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  #21  
Unread June 3rd, 2006, 11:41 AM
Carey N Carey N is offline
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Default Re: Emergent Networks and Fine Art

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred
Well Carey, if you’re saying that the individuals/traits having higher survival and reproduction rates are always going to, well, survive and reproduce at higher rates, and that therefore we can always predict that, well, the individuals/traits having higher survival and reproduction rates are always going to, well, survive and reproduce at higher rates—unless something changes where those individuals/traits no longer have the higher survival and reproduction rates, in which case other individuals/traits will have higher survival and reproduction rates, well then, yes, I’d say that’s a slam-dunk . . . although I still find the circularity less than satisfying.
You're missing the big picture . . . the whole point is that survival and reproduction are context-dependent - the goal is to understand why particular phenotypes are fit in particular environments, at which point it's quite easy to see that there's nothing circular about selection. Rather, there is a feedback process between gene pools and environments, which is dynamic in time and space due to variation in both elements of the interaction. There is nothing circular about natural selection when you understand it correctly as the result of the interaction of organisms with each other and their surroundings within and across generations.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred
I doubt that you could persuasively argue that, say, Newton’s laws of motion/gravity and/or Einstein’s general relativity explanations are circular.
This isn't even relevant to the debate - if you can even call our discussion a debate, as you're not really reading what I'm writing.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred
I don’t know that your charges of any supposed circularity are terribly relevant—those guys, and I, more or less acknowledge that our deism is a belief, although a belief by those who have studied and understood the mathematics and the science and evidence involving the more profound mysteries of the universe
Blah blah blah . . . you're just hiding behind your big-name references. A strength of evolution by natural selection is that it actually provides testable predictions, and so can move beyond the realm of "belief"


Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred
Dawkins, the credentialed Oxford zoologist (and raging atheist), readily acknowledges—that natural selection is a belief that can’t be proved.
I have a strong feeling that you have misinterpreted whatever Dawkins was saying - please send me the source material in which you think he stated that natural selection is a belief.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred
I’d say that we all, more or less, appeal to some sort of authority, and perhaps argue what we perceive to be the most credible/persuasive/convincing points and conclusions made by such authority.
No, actually, I've been arguing based on principles, while you've just been referring to what others have stated, believing that their clout is proof of their correctness.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred
Although you seem to acknowledge, to some degree, the circularity of natural selection
No, Fred . . . go back and read my posts more carefully.

Last edited by Carey N; June 3rd, 2006 at 12:56 PM.
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  #22  
Unread June 3rd, 2006, 01:06 PM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
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Default Re: Emergent Networks and Fine Art

I previously have stated what I believe to be an axiom of human nature:
Quote:
People believe what feels good to them - and use their brains to justify it.
This is a shorter version of my thesis that intellect is greatly over-rated as a determinant of our most important decisions about life. Intellect holds only a secondary position - it is only used to justify what we already believe (know emotionally) to be true about the world and our place in it.

That's why it is amazing to me that you can carry on a discussion with Fred and believe that he is lazy, or unwilling to do the reading to understand the most basic scientific explanations of biology. You said to Fred,
Quote:
You're missing the forest for the trees . . . the whole point is that survival and reproduction are context-dependent - the goal is to understand why particular phenotypes are fit in particular environments, at which point it's quite easy to see that there's nothing circular about selection.
You continue to make reasoned arguments, believing against all hope that you'll finally state it in such a compelling way that Fred will be forced to understand the reasoning behind your assertions and will be forced by his intellectual honesty to accept them - or be revealed as intellectually dishonest.

Fred can't do that for you - any more than he can for Tom (or me, chuckle). Fred believes in a fundamentally different meta-narrative of life and existence than you do. That narrative is guiding his mind - not reason - just as ultimately yours is guiding yours. For Fred, any evidence or argument that falsifies or even casts doubt on his narrative - must be rejected and ridiculed. Anyone attempting to falsify his narrative must be opposed. His large number of posts provide massive and incontrovertible evidence for that. Fred's very reason for being here is to carry on that mission in this particularly heretic rich environment.

A narrative is a set of inter-related beliefs about the world that support each other and tell a larger story. A meta-narative is a set of inter-related narratives that support each other - like the Christian meta-narrative of why life exists and its purpose - as decribed in the many narratives of the gospels. The scientific meta-narrative that tries to address similar question using a different (and opposite) framework is Darwinian evolution..

I am not saying Fred is a bad or dishonest person - despite my frequent anger at him. We all start from a fundamental narrative of life and existence - and once that narrative becomes integrated into our identity we must defend it - just as Fred is doing. What makes one person different from another - in these discussions - are a few events in our early lives - probably in our teens - where we found we were more comfortable (we felt emotionally more satisfied) harboring a scientific vs. a theistic meta-narrative.

Which side of this divide we decided to spend our lives on was not determined by our intelligence or honesty. It had to do with even earlier childhood experiences, our relationship with our parents and siblings, our friends and their parents and siblings, our church and school experience, etc. It was a purely emotional decision tied in the most intimate ways to our identity - to who we are - as all such crucial decisions are.

Your meta-narrative, scientific naturalism, was not chosen because you were intelligent - any more than Fred's was. You are both well above average IQ, I am sure.

It is an accident of your past that you ended up on the side of that divide that lends itself to justification according to relatively straightforward rules of scientific evidence. And it was a similar accident that now Fred needs to reach for more philosophically grounded justifications for his. That's even to his advantage in some ways because philosophic lemmas are neither easy to understand nor refute.

My point is that there is no point - for persons with opposite meta-narratives to argue the relative merits of evolutionary explanations for life with each other. You both think you are arguing points about that topic but you are both incapable of violating your respective meta-narratives.

Obviously, I made the choice long ago to go with the scientific (non-theistic) view. All that really means though, is that scientific ideas feel better to me when I consider them - and religious explanations feel coarse and uncomfortable in my mind. I have no emotional choice but to savor the former and expell that latter.

When you argue with Fred, you are not arguing about the vailidity of evolution as you seem to think you are. You are both trying to falsify the other's meta-narrative. That could be an even more interesting discussion to follow if you had the inclination to do that directly - although equally futile - but there's no way you'll make progress discussing Darwinian evolution with Fred, or any other theist.

I'm not pointing this out to show some shortcoming in either of your minds - I think they both work very well - but to use your discussion to illustrate that universal way that all our minds work,
Quote:
People have no other choice but to believe what feels good to them - and they have no other choice but to use their brains to justify it.
For either of you to win this argument one of you will have to become a different person. Good luck on that.

Margaret

Last edited by Margaret McGhee; June 3rd, 2006 at 05:31 PM.
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  #23  
Unread June 3rd, 2006, 05:17 PM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: Emergent Networks and Fine Art

Quote:
MM: I previously have stated what I believe to be an axiom of human nature: People believe what feels good to them - and use their brains to justify it.

This is a shorter version of my thesis that intellect is greatly over-rated as a determinant of our most important decisions about life.
Hmmm, sounds like a version of dumb and dumber . . . and yet, somehow, MM made a “choice,” “long ago to go with the scientific (non-theistic) view.” I wonder if even a “fawning undergrad psych student” would find MM’s propositions to be circular and/or vacuous? Carey, I’m so glad that MM is on your side.
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  #24  
Unread June 3rd, 2006, 05:57 PM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: Emergent Networks and Fine Art

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JimB: Bless you all by whatever gods may be, that I can vanish for a week or more and no one changes!

Love you all...well, almost all!
Aw shucks Jim, Margaret ain’t so bad . . . except for the paranoia; the ideology; the use of terms such as “bully,” “coward,” “asshole,” “ideologue,” the "Full Monte” of the “writings of a famous racist” . . . oh, never mind.
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  #25  
Unread June 3rd, 2006, 09:00 PM
Carey N Carey N is offline
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Default Re: Emergent Networks and Fine Art

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Originally Posted by Fred
Carey, I’m so glad that MM is on your side.
Actually, buddy, she condescended to both of us in that post of hers, so she's not really on either side.
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  #26  
Unread June 4th, 2006, 01:13 AM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
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Default Re: Emergent Networks and Fine Art

Condensending? Like telling Fred that,
Quote:
This isn't even relevant to the debate - if you can even call our discussion a debate, as you're not really reading what I'm writing.
Now, that's condensending.

My intention was to state that you can't argue identity beliefs with reason - and I was pretty clear about that. Neither of you will be able to accept a reasonable argument that negates your identity. I also put myself subject to those same limitations - so maybe I'm being condensending to myself.

If you don't agree with what I said, just say so. Don't pretend it's condensending.
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  #27  
Unread June 4th, 2006, 06:30 AM
Carey N Carey N is offline
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Default Re: Emergent Networks and Fine Art

I could say that to Fred because it was actually true . . . perhaps he's read my posts more carefully now, but at the time, it was pretty clear that he hadn't. I don't think he's lazy for a moment, but I do think that, on occassion, he will pick up only on the parts of my posts that he wants to read and respond to them alone, rather than to the whole message.

You, on the other hand, wrote a long post describing how our discussion is essentially useless, for all of our core thoughts are governed by accidents of history, and neither one of us is really capable of changing his mind (what's the point of debating with someone who doesn't already share your belief system, then?). I like to think that I am open to change, even on the most fundamental of my "identity beliefs" . . . I'm not going to switch to deism any time soon, but I'm more than willing accept a fault in, say, natural selection, if someone has reasonably argued that there really is one. Fred has not done that to my satisfaction, hence the continuing discussion.

Even if you're correct about meta-narratives and identity beliefs, we will continue to argue anyway because it's fun.
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  #28  
Unread June 4th, 2006, 10:47 AM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: Emergent Networks and Fine Art

Quote:
[Carey to MM:] You, on the other hand, wrote a long post describing how our discussion is essentially useless, for all of our core thoughts are governed by accidents of history, and neither one of us is really capable of changing his mind (what's the point of debating with someone who doesn't already share your belief system, then?).
Couldn’t have said it better myself, Carey.

BTW Carey, did you notice the similarity of JimB’s thinking to my own regarding the circularity thing—i.e., using his words, “‘If it's alive, it was selected,’ has problems?”—But not to worry, you don’t need to apologize for your less than kind emotional outburst, in all caps no less, indicating that I myself was “THE ONLY ONE WHO THINKS SO.” And besides Carey, I suspect that JimB probably still likes you best.

Hugs and kisses.
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  #29  
Unread June 4th, 2006, 12:48 PM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
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Default Re: Emergent Networks and Fine Art

Carey, Just when I think this forum has gone well beyond the point where anyone has anything interesting to say, someone comes up with a post that actually contains thoughts and ideas worth considering - like your post that this is in reply to.

I realize that what I am saying goes against the CW and also that any premise that demotes the role of intellect in human discourse will be seen as insulting to many. But, that only reinforces my contention that we all believe what feels good and use our brains to justify it. It doesn't feel good to violate the CW. We instinctively feel that others will ridicule us and say mean things to us - as you and Fred and JB do to me continuously. Likewise, it doesn't feel good to think that our logical arguments are often just extensions of our identity beliefs - made to defend them. It's interesting that my ideas violate different core beliefs in each of you and so you each try to attack me and my ideas from different positions - although you do gang up occasionally.

You said,
Quote:
You, on the other hand, wrote a long post describing how our discussion is essentially useless, for all of our core thoughts are governed by accidents of history, and neither one of us is really capable of changing his mind (what's the point of debating with someone who doesn't already share your belief system, then?). I like to think that I am open to change, even on the most fundamental of my "identity belief.
Your most fundamental identity belief is in rationalism and scientific process. Are you ready to accept some supernatural theory of soul or spiritual possession of human minds in place of the currently incomplete explanations of human nature offered by evolution and neurobiology? Of course not.

No matter what Fred says that cleverly tries to make a toe-hold for such an explanation - you will find a rational way to discredit it. You think you are offering rational alternative explanations and giving Fred a lesson in evolutionary theory. Really though, there is nothing you could say that would shake Fred's belief in a theistic basis for human nature - his fundamental identity belief. And certainly by now, you know that.
Note that your discussion with Fred is a microcosm of the ID debate raging elsewhere. While the audience is limited here, I believe the motives, the kinds of arguments and emotions being felt by both sides are quite similar. This similarity in patterns (emergent networks some might call them) tells me that something important about human nature is going on here.
So, the interesting question to me is why do you persist? I propose it is because Fred's ideas violate your core belief in rationalism - and your answers are to provide you the emotional satisfaction of responding to that emotional insult. As a scientist you have the tools in your possession to do a pretty good job of that. But aside from the tacit approval of JB and perhaps Todd, and the emotional satisfaction that comes from that, you know your tools will do nothing to cause Fred to change his core beliefs. As you said yourself,
Quote:
Even if you're correct about meta-narratives and identity beliefs, we will continue to argue anyway because it's fun.
Please, do not read my posts as insults. There's no way I can honestly discuss this without violating both the CW and your personal belief that you only make arguments for rational scientific reasons. Both of those views will be interpreted emotionally as insults (or perhaps condescension) by most who are exposed to them. That's not my purpose. I really think this is an important idea that explains many perplexing aspects of human behavior. I'd even say it's possibly an important missing link in evolutionary psychology that has been well insulated from discussion and consideration by our human natures (and our cognicentric view of the mind) that it hopes to explain.

I am trying to get past that wall. I am finding however, that even in a forum supposedly dedicated to objective discussions of human nature and psychology, it is extremely difficult if not impossible to do. No doubt, much of that difficulty is the result of those times when I have responded angrily to what seemed like provocation at the time. As I have said before, usually right after I responded, I regret those and would retract them if I could.

I still hope that we could discuss these things (that I believe are very important concepts) without the emotional discomfort that I know they produce.

(I follow up on this on the other thread "Implications of Somatic Behavior Choice".) Link

Margaret

Last edited by Margaret McGhee; June 4th, 2006 at 04:45 PM.
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  #30  
Unread June 4th, 2006, 05:32 PM
Carey N Carey N is offline
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Default Re: Emergent Networks and Fine Art

Quote:
did you notice the similarity of JimB’s thinking to my own regarding the circularity thing
You bet I saw it . . . will respond as coherently as possible in the thread that JimB started.
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