Survival of the fittest - what does it mean ?

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metari1 (January 17, 2008, 19:39:55 PM):
http://scienceblogs.com/evolvingthoughts/2007/04/what_makes_natural_selection_a.php

"...Charles Darwin adopted Herbert Spencer's metaphor "Survival of the Fittest" to describe how natural selection operates in the fifth and sixth editions of the Origin of Species at the urging of Alfred Wallace. Unfortunately "Survival of the Fittest" is a very misleading metaphor. It does not help students gain an adequate understanding of what the natural processes are that really make selection a powerful process..."

John Wilkins:
http://groups.google.com/group/talk.origins/browse_frm/thread/cc737705dbc10c8e?tvc=1
"... "survival of the fittest" is a verbal shorthand for complex math. The *math* is not a tautology - for the terms in the equations are interpreted, which means they are what gives the equations substance. For SotF to be an *empty* tautology, and not a contentful one (i.e., a definition), you would need to show that the terms are not interpretable...."

John Wilkins wrote:
http://groups.google.com/group/talk.origins/browse_thread/thread/38df9a9a127281a8/cea310284f6d201c#cea310284f6d201c
"Many were worried about the voluntaristic implications of the use of the term "selection": this is why Wallace and Spencer insisted on changing it to "survival of the fittest", which lacks that implication. Darwin adopted it, but it raised a whole host of other problems - the main one being that it made the whole thing into a tautology, which it wasn't. The main difficulty is that our language *is* voluntaristic, and we don't have a ready made vocabulary without connontations for
talking about an a posteriori outcome. "Goals" are unfortunately part of the vernacular - we talk about "in order to" in biology, but we *don't* mean that a particular biological property thereby happened with that outcome in "mind". Because it achieved that result, it was retained. That's selection in biology."

Chris Colby:
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-intro-to-biology.html#natsel
The phrase "survival of the fittest" is often used synonymously with natural selection. The phrase is both incomplete and misleading.


If a monkey kicks over a box with letters forming the term SoF - it would have no intent. It would be as meaningless as picking up a piece of paper with "You have a green light", what was the intent of the author, without knowing the intent the sentence isn't even wrong.

Now would anybody around here know what was Spencer and Darwin's intent with SoF. Darwin said it is "..more accurate.." than NS.


bluegray (January 18, 2008, 00:30:53 AM):
An individual that is better adapted to it's environment than another member of it's species, that it is in competition with for resources, will be more likely to survive and pass on it's genes. It's genes are naturally selected and passed on because it fitted better into it's specific ecological niche, or because it was fitter to survive in its specific ecological niche.

So there is room for both terms when talking about evolution, depending on which part you are referring to.

metari1 (January 18, 2008, 11:37:16 AM):
An individual that is better adapted to it's environment than another member of it's species, that it is in competition with for resources, will be more likely to survive and pass on it's genes.


A tautology is defined as something which is true by definition and for which not test can be devised to disprove. In what way would your sentence not be a tautology, what test would you give me to disprove or to falsify what you have written. Because your sentence is true by definition.

A tautology is defined as a series of statements that comprise an argument, which statements are constructed in such a way that the truth of the proposition is guaranteed. Consequently the statement conveys no useful information regardless of it's length or complexity. Thus, for a simple example, the statement "if you can't find something (that you lost), you are not looking in the right place" is tautological. It is also true, but conveys no useful information. As a physical example, to play a game of darts where the dart board was full of bullseyes, could be called a "tautological" game. You can't lose. Any argument containing a tautological statement is thus flawed logically and must be considered erroneous.

A tautological argument is not an argument; a tautological game is not a game. (As an aside, a great many of the later, "more advanced" books on evolution attempt to explain away this tautology by some beautiful, highly complex, arguments; e.g. Mayr and or, Gould. Upon close examination of these arguments it will be found that the conclusion is usually obtained by a metaphysical "division by zero"

For example Gould said at http://whatnaturaled.blogspot.com
"[T]he geological record features episodes of high dying, during which extinction-prone groups are more likely to disappear, leaving extinction-resistant groups as life's legacy."
S.J. Gould & N. Eldredge, "Punctuated equilibrium comes of age", Nature (1993) 366:223-7, p. 225.
Anyone wants to tell me how this "extinction-proneness" was measured, except by noting that the groups went extinct?

It should also be noted that some apologists for Darwinian logic claim that mathematical equations such as f = ma, or e = mc2 could also be termed tautologies. This is a faulted attempt to vindicate Darwinism which could be termed "innocence by association"; in either case, [and in every case of a mathematical expression] the terms on both sides of the equation are defined elsewhere independently, and thus the equal sign does not mean "is defined by" but rather {hate to say it} but is equal to, thus establishing an equivalence. This equivalence may establish a new "law", hitherto unknown.
Mefiante (January 18, 2008, 13:19:23 PM):
In what way would your sentence not be a tautology, …
In the way that it describes a statistical trend, not each and every specific instance. In the same way as saying that a fair die will on average show a six once in six throws; however you cannot guarantee a six on any particular throw or series of throws of finite length.



… what test would you give me to disprove or to falsify what you have written.
For one example, breeding a colony of bacteria whose antibiotic resistance decreases with exposure to same over several generations. A little imagination will throw up a glut of other conceivable counterexamples.



Upon close examination of these arguments it will be found that the conclusion is usually obtained by a metaphysical "division by zero"
Can you support this rather serious allegation of intellectual fraud with a source or a reference? Or are they your own invention? Because the last time I looked, Gould and Mayr were still held in very high esteem by their surviving peers.



For example Gould said…
Anyone wants to tell me how this "extinction-proneness" was measured, except by noting that the groups went extinct?
Only if you tell us how Newton arrived at the idea of universal gravitation except by noting that everything is gravitationally attracted to everything else. Your semantic ruses are growing tiresome.



It should also be noted that some apologists for Darwinian logic claim that mathematical equations such as f = ma, or e = mc2 could also be termed tautologies. This is a faulted attempt to vindicate Darwinism which could be termed "innocence by association"; in either case, [and in every case of a mathematical expression] the terms on both sides of the equation are defined elsewhere independently, and thus the equal sign does not mean "is defined by" but rather {hate to say it} but is equal to, thus establishing an equivalence. This equivalence may establish a new "law", hitherto unknown.
This is where your wilful ignorance really shines through in a big way because you creationists either don’t read or don’t want to understand what you read. Anyone who argues as above is conflating a law of nature with a theorem in mathematics or formal logic.

Equations in physics like “F = m×a” or “E = m×c2” are abstract expressions of relationships about observables in the physical world. They are descriptive, not prescriptive. If you trace them back far enough, they are empirically derived: Newton’s Second Law of motion was the result of careful observation and experimentation. If you look at the wording, the mathematical formulation is “F = k×dp/dt.” With (1) a suitable choice of units of measure, (2) restricting the vectors F and p to be collinear and (3) the assumption that the mass remains constant, the formulation becomes the more usual “F = m×a” formula. Einstein’s mass-energy equivalence is a logical consequence of the postulate that underpins Special Relativity, itself based on Galilean and Newtonian mechanics when applied to Maxwell’s equations. There’s no hint of any tautology in such physical relationships because they are descriptions that bear a direct correspondence to things that are measurable, at least in principle. Without that correspondence they are at best interesting baubles.

In contrast, pure mathematics and formal logic deal with so-called “axiomatic formal systems,” that is, systems that have (1) a set of basic axioms (basic assumptions that are thought to be self-evidently true), and (2) a set of rules of inference that describe valid procedures and methods for combining the axioms into so-called theorems. Every theorem in an axiomatic formal system is necessarily a tautology because it is already inherent in the axioms and the rules of inference that govern the formal system. But this is not the same thing as saying that such theorems are trivial or useless or fruitless – quite the opposite, in fact. For examples, you need look no further than geometry, Euclidean as well as non-Euclidean.

Okay?

'Luthon64
bluegray (January 18, 2008, 13:37:06 PM):
An individual that is better adapted to it's environment than another member of it's species, that it is in competition with for resources, will be more likely to survive and pass on it's genes.

A tautology is defined as something which is true by definition and for which not test can be devised to disprove. In what way would your sentence not be a tautology, what test would you give me to disprove or to falsify what you have written. Because your sentence is true by definition.

A tautology is defined as a series of statements that comprise an argument, which statements are constructed in such a way that the truth of the proposition is guaranteed. Consequently the statement conveys no useful information regardless of it's length or complexity. Thus, for a simple example, the statement "if you can't find something (that you lost), you are not looking in the right place" is tautological. It is also true, but conveys no useful information. As a physical example, to play a game of darts where the dart board was full of bullseyes, could be called a "tautological" game. You can't lose. Any argument containing a tautological statement is thus flawed logically and must be considered erroneous.
By your definition of a tautology, it is in itself a tautology, must I consider it is therefore logically flawed and erroneous? ;)

What I posted was in response to your question:
Now would anybody around here know what was Spencer and Darwin's intent with SoF. Darwin said it is "..more accurate.." than NS.
And even by your definition of a tautology, it can't be seen as such. It does not claim to be the truth, and it can be easily disproved by finding an organism in which genes or attributes that are detrimental as a whole to its survival are still being selected or carried over in some way.

What Darwin and others proposed was a method to explain the physical evidence that we see in nature, and that explanation is still the best one we have. It has since been refined and reinforced by new evidence. By rejecting NS or SotF you will have to come up with some other explanation, and since by your definition any religion is a prime example of your tautology, I am curious to hear your explanation for all the physical evidence and observations in nature. How did we and all the millions of other species come to be?

(As an aside, a great many of the later, "more advanced" books on evolution attempt to explain away this tautology by some beautiful, highly complex, arguments; e.g. Mayr and or, Gould.
May I ask what books on evolution you have read?

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