Evolution


6
Jun 13

My mild problem with evolution

In the beginning there was creationism.  Then knowledge expanded and science proved itself useful and people realized that many of their original ideas were wrong.  Evolution was a fine advance in the theory of everything.  Since then though progress on that theory has stopped and people have replaced it with endless waves of confirmation bias.

Both creationism and evolution are unprovable, after all, it’s not like we can recreate either one in a lab.  Any evidence that comes up can be cherry picked and rationalized, I can come up with several plausible theories on why birds have feathers, why women are (supposedly) more monogamous than men, why we have genders, etc. But it seems like Darwin came up with the theory of evolution lo those many years ago, and everyone stopped looking for theories on the origin of the species, and just set out to defend it against creationism, and never put any effort into coming up with something better. It’s as if someone discovered that it was easier to haul crops into town on a wagon, and then committed himself to the wagon, and no one ever thought of the truck.

Why hasn’t there been anything new?


8
Apr 08

Tuesday rapid fire


8
Jan 08

Evolution, Ron Paul, etc

I was going to write a post about the evolution vs creationism debate, specifically about this post, but why? Granted, a lot of people really do care about their side of the debate, but what they really like doing is nagging other people about a matter with no consequences at all. What makes it more interesting is that no one denies the basic theory (adaptation, survival of the fittest, etc) but the origins of life are in question.

The religious impulse is strong in a high percentage of people, whether they believe in a higher power or not.


6
Jan 08

Sunday rapid fire

  • Living in three centuries – amazing photography
  • Public defender suspended for using n-word – while quoting someone no less! Inoffensive language has become the new way to show social piety.
  • A profile of David Simon, author of two of my favorite books, and creator of one of my favorite television shows. The Wire starts tonight.
  • The evolution debate is strange. Ron Paul says he doesn’t believe in some version of it, and an army of commenters jumps in to criticize. For something as trivial as the evolution-Creationism debate (trivial in the sense that being wrong does not affect the outcome) the level of vigor and venom is surprising. It would be interesting to know if belief in evolution was proportional in someway to having children.

6
Jul 07

National brain drains and blog posts – the easy way

One of my grand unformed theories is that the 20th century’s genocides and ethnic cleansings have acted as a categorical shift in evolution, both social and biological.

A significant part of that theory is that talent leaves one country for another (AKA – a brain drain, as part of the Ricardian Triangle of Land – Labor – Capital) but I’ve never formed the thoughts that much. I made a comment on Dan Tdaxp’s blog on a related post noting that I was surprised he hadn’t written anything about it either.

Imagine my surprise when a day later he writes The Consequences of Brain Drains in Developing Countries. Life is much easier when other people do all the work…


25
Jun 07

IQ and birth order

An interesting story on IQ and birth order appeared in the New York Times recently. It makes sense, and jibes with my experience. Money grafs:

The average difference in I.Q. was slight — three points higher in the eldest child than in the closest sibling — but significant, the researchers said. And they said the results made it clear that it was due to family dynamics, not to biological factors like prenatal environment.

“Like Darwin’s finches, they are eking out alternative ways of deriving the maximum benefit out of the environment, and not directly competing for the same resources as the eldest,” Dr. Sulloway said. “They are developing diverse interests and expertise that the I.Q. tests do not measure.”

This kind of experimentation might explain evidence that younger siblings often live more adventurous lives than their older brother or sister. They are more likely to participate in dangerous sports than eldest children, and more likely to travel to exotic places, studies find. They tend to be less conventional than firstborns, and some of the most provocative and influential figures in science spent their childhoods in the shadow of an older brother or sister (or two or three or four).

Interesting stuff. The older sibling is the best situated to take advantage of the existing structure, so they take advantage of that, and the younger sibling is shielded from the consequences of risk taking, so they consume more of it.


14
May 07

Monday link roundup


4
Apr 07

Super Jews are coming! Duck!

Mathew Yglesias links to a Charles Murray article in Commentary about the apparent brainpower edge of the Jewish people. For the most part, Yglesias’ commenters go off on the notion of implied inequality with a few dissents.

To me this is partial proof of evolution. The world has changed to a mostly urban lifestyle, and Jews have been living in cities for much longer than most groups. That would make them more suited to score higher than other groups on what we measure on IQ tests. Jewish culture essentially “chose” the right path to the future.

Throw in non-random mating and the fact that Jewish culture values literacy more than most other cultures and it seems quite reasonable that Jews would score higher on whatever test the psychologists can throw at them.

None of this matters much (yay minimalist view of politics) but it is interesting. I imagine it is as unprovable as are most other evolutionary theories.


9
Jun 06

Friday round up


Quotes That Caught My Eye
Eric Hoffer

  • The poor on the borderline of starvation live purposeful lives. To be engaged in a desperate struggle for food and shelter is to be wholly free from a sense of futility.
  • We lie the loudest when we lie to ourselves.
  • It is thus with most of us; we are what other people say we are. We know ourselves chiefly by hearsay.

Ambrose Bierce

  • Acquaintance, n.: A person whom we know well enough to borrow from, but not well enough to lend to.
  • There is nothing new under the sun but there are lots of old things we don’t know.
  • To be positive: To be mistaken at the top of one’s voice.

H.L. Mencken

  • An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
  • Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.
  • Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable.
  • Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.
  • I believe that all government is evil, and that trying to improve it is largely a waste of time.
  • It is even harder for the average ape to believe that he has descended from man.
  • Say what you will about the Ten Commandments, you must always come back to the pleasant fact that there are only ten of them.
  • The capacity of human beings to bore one another seems to be vastly greater than that of any other animal.