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Survival of the fittest - what does it mean ?

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ArgumentumAdHominem
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« Reply #30 on: March 18, 2008, 07:18:37 AM »

 Roll Eyes Here we go again.  What on Earth makes you think that we want to answer your questions when you flat-out refuse to answer our questions?

We have shown you the respect of entering into a civilised discussion for many months now and you have not once reciprocated the patience that we have shown while letting you have your say.  Many of the participants here have run out of patience before I have and now I see why.

I will not answer any of your questions until you answer the questions from bluegrayV, Anacoluthon64 (those are the direct questions I can find) and the other statements made by participants here which you have completely ignored, not refuting them or accepting any part of what they said.  Here's a little guidance, try writing a few sentences which read "I agree with the observation that you made that ...AAA... but have you considered the conterposition ...BBB...".  Or "The reason that I do not accept ...AAA... is because ...BBB...".  In typical discussion, participants like it if BBB is directly related to the point made in AAA, rather than being a complete change to the focus of the discussion.

As for the theme of this thread, your question "What does survival of the fittest mean?" has been repeatedly answered.

The very fact that little children can talk about the Theory of Natural Selection with a great sense of intellectual achievement - that alone should tell us that we need to look very carefully at what exactly is the Theory of Natural Selection and Evolution. Is there any other theory in physics, math etc. where everybody can all talk together about such a theory[?]
Ask that child what happens when you release a ball ... "it falls".  No need to study advanced physics there.  Being an eight year old I'm sure s/he can tell you the motion and location of the eight planets without a degree in Astronomy.

A shameless dig - counterexample:
Ask a child (of any speaking age) where fluffy went after he died.  "To Heaven?" really? You don't have a degree in theology, how do you know that?

ummm, okay I answered a question there, but you know what I meanCheesy
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« Reply #31 on: March 18, 2008, 08:22:33 AM »

Good post ArgumentumAdHominem. Unfortunately it seems that they don't teach you how to answer simple questions in creationism school. Only elaborate statements and arguments that can easily be seen as flawed by even the slightest of real insight into the subject.

The very fact that little children can talk about the Theory of Natural Selection with a great sense of intellectual achievement - that alone should tell us that we need to look very carefully at what exactly is the Theory of Natural Selection and Evolution.
Yes, I agree with you here. And I suspect that when you talk about the Theory of Natural Selection, you have much the same comprehension of the term as an eight year old might have.
It does not matter what Darwin or Herbert Spencer or Bart Simpson meant when they used the term NS. What matters is what is understood by the term by scientists that work on the subject today. They might have (and did) get a lot of their ideas from people like Darwin and Mendel and they did indeed shape what we understand today under the term NS. But it is only because their ideas agreed with scientific experiment and evidence collected now for many years. Their work was merely the seed from which the modern theory have grown into a well tested and evidence based theory.

If you really want to learn about evolution and natural selection, you will have to read more recent publications and scholarly articles, which you will find in many of the links and references that we posted. Wikipedia has a long list of references that you can check out as well. We can only give you a short summary of the modern theory here - and of course answer any serious questions you might have, which I think we did numerous times by now.

I can see why you insist on asking what was meant by Darwin and his contemporaries by NS though. Because even though they understood how evolution and NS was supposed to work, they did not completely understand the mechanism by which this all took place. They did not have the evidence or insight or tools or complimentary theories that we have today. By attacking them you will have to ignore a much smaller body of evidence that if you attacked any modern biologist. If you attack Darwin, you only have one or two books to prove wrong. If you attack a modern biologist like Richard Dawkins, you have a whole library to proof wrong.
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« Reply #32 on: March 18, 2008, 14:13:27 PM »

"Survival of the Fittest" is a sentence a human being uses to project some sort of intent, …
Uh oh!  Presumably in the same essential way that “Vertical Falling of Apples” is a sentence (phrase, actually) a human being uses to project some sort of intent – an intent maybe to formulate a theory of gravity, one surmises…



… it is not some formally defined established theory like newton's theory of gravity or something.
Correct, that is, in and of itself: it is a bidirectional observation of great generality, a rule of thumb, concerning the progression of life forms over time.  It is bidirectional because wherever a particular organism is seen to thrive, that organism is with much certainty well-suited to its environment, and vice versa.  The phrase’s real value lies in guiding us in our examination of those factors that are relevant to the survival and/or proliferation of various organisms, including interactions with other organisms.  This is in stark contrast to any explanations that would invoke some form of magic or miracle.  The phrase is shorthand for a formally defined established theory (actually, a collection thereof), namely Evolution with Natural Selection.  It is, as already pointed out earlier in these pages, a statistical, a probabilistic theory, unlike General Relativity which is wholly deterministic.

But, as the saying goes, “the proof of the pudding…”  Numerous computer-based simulators have been prepared that – please note – do not rely on unsustainable sleight-of-mind.  Such simulators are in use for scenario modelling, chiefly with a view towards environmental and ecological management.  Like all good science, these simulators are continually being improved and updated for reliability, accuracy and flexibility as new knowledge emerges, and they provide results which have in many cases been validated through further observation and measurement.

Elsewhere, the manifest success of applying so-called “genetic algorithms” (actually, a family of algorithms) in the relatively efficient computerised solution of many-dimensional problems characterised by some combination of non-linearity, chaotic or quasi-chaotic solution spaces and/or complex boundary conditions attests to the great usefulness of “survival of the fittest” as a guiding principle.

Not at all a bad record of success for a mere “tautology,” should you actually bother to ask me.  Thus, it is blandly thoughtless to engage in some trumped-up sophistry concerning the finer points of language use.  On similar grounds you could make an equally compelling case for dismissing pretty much the whole of economics because “the rule of supply and demand” is a “tautology.”  Or, for that matter, the utility of any other broad probabilistic principle drawn from empirical observations.

But please feel free to persist in such foolish notions.

'Luthon64
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metari1
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« Reply #33 on: March 18, 2008, 19:34:01 PM »

Not at all a bad record of success for a mere “tautology,” should you actually bother to ask me.  Thus, it is blandly thoughtless to engage in some trumped-up sophistry concerning the finer points of language use.  On similar grounds you could make an equally compelling case for dismissing pretty much the whole of economics because “the rule of supply and demand” is a “tautology.” 

"Rule of supply and demand" - who says so ? Lets presume a 12 year old posting on this forum and some professor in economics, now the question is what is the background knowledge of each and how does it impact what we should understand each motive,will,intent or pragmatics and even his aphobetics in Gitt information theory when each of them says "...rule of supply and demand ...."

The professor would know about the "survivalist, data snooping and forward looking" biases that plague stock market technical analysis and the statistical techniques such as bootstrapping used to counter the data snooping bias. This professor would be thinking in a much higher analytical dimension then a 12 year old merely parroting a phrase he heard somewhere.

In the same vane using the term SoF means what ? It depends on who says so what is your background knowledge. What is it that we know today that Spencer didn't know back then. SoF is not a theory it is just semantics, grammar and syntax - there is no intent or pragmatics behind it unless somebody says "SoF", thus who says so ? The same with "Rule of supply and demand" - who says so.

There is no such thing as a formal theory of SoF or theory of rule of supply and demand, these are just colloquial labels which are used to project some sort of intent of the individual using it. Newtons' theory of gravity is formally defined.
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« Reply #34 on: March 18, 2008, 20:36:05 PM »

"Rule of supply and demand" - who says so ?
Why, you yourself do!  It’s an unavoidable consequence of extending your argument concerning “survival of the fittest” to any other rule abstracted from empirical observations: How else do we measure supply/demand dynamics except by noting that the one drives the other?  By the way, your argument now seems surreptitiously to have changed from “‘survival of the fittest’ is a tautology” to “there is no consistent intent behind usage of the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ because the intent depends on who says it.”  So, which is it?



Lets presume a 12 year old posting on this forum and some professor in economics…

… This professor would be thinking in a much higher analytical dimension then a 12 year old merely parroting a phrase he heard somewhere.

In the same vane using the term SoF means what ? It depends on who says so what is your background knowledge.
Of course.  But I am hard pressed to think of anything more trivially obvious – trivially obvious, that is, than the observation that one’s understanding of a term depends on the level of one’s expertise in the pertinent field(s) of study.  As an irreverent and almost irrelevant aside, for someone who appears to care so deeply about ensuring that language adequately meets reality, you yourself certainly stretch the rules of spelling and grammar with considerable abandon.



There is no such thing as a formal theory of SoF or theory of rule of supply and demand, these are just colloquial labels which are used to project some sort of intent of the individual using it. Newtons' theory of gravity is formally defined.
I, along with several others here, have repeatedly explained the essential differences to you in several distinct ways.  Newton’s theory of gravity is deterministic, hence relatively straightforward, hence rather concisely expressible.  Ditto many other physical theories.  In contrast, evolution deals with aggregates of already significantly complex entities dynamically interacting – that is, changing others and themselves being changed in the process – with many others of a comparable kind, hence stochastic analyses are called for, hence elaborate illustration by means of multifarious examples is necessary to convey the theory’s quintessence, hence the need for mnemonics like “survival of the fittest.”  Just like economics, in fact.

'Luthon64
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metari1
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« Reply #35 on: March 18, 2008, 22:46:18 PM »

In contrast, evolution deals with aggregates of already significantly complex entities dynamically interacting – that is, changing others and themselves being changed in the process ..... the theory’s quintessence, hence the need for mnemonics like “survival of the fittest.”  Just like economics, in fact.

The word "evolution" which is derived from the Latin word for "change" doesn't deal with anything. The word evolution is just semantics not pragmatics, there can only be pragmatics by an individual to communicate his motive using semantics. What is your intent in telling
us that the word "change" deals with complex entities, how is it possible for the word "change" to deal with entities if the word "change" is not a conscious being ?

Obviously your intent is not that the word change as some sort of abstract authority deals with things, thus I need to ask you what is your intent because I have no idea.
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« Reply #36 on: March 19, 2008, 10:00:08 AM »

The word "evolution" which is …
Okay, my fault for not being consummately diligent in my wording.  Imagine then, if you will, that in the cited excerpt the word “evolution” is spelled with a capital letter “e” and think instead of it as a term denoting a multifaceted area of active scientific inquiry.  That should, I expect, clear up for you any remaining semantic and intent issues, n’est-ce pas?



… I need to ask you what is your intent because I have no idea.
The latter is lavishly clear, and, if I may venture a guess, the direct result of a microscopic attention span.

'Luthon64
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« Reply #37 on: March 19, 2008, 10:50:03 AM »

The latter is lavishly clear, and, if I may venture a guess, the direct result of a microscopic attention span.
Definitive proof that one unit of Planck Time is not actually the shortest timespan in the Universe.  Tongue
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metari1
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« Reply #38 on: March 19, 2008, 18:04:26 PM »

Anacoluthon64
"..... think instead of Evolution as a term denoting a multifaceted area of inquiry....." ?

What has the word "change" or "evolution" got to do with making inquiries ?
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« Reply #39 on: March 19, 2008, 18:15:07 PM »

How likely is it that generations of scientists have used a theory extensively and further developed the theory and produced   

I presume you are refering to the ToE and ToNS. Would you mind showing me where is formally established Theory of Natural Selection on Wikipedia or anywhere else for that matter? (hint - you find it on Wikipedia).
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« Reply #40 on: March 19, 2008, 18:31:33 PM »


It is bidirectional because wherever a particular organism is seen to thrive, that organism is .... well-suited to its environment, and vice versa.

Other than noting the organism thrived how was its suitability to the environment derived ? Let me help you out here. Your argument rests on a truism:The organism exists or The organism is suited to its environment. And this is the essence of your statement which of course is just truism. So in order to disguise your truism you turn it into a tautology. You tell me the organism "thrived", obviously how else could it have thrived if it wasn't well suited to its environment? Telling me it "thrived" doesn't tell me anything more that what is implied with:" .... well-suited..."

The phrase is shorthand for a formally defined established theory (actually, a collection thereof), namely Evolution with Natural Selection.

Where can I read this formally defined and established theory which you label "Natural Selection". Is the term "natural selection" in an of itself the actual theory or is it a label for some yet to be defined theory that will explain how an egg turns into a chicken?
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« Reply #41 on: March 19, 2008, 20:00:44 PM »

What has the word "change" or "evolution" got to do with making inquiries ?

Quote from: Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1), Inquiry
1. a seeking [...] for truth, information, or knowledge.

[...]

4. a question; query.

You are limiting your understanding of the word to the forth definition, and ignoring the first definition.  This definition allows for the special definition of scientific inquiry which described the processes of undertaking scientific investigations - details at Wiki.  It is obvious to any reader familiar with the English language that 'Luthon's intent in using the phrase "think [...] of [the term "Evolution"] as a term denoting [an] area of [...] scientific inquiry" was to indicate that "Evolution" has a meaning beyond simply "change" and that meaning is the subject, the target, the focus of many diverse areas of scientific investigation from a variety of fields which all point to the same thing, the same theory of Evolution.  Remember in the distant past that I said that Evolution has it's own meaning in the field of biology?  Any dictionary will list this biological definition separately from the "change" definition that you are clinging to.

Would you mind showing me where is formally established Theory of Natural Selection on Wikipedia or anywhere else for that matter?

We did this for you on the previous thread about Natural Selection and triangular circles.  Here we go again.  Just ignoring what was posted there does not mean that it wasn't sufficient evidence.

Here are some ones which may have been posted already (if they were, you haven't commented on them)...

The definition of Evolution at the Talk Origins Archive.
The definition of Darwinism at the Talk Origins Archive includes the following on Natural Selection (but read that article before you ask what this has to do with Evolution)..
Quote from: Ernst Mayr, One Long Argument, Chapter 4
In both scholarly and popular literature one frequently finds references to "Darwin's theory of evolution", as though it were a unitary entity. In reality, Darwin's "theory" of evolution was a whole bundle of theories, and it is impossible to discuss Darwin's evolutionary thought constructively if one does not distinguish its various components.

[...]

1. Evolution [...]
2. Common Descent [...]
3. Multiplication of species [...]
4. Gradualism [...]
5. Natural selection. According to this theory, evolutionary change comes about throught [sic] the abundant production of genetic variation in every generation. The relatively few individuals who survive, owing to a particularly well-adapted combination of inheritable characters, give rise to the next generation.


In your latest post ...

Other than noting the organism thrived how was its suitability to the environment derived ? Let me help you out here. Your argument rests on a truism:The organism exists or The organism is suited to its environment. And this is the essence of your statement which of course is just truism. So in order to disguise your truism you turn it into a tautology.


No.  As I stated previously, "Survival of the Fittest" is not a theory, it is a pop-marketing phrase for the theory of Natural Selection.  In my example of the antelope with deformed blood cells I showed that it is not always the fittest that survive and will continue to guarantee the survival of the species.  I also said that we don't say that the elephant is fit because it is here and alive, no, we say that it is fitter than the mammoth because Natural Selection acted on these particular traits which the mammoth didn't have, or the mammoth had these particular adverse traits.

Here comes the most important link of this post - even if you don't follow any of the other links that I have provided - go to this document at the Talk Origins Archive and tell us what about this article you do not understand.

More reading on the same topic was provided by bluegrayV in this previous discussion.

Is the term "natural selection" in an of itself the actual theory or is it a label for some yet to be defined theory that will explain how an egg turns into a chicken?

We have theories for that, in case you didn't know, biologists have studied Fertilisation and Embryology for centuries.  If you think that Natural Selection is supposed to replace these theories then you are very misguided.
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« Reply #42 on: March 19, 2008, 21:14:29 PM »

What has the word "change" or "evolution" got to do with making inquiries ?
In view of ArgumentumAdHominem’s detailed elucidation which strongly suggests that I was hardly being obscure, I am forced to wonder whether you are being deliberately provocative because it seems nigh impossible that anyone really, really could mimic the spectacular density of a neutron star.



Other than noting the organism thrived how was its suitability to the environment derived ?
Other than noting that you keep asking the same silly question over and over, how is your inability to comprehend fairly simple abstract principles to be detected?  Your question is meaningless because it rests on the false assumption that “thriving” and “suitability to the environment” are statically equivalent to one other.  Neither the environment nor the organisms in it remain static in any sense of that word for any length of time.



Let me help you out here. Your argument rests on a truism:The organism exists or The organism is suited to its environment. And this is the essence of your statement which of course is just truism.
Please don’t help me, I implore you.  Of course it’s a truism if you implicitly assume that “thriving” is idempotent to “suited to the environment!”  This implicit assumption is probably the result of it being quite obvious to us today that there is an ongoing dynamic and competitive interplay between organisms and their environment, and forgetting – conveniently, I suspect – that this interdependence was not at all obvious in the past.

So you can insist on calling “tautology” and “truism” all you want because it’ll only show up your profound ignorance for what it really is.  And if you do, then you must necessarily also concede that “E = m∙c2” is a truism and a tautology because it has always been true and there is no reason to doubt that it will continue to be true.



So in order to disguise your truism you turn it into a tautology. You tell me the organism "thrived", obviously how else could it have thrived if it wasn't well suited to its environment?
The environment changed to be even more conducive to the proliferation of that organism, for example if a natural enemy went extinct.  Two words for you: “rabbits” and “Australia”.



Telling me it "thrived" doesn't tell me anything more that what is implied with:" .... well-suited..."
Rubbish.  See above.



Where can I read this formally defined and established theory which you label "Natural Selection".
Richard Dawkins’ book The Blind Watchmaker is just one of an almost endless list of places where good information is to be had.  If you’re really interested, there are many links to resources in this very forum.  You could even attend a reputable university if you want the nitty-gritty low-down.



Is the term "natural selection" in an of itself the actual theory or is it a label for some yet to be defined theory that will explain how an egg turns into a chicken?
Neither.  Think about it, unless you’re being either silly or disingenuous.

'Luthon64
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« Reply #43 on: March 20, 2008, 12:14:54 PM »

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/darwinism.html

"...Natural selection. According to this theory, evolutionary change comes about through the abundant production of genetic variation in every generation. The relatively few individuals who survive, owing to a particularly well-adapted combination of inheritable characters, give rise to the next generation...."

Other than noting that the individuals were well-adapted how was it determined that they survived ?

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« Reply #44 on: March 20, 2008, 14:09:56 PM »

Other than noting that the individuals were well-adapted how was it determined that they survived ?
I think that this sentence demonstrates that your grasp of English is nearly as loose as your grasp on reality.

Would you like to try that again? Perhaps ...
Quote
Other than noting that the individuals [survived] how was it determined that they [were well-adapted] ?
Is this the question you wanted to ask?
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