concrete endorsement.


In the past casting chicken bones was sufficient to predict rain.  Today an arbitrary mathematical models takes their place.  We no longer believe in the chicken bones.  Some day we will no longer believe in today's mathematical model for weather. 

If science where "sufficient" the model wouldn't keep changing - unlike mathematics.
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That's right - mathematics - at least not the kind that's far removed from day-to-day function - depends on human create axioms.  Unlike, say a climatological "model" that changes constantly during the process of dogma creation and validation, mathematics doesn't change.  We have outstanding questions, say the Goldbach Conjecture, and eventually someone solves them - but not by re-writing the axioms.

True, many do re-write the axioms, but then they expect the consequences to change across the board, i.e., 1 + 1 =/= 2 any more.

But we don't keep trying new axiom combinations so that we can solve some particular problem in a way to suit modern dogma.

The more interesting aspect of this is how narrowly focused everybody is.  They only think about their slice of the dogma and its no matter if their slice contradicts somebody else's slice.

While commenting I wondered (and posted) the following question:

Since these posts were on the Wall Street Journal's site I wondered which was more accurate - a current dogma-based climate model or a random become a millionaire stock trading model?

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