Survival of the fittest - what does it mean ?

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ArgumentumAdHominem (March 18, 2008, 07:18:37 AM):
::) 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 mean. :D
bluegray (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.
Mefiante (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
metari1 (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.
Mefiante (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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