Re: virus: Dawkins is an idiot

David Leeper (
Mon, 27 Aug 1956 21:44:36 +0000

David McFadzean,

; Adaptations don't require mutations. I'm sure everyone has heard
; of the example of those moths in England. Before the industrial
; revolution they were mostly white with a few black ones in the
; population. After the industrial revolution, when coal soot coated
; the trees, the black ones were able to escape the notice of
; predatory birds more often then their newly unfit white cousins.
; The moths adapted to the new environment without any mutations.

If the moths were black for some reason other than camouflage even if
that reason is "there is no reason, it just happened" and they now
use their "blackness" as camouflage, this is an example of exaptation.

; >Not in the context used by Dawkins. _Nothing_ goes back down
; >the hill.
; You lost me. How does an evolutionary elitist strategy imply
; something is going down the hill?

Even the extream case of elitism you give, which is an exception
rather than a rule, does not satisfy Dawkins' description of
Evolution. You _can't_ go down the hill. Ever. (Actually, he
does give a few rare exceptions, but you're cloning example does
not fit them.)

; >And non-optimal does not mean it's peaked, as Dawkins claims. I
; >think your "disadvantage" statement is a subjective opinion. Are
; >moose at a disadvantage because of their large antlers? The question
; >is, does the beast get at least as much resources out of what it
; >"spends". In the case of the Flounder I would answer "Yes". The

; I don't think I'm being subjective. One of the great puzzles of
; evolution was why do peacocks grow those enormous tails? It takes
; a lot of energy to grow the tails and they are at a disadvantage
; when it comes to escaping predators. It is not a subjective opinion.
; (The answer, BTW, is sexual selection. An adjunct to natural
; selection, but certainly not non-Darwinian.)

I'm not prepared to equate a Flounder's eyes with a Peacock's tail.
One's sexual selection, the other's not.

And I never said a Peacock's tail was an example of non-Darwinian
evolution. It's not. Non-Darwininan evolution refers to valid
examples of evolution that were not covered by Darwin. An example
of this is mutations in DNA which do not effect phenotypes, and
because most DNA is not used, most mutations in DNA are examples
of non-Darwininan evolution.

; Unfortunately for your argument, there is nothing in Darwinian
; theory that says that mutations occur at regular intervals or
; that mutations necessarily cause phenotypic changes.

The punctuated equilibrium graph wasn't an argument. I thought we may
be using the same terms differently, and I wanted a sanity check,

I'm not arguing against Darwin's theory. I'm arguing against how
Dawkins presents evolution in his new book. I argue that's it's too
limited. I believe his views are influenced by the limitations of his
obsolete "Blind Watchman" program and from the fact that he hasn't
done any research in a long time.

For example, Dawkins gives little or no space to cross-over, but lots
of space to mutation, even though today cross-over is considered more
important than mutation. In the 70's, mutation was considered more
important than cross-over.

; >He goes on to say that beasts cannot go down the hill. This is
; >wrong. Offspring are not required to be more fit than their parents.
; >If a less-fit offspring is fit enough to reproduce, that's good
; >enough.

; Yes, if Dawkins says that he is wrong. It is strange that he has
; already forgotten about so-called 'outlaw genes' which lower
; inclusive fitness. He mentioned them extensively in "The Extended
; Phenotype".

Strange indeed. Notice I'm not objecting to anything in "The Extended

; >BTW, did Dawkins originate the "meme" concept?

; No, but he named it.

What are some of the concepts Dawkins has originated?

David Leeper
Homo Deus  
1 + 1 != 2