Respecting opinions:
I make it a point of principle to respect the opinion of others.  Sometimes they get the facts wrong, in which case I do try to make the facts available.  But if they are refused, then it’s the other guy’s life and sanity after all.

So when somebody flatly denies that there is such a thing as evolution, I have a bit of project.  Evolve means “turn out.”  If somebody says things don’t evolve, they might mean nothing changes.  Really?  Wait a few minutes.  Something will change.  That is a case of evolution.

Push it to the max.  Let’s stand at the end of time and look back.  Let’s say we perceive that, all appearances to the contrary, absolutely nothing changed at all.  All right.  Seems unlikely, but suppose that were the case.  That means that is just the way things turned out.  That is the way things evolved.  So you still have to believe in evolution.  So it is quite hard for me to respect an opinion that denies evolution across the board.  But I do it.

Meanwhile, just for fun, thoughts about evolution have evolved rather dramatically.  Here are the stages I see.

  1. Aristotle said your teeth were not made for your convenience, incisors to cut and molars to grind.  They happened by chance and persist because it works.
  2. Darwin said Malthus was right that populations will increase exponentially until the food is gone.  So animals, folks included, are always on the brink of starvation.  Those who manage not to starve are those who work hard, the struggle for existence.  Maybe they develop their minds or bodies.  Their achievements are passed to their offspring, who in turn develop certain advantages which they pass on and la la la new species.  Something over a hundred years ago, this opinion was in conflict with the geneticists, who said no, all that gets passed on is the genes and they are not changed by work.  Thumbs went into eyeballs.
  3. The Modern Synthesis, about a century ago, put it together that evolution is the process of selecting for slightly better genes.  So both the evolutionists and the geneticists were right. It isn’t the struggle, it’s the selection for good genes (where “good” means of course the genes that get selected for.)
  4. Patrick Bateman as I have said, pointed out that nature is a state and nurture is a process, so the two cannot be opposites.  Indeed ambiguities and redundancies in the genome plus interaction between genome and environment and choices by an animal at all levels of structure from chemicals to individuals (and might I say societies and biospheres?) plus feedback loops at all levels produce the individuals that are subject to selection (rather than “selfish genes).
  5. Now (Martin Nowak Why We Help SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN vol. 307 no. 1 July 2012 page 34) they have noticed that cooperation is just as important for evolution as competition.  I should think so.  After all, the one thing in the environment of a gene that is most enduring is the gene that is hooked up next it.  They may ride out their fates together for geological times.  So for me cooperation trumps competition.
  6. And coming soon to a planet near you, there is the concept that a random mating pupation must limit its size or be wiped out by speciation effects.  Extinction of the fittest, if you have a taste for irony.  Population structure is just another layer of structure.
  7. Aristotle said ... you know I still think rather well of Aristotle.


So I also respect the opinion of those who believe in evolution thinking it’s always the same thing.  But I won’t say that’s easy either.

There have been 59,823 visitors so far.  [You know several months ago it looked like we were going to reach 60 grand shortly after the beginning of this year.  I  am beginning to get fixated on the number.  Lie to me if you have to.  Get some friends or even enemies to log in just to run the numbers up a bit.   Then maybe I can think about something else. :o)]

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