Saturday, February 11, 2006
An uncertain future for the 'Evolution Research' Blog?
I like blogger.com because of the ability to email posts but one 'disadvantage' is that it doesn't have 'Categories'. To get around this I followed the advice given here (at bloggerforum.com) but then heard blogger may not like this and could decide to delete my account without prior warning! ('gulp').
A couple of days ago I emailed them to ask if my current configuration was ok but as yet I haven't had any reply. Today, however, things may have taken a turn for the worse:
As you can see from the left hand column I have a 'category' called 'evomech posts' which features the 'output' of the 'Evolution: Where Darwin meets Lamarck? Discussion Forum'. This forum typically has two or three posts a day, and once I start using this blog 'in earnest' to reflect the ongoing research into a possible internal evolutionary mechanism, it will be really useful to have the evomech posts appear here.
Anyway, today I found that evomech posts have started to require word authentication because blogger.com bots think they might be spam! I can see how this might be (the posts are auto-added) but as a result I now have to wait until a 'human' has conducted a review of evomech and come to a decision regarding its future ('fingers crossed' he or she will be in a good mood when they do).
At least this will also resolve the situation regarding the 'categories' configuration - or I hope it will!.
In the meantime I'll continue to work on the blog set-up. Once that is done (I have a feeling that it's never completely 'done') future posts ought to contain more info on how the research is actually going - if I'm still here of course... :)
Friday, February 10, 2006
[This post also appears here in the Main Blog]
Words frozen in time should be differentiated from those carved in stone:
In 1640 Galileo Galilei wrote a letter to Fortunio Liceti in which he said:
"If Aristotle were to see the new discoveries recently [made] in the heavens, whose immobility he had asserted, because no alteration had previously been seen in them, he would now without doubt state the contrary." ['Galileo Galilei - Towards a Resolution of 350 Years of Debate', Paul Cardinal Poupard].
The above statement highlights the danger of placing dependence on words frozen in time without taking into account how different those words might be if their author had had access to the discoveries that have since been made.
Lamarck, for example, published his "Zoological Philosophy" in 1809 and is today popularly associated with "the inheritance of acquired characteristics" whereby organisms somehow direct their own evolution. On the basis of Galileo's words, however, it could be argued that had Lamarck been alive in the 1890s, over thirty years after publication of Darwin's "On the Origin of Species", his views would have progressed from the moment in time in which they had been caught.
With access to the discoveries and discussions that occured throughout the 19th Century it is conceivable that Lamarck might even have reached broad agreement with J. Mark Baldwin over the latter's proposal of an indirect factor in evolution, known today as the "Baldwin Effect", and described in the 1896 paper "A New Factor in Evolution" [American Naturalist].
Pure speculation ,of course, but if sufficient to illustrate a general principle (that "words frozen in time should be differentiated from those carved in stone") then the inappropriateness of interpreting new discoveries or proposals in 'Lamarckian terms' is readily apparent.
Indeed, the general principle can be used to question many acquired cultural beliefs.
[An Error In Associating Lamarck With 'Adaptive Mutations'? is taken from the Model of an Internal evolutionary Mechanism website]
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Evolution: The Horse Whisperer, Richard Dawkins, and Danish Cartoons
Brief notes from an evolutionary perspective:
In March 2005 'The Guardian' newspaper (UK) printed "The Horse Whisperer is called in to tame children" and said:
"Monty Roberts, the original whisperer who inspired the film and has tamed more than 70,000 wild horses, flew to Britain last week to hold a three-day workshop for Global Education Management Systems (Gems), one of the biggest operators of independent schools in the UK."
Further into the article Monty is quoted as saying:
"It takes a leap of faith because here's a cowboy with ways of working with horses, then he starts talking about children,' he said. 'It's a difficult leap for some people, but not for me.
'I am not for a moment suggesting that animals and humans are the same but, psychologically speaking, their behavioural patterns have more similarities than they have differences."
Why are there more "similarities than differences" - and how does Monty know this?
Monty Roberts has repeatedly spoken of the violence he was subjected to as a child and how his father employed the same brutality against horses. So far so good, but that's only the beginning of the answer - after all, people are people and horses, of course, are horses:
"The neurologist Paul MacLean has proposed that our skull holds not one brain, but three, each representing a distinct evolutionary stratum that has formed upon the older layer before it, like an archaeological site. He calls it the "triune brain." MacLean, now the director of the Laboratory of Brain Evolution and Behaviour in Poolesville, Maryland, says that three brains operate like "three interconnected biological computers, [each] with its own special intelligence, its own subjectivity, its own sense of time and space and its own memory". He refers to these three brains as the neocortex or neo-mammalian brain, the limbic or paleo-mammalian system, and the reptilian brain, the brainstem and cerebellum (see above diagram). Each of the three brains is connected by nerves to the other two, but each seems to operate as its own brain system with distinct capacities."
(From The Triune Brain)
As a rule of thumb, the disruption to internal integrity known as psychological trauma (not to be confused with the popular conception of trauma - see Note 1) gives every appearance of occurring somewhere within the limbic system. An indication of how trauma has been part of Man's heritage since 'before there were words' and the probable basis of Monty's non-intellectual empathy with other animals who have sustained a similar injury.
Like the background radiation from the 'Big Bang', psychological trauma pervades every aspect of human society and its characteristic signature can be found in many cultural institutions - and for the purpose of these notes, specifically Religion.
Scotland's Sunday Herald recently said:
CONTROVERSIAL scientist Richard Dawkins will assert tomorrow evening that religion is a 'virus' that amounts to child abuse.
The new two-part series, to be shown on Channel 4 (UK), will compare Moses to Hitler and claim that God is racist. It will also argue that religion is a 'backward belief system' responsible for terrorism.
The controversial films, which were produced by IWC creative director Alan Clements and written by Dawkins, are a polemic against faith and a stout defence of science.
More controversially, he states 'sectarian religious schools' have been 'deeply damaging to generations of children. 'It's time to question the abuse of childhood innocence with superstitious ideas of hellfire and damnation ,' he says. 'Isn't it weird the way we automatically label a tiny child with its parents' religion?'
While disagreeing with Dawkin's perception of how evolutionary changes occur, and aware of the fact that a 'deeply' held belief in aetheism/science can be the other side of the coin to fear of believing in a God of psychological origin (rather than any 'other kind' - if such exist), the above observations hold an uncomfortable truth.
From Channel 4's own page on the program:
In addition, though religions preach morality, peace and hope, in fact, says Dawkins, they bring intolerance, violence and destruction.
Again from a psychological perspective: 'morality' is needed to compensate for the ongoing presence of maladjustment to a compounded trauma within individuals so that they can then co-exist as a group, 'peace' means suppression and internal 'soothing' of the wound (hence the 'sing-song' voice often employed during church services), and 'hope' promises a future free from internal reactions with one's own wound (often caused by other people outwardly expressing the presence of theirs). Unfortunately the hope proferred can only be realized in some kind of 'afterlife'.
In short, and at best, Religion can be seen as an archaic form of therapy. At worst, the surface veneer may easily be broken down and lead to events like those which promped the writing of these notes: people have died over the publication of cartoons!
It is very telling that no God does its own killing...
There is more at issue with Islam here than with the cartoons published in Jyllands-Posten or with the principle of 'freedom of speech'. I for one feel an obligation to those people, who in the Society I live in, once suffered during the process of separating Church from State - the ugliness of the current pedophile scandal in the Roman Catholic Church is but an echo of how much worse things once were.
Finally, and in a related vein, an item from today's Daily Telegraph (UK):
Two hundred years after Anglican reformers helped to abolish the slave trade, the Church of England has apologised for profiting from it.
Last night the General Synod acknowledged complicity in the trade after hearing that the Church had run a slave plantation in the West Indies and that individual bishops had owned hundreds of slaves.
It voted unanimously to apologise to the descendents of the slaves after an emotional debate in which the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, urged the Church to share the "shame and sinfulness of our predecessors".
Monday, February 06, 2006
Evolution, The Evolutionary Mechanism, Psychology
The above link will take you to my main website where you'll find articles on Psychology, Social Psychology, various evolutionary topics, archives (such as Lamark's "Zoological Philosophy") and sundry other stuff.
If you want to go directly to the "Model of an Internal Evolutionary Mechanism (based on an extension to homeostasis) linking Adaptive Mutations to the Baldwin Effect" page then click here.
The model is derived from 'anomalies' found below the level at which psychological trauma occurs: this is different to the popular conception of trauma - see Trauma: A Simple Internal Model
It has been several years since the pages were published on the web and it wasn't until about 6 weeks ago that I suddenly found I now have time to take up the reins again! At the moment, I'm busily researching a rewrite of the proposal (although the core concept will obviously be unchanged) and I thought that creating a blog would make the process more enjoyable - providing anyone reads it of course... :)
In addition to occasional personal posts this blog also contains auto-added entries (all with 'evomech' in the title) from the Evolution: Where Darwin meets Lamarck? discussion forum.
Don't be deterred if the papers from the forum look too technical (a lot of them make my eyes boggle), there's plenty of other stuff in the message archives - just pick and choose the bits you like!
Researching the possibility of an internal mechanism - particularly when its non-intellect based and therefore testable - necessarily raises the question "If an internal mechanism exists, then why hasn't it been found before?".
The subjective answer is because of 'cultural conditioning'. Consequently, the posts I make to evomech are a combination of topics containing the 'homeostatic signature' that I'm looking for and those in which the exploration of natural realities appears to be in conflict with cultural conditioning - to illustrate the basic problem see An Error In Associating Lamarck With 'Adaptive Mutations'?
Any feedback would be welcome, you can add a blog comment to this post, visit the main web site's Guestbook, or email direct
I'm out of time for now but one final (deletes "plea for help") point: As an independent researcher my resources are very limited and I often have difficulty in obtaining papers (for example, see Wanted: 'Obscure' 1889 Paper on Trilobite Eyes & The Fibonacci Series) - if you can help then please do!