What should I say to the biology haters, those who say that biology lovers are kids and physics lovers are legends?

What should I say to the biology haters, those who say that biology lovers are kids and physics lovers are legends?

[ 20/May/21 ]

I’d explain to them in the following way that really don’t understand what they are talking about.

To start to seriously understand what biology is you need to be part physicist (the structure and evolution of the universe resulting in the environments that allow for the emergence of life, to the quantum mechanics of biochemistry, and then to the possibilities available to us as biological entities), part mathematician (to understand the strategic underpinnings of the evolution of complexity and then the emergence of modeling systems leading to intelligence), and to be willing to put in that level of time, one has to have a deep passion for the complexity that is the life that we are, and are surrounded by, and are dependent upon at so many different levels.

If anyone really wants to understand biology, if your love of it really is that deep, then you have to do the work to understand physics, mathematics, logics, systems, uncertainty, etc.

The more deeply we understand our own biases and limits, the more we are able to generate technologies and practices to transcend those limits and explore new dimensions of understanding and complexity.

Having been doing that for about 60 years there seems to be no end to it.

Should I live for the rest of eternity it seems very likely that I will still be discovering interesting things about biology; it does in fact seem to be that complex.

Posted in Nature, understanding | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Foundations of Logic – Wrongness of consciousness?

[ 20/May/21 Walter Kant – Foundations of logic asked – “Is consciousness a major source and cause of human errors of thought, human misconceptions and misleading faiths?

Yes or No.

My contribution:
Consciousness is created by the brain, so only a functioning brain can cause something to become conscious !?”]

No.

It is deeply more complex than that.

There are many levels of modulators of neural function.

The presence or absences of various chemical modulators of synaptic function can have exactly the same sets of synaptic connections perform vastly different functions in the presents of different sets of modulators. Almost one hundred have already been characterised, and it is suspected by some working in that field that there may be as many as 200 actually present in most brains.

So the simple models of the mind and consciousness pictured above vastly over-simplify the complexity that is actually present.

The synaptic modulation system above effectively allows almost the entire brain to be used for any of the functions if there is sufficient need. The controllers of such functionality are fascinating to study.

As someone who is autistic, and without the drivers that most have for modulating social attention and social agreement in conversation, I have had essentially 60 years to investigate and develop my own sets of abstractions and relationships about how all these levels of systems and logic work to produce us. It is a deeply complex picture, with at least 15 levels of nested sets of complex adaptive systems seeming to be required to generate a self aware human being; and the system seemingly capable of indefinite extension beyond that base (though resolution of other levels necessarily degrades as one explores any particular level).

So the real picture is deeply more complex, with well over 50% of the brain’s computational capacity able to be directed to the functioning of any particular level of consciousness on an as needed basis (and even with a great deal of training and practice consciousness is not necessarily the director of which level or subsystem receives the greatest processing capacity – some of those systems are at base ancient).

So the picture is overly simplistic, as in some individuals, at some times, consciousness can be vastly more than 50% of total brain capacity. And it is more complex still, because usually more than half the neurons people have exist outside the brain, and they are chemically connected to the modulators of synaptic function, as well as sharing some electrical connections.

We are not simple; and we do have strong sets of biases to prefer simple models.

[followed by Dirk responded “Ted takes his biggest hammer again..”]

I’m autistic 😉 Why would I do anything less ???

[followed by Dirk responded with a Care emoji]

I don’t see autism as a problem necessarily.

It is a condition, with positive and negative impacts depending on context.

While it has caused me some severe issues, it has also given me an ability to do some classes of things that few possess.

So I am not in any sense asking for sympathy when I state I am autistic, it is simply a fact that it helps to consider when one is building a useful model of a situation.

Right now, if someone came to me with the option of being neurotypical, I would definitely choose to remain autistic. For me, the benefits definitely outweigh all the costs.

Posted in Brain Science, Philosophy, understanding | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Comments to a Science denier on the question Did various vertebrates evolve from a common ancestor?

Reply to Did various vertebrates evolve from a common ancestor?

[ 19/May/21 S Alrich wrote … “There is no reason based on observations to suggest vertebrates of different kinds are related” …]

This is simply ignorant nonsense, and ignores all of biochemistry.

[followed by 20/May/2021 “All we have ever observed was micro orgasms, animals and plants producing offspring of the same kind. It is thus speculation to claim common ancestry of different kind of orgasms that can’t interbreed”]

Actually that is wrong.

If you look closely at your children, they are all different.

If you look closely at populations that have been isolated from each other for periods of time, they are different. Someone whose ancestors all came from a particular valley in Papua New Guinea will look very different from someone whose ancestors have lived in a high valley in the Himalayas for generations (as one example).

What we call “same kind” is an indication of the level of observation we apply to a situation. If you actually spend the time to become familiar with micro-organisms at the level of detail of their chemistry, then they show variability just like our children do (of different kinds and degrees of course). The idea of “kind” is a simplification applied by the human brain.

Offspring can usually interbreed with others nearby, and sometimes not (very rarely).

There is one very well characterised population of gulls that in England occur as two species, but if you track them around the globe, the populations of one of them, going west to east can interbreed, but by the time you get all the way around the world and back to England, they are sufficiently different that they no longer interbreed there. They are a new species there.

That process can actually be observed, if you are interested in observing it.

Thus all the claims made are claims of ignorance.

They are simply wrong.

It is understandable that many people believe such claims, because it is hard to give up the security of the dogma of truth (any truth) and stand in uncertainty and do the hard work to make assessments to establish enough reliability to be able to say that it seems very unlikely that some of the old truths have any real correlation to reality.

As human beings, most of us have brains that are strongly genetically biased for social agreement over any sort of independent assessment of reality.

I am atypical in that respect.

I am autistic.

My brain does not have those genetic biases for social agreement.

I am capable of holding opinions based on evidence without any agreement from any other people, and have been doing so for 60 some years.

So while I understand that many people prefer the agreement of community over doing the work to check out the detail of claims, I am not one of those.

I have some 60 years of detailed observation and analysis of biological and social systems without any need for social agreement, and the modern synthesis of evolutionary biology (which is a deeply complex set of systems and strategies that have emerged from the simple beginnings of a suite of ideas that Darwin wrote about in On the origin of Species) is just so obviously real to me, beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt, that it is hard for me to appreciate just how strong those biases for social agreement in many brains must be for someone like you to have written what you wrote, clearly ignorant of the facts, yet so certain in that ignorance; yet obviously such must in fact be the case.

[followed by]

How many thousand hours have you personally spent observing and analysing bacteria?

Given that you wrote Steph bacteria, I strongly suspect the answer is 0. (Staphylococcus aureus is the most dangerous of the common bacteria, and one I have spent quite a few hundred hours working with in laboratory conditions.)

You are arguing from ignorance and prejudice, willfully continued.

It is not me “imagining”, I write from years of experience and observation and analysis and consideration in detail of a wide range of alternative explanations against vast sets of evidence. The probabilities I use are firmly based in evidence (not in words translated multiple times that were not even written down in the original language they were spoken in, but only in a foreign language a generation later).

[Followed by 21 May 21]

What I have seen is variability at the level of the individual. Always. No two anythings are ever exactly the same if you look closely enough. They can be very similar, but that isn’t the same thing.

What I can imagine is that given some mechanism for isolation between two populations (like two islands), and sufficiently different conditions in those environments for long enough, then the two populations would, over a long enough time, become sufficiently different (as a result of different variations surviving better in the different conditions) that when they did get back together, that they would no longer interbreed in practice.

We can see that with lions and tigers right now. They are perfectly capable of interbreeding (the offspring are fertile, like most dog breeds), but in practice they do not, so we recognise them as two different species.

If you take the time to understand quantum mechanics, and chemistry, and you see how DNA and RNA actually work inside cells, then the evidence is in fact overwhelming.

I know of nobody who has actually done that work who does not accept the reality of evolution. Only the ignorant like yourself who have no interest in doing the work, and prefer the arrogance of righteous ignorance to hard work.

[Followed by 21 May 21 “And I just asked you to stop confusing adaptation within the Kind as meaning one Kind can become another Kind.”]

Is a lion a different kind from a tiger?

[Followed by 21 May 21 …”Can horses produce offspring with zebras… yes they are the same kind. (But not with elephants)”…]

So if this is your definition of kind, why do lions and tigers look so different, yet you say they are the same kind?

What mechanism accounts for that difference within the kind?

[Followed by 21 May 21 “There are several possible “mechanisms”
The point is: “micro evolution” (variations within the same kind) is science the rest is speculation”]

So now you accept that evolution can change a coyote to a wolf and a wolf to a dog. It can change a cat into a lynx or a lion or a tiger, it can change a donkey to a horse or a zebra; but those are all allowed because they are the same kinds, and those changes happened relatively recently (the last few million years). But the changes that clearly happened further back in time, that produced all the difference in what you now call “kinds”, those changes couldn’t possibly have happened because that was too long ago.

Is that now your argument?

And, by the way, there are vast volumes of genetic evidence for those changes having happened in the deep past, and for the probable sequences in which they happened; and it is complex, with many different sorts of changes, Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms, insertions, deletions, transpositions, etc; so one has to use probabilities over large samples to build reliable pictures.

Your argument is without basis in reality.

Evolution is real.

The evidence for it is beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt for anyone actually prepared to look.

Accept it.

If you want to say something about it, then actually examine the evidence, don’t just speak from ignorance.

[Followed by 21 May 21 “Cats are not related to dogs, that is common sense.
Evolution is a lie”]

Cats are related to dogs in exactly the same way as wolves are related to dogs, just further back in time.

Evolution is a fact.

Open your eyes and your mind.

There are many valuable lessons in the bible, but the creation myths are not among them.

[Followed by 22/May/21]

Breeding is a form of evolution where humans are the dominant selection pressure, not the vagaries of the natural environment.

Yes there are 3 building blocks in a sense, protons, neutrons and electrons, and in the initial life of the universe it seems that there was 3/4 hydrogen, 1/4 helium, and tiny traces of lithium and deuterium. The heavier elements we see on earth (that we are all life depend upon) were made in the explosions of the earlier generations of stars. It seems very likely that the matter that our solar system condensed from was made from the explosions of at least two different classes of stars. So there was a kind of evolution of matter, from simple to more complex atoms, long before life could begin or the Earth could form.

As to limits on the combinations of things, well, kind of, but not really. Any molecule that can form chains with variance can be thought of as a numeric system. Modern computers encode all numbers as binary, we use decimal. Ten in binary is 1010, (18 + 04 + 12 + 01) in decimal 10 (110 + 01).

Molecules like RNA and DNA have 4 different possible constituents, so as they get longer, the possible variations on sequence increase by a factor of 4 with each step. We have over a billion nucleotides in our genome (closer to 3 billion) which is like a number with over a billion zeros. So while technically, yes, it is limited in its potential to encode variability, it is a number so vast that is exceeds the number of quantum states that have existed in the 14 billion years that the universe has existed by a factor of a 1 with a billion zeros after it. It is a number beyond the power of any computational entity to form a useful model of – it is just too vast.

In describing the breeding of the Chinook from Mastiff cross with Husky you are describing one of the many mechanisms that can produce variation in evolution.

Evolution happens, is happening, every day, all around us. For the most part it is a slow process, and it only becomes obvious when you take snapshots millions of years apart (not a hundred years).

Mutations happen every day, between every parent and every child. They are a tiny part of the total sources of variation, and they are there; as a tiny part of what makes us each different.

[23 May 21 – Steven White linked to https://www.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/article/150302-black-hole-blast-biggest-science-galaxies-space%5D

That is a magazine article, not a scientific paper, and there are many ways in which such a report is likely to contain errors.

Evidence from EGS-zs8-1 indicates galactic collision 30 million years older than A1689-zD1 – so while unusual, that report 6 years ago is not actually beyond the existing models of understanding, and in no way supports your assertion that all elements existed from the start.

You are an ignorant science denier who has the arrogance to prefer belief in an ancient story over modern evidence.

You need to work on your humility.

[Different thread Followed by 22/May/21]

100 years is not long term in terms of evolution.

In terms of evolution a million years is short term, with 50 million years being medium term. Long term is over 100 million years.

All you are demonstrating is your unwillingness to actually do the work to begin to appreciate what is known about biology and evolution.

It is clear that you would much rather be “right” about a particular story from the past, than take the time required to build sufficient knowledge of mathematics, physics, cosmology, chemistry and biology to begin to build a useful understanding of what biological evolution actually is.

That is understandable in a couple of senses.

In a practical sense most people simply have neither the time nor interest in doing the work to build such an understanding. It is hard work, and takes a lot of time.

The evolutionary pressure to produce brains that are strongly biased to prefer simple certainty rather than to dwell eternally in complex uncertainty are well documented.

So the fact that you are so certain, while also being almost entirely ignorant of the things to which I refer, is not unexpected.

There is a very real sense in which it works for you.

Just as my wife has no real idea of how a car works, yet she can drive one quite well. But if anything breaks, then I need to go out, do the investigation, see what has failed, and determine if it is within my skill set to fix, or I need to hand it over to a specialist.

You seem to be somewhat similar, in that you are perfectly capable of living your life, and doing whatever it is you do, but have no real idea of what is actually going on “under the hood”.

The difference is, that my wife is happy to admit her ignorance, and you are not.

[Followed by reply to Steven White 23 May 2021]

Again, you demonstrate a failure to be able to deal with large numbers, particularly large numbers in relation to time, and a tendency to over simplify complexity.

You make the false claim “every single fossil of every single creature found remains the same for every fossil found of that creature”, and yet I suspect you have never actually looked in detail at any set of fossils. Had you done so you would have observed that every fossil is different, and most have sets of similarities.

There are strong evolutionary reasons why most brains are heavily biased to see simplicity and regularity; to over simplify reality. Most of the time it works in practice in most common contexts.

Variation in kind, in different contexts, over long enough times (and it takes millions of years, not hundreds) does in fact lead to differences in kinds. That was Darwin’s great insight. The details of the process are far more complex that Darwin imagined, he had no knowledge of quantum chemistry or DNA or the large classes of chemistries and systems that make modern life possible. You don’t either. So you have an arrogance and a certainty based in ignorance. You have no interest in doing the work to look in detail, so you assume your simple models are useful at the level of someone who has done the detailed work.

You are wrong in making that assumption.

In a sense, I can see how your belief structure serves you; it is useful in a set of contexts; but understanding the complexity of life is not one of those contexts.

If you are interested in understanding the complexity of life then you need to do the work to understand most of what I have referred to.

If you are not, then you need to stop making statements about which you know little or nothing, and take a more humble and reasonable approach.
Your statement “All emperical data and experiments merely prove this…” demonstrate that you have not done many experiments nor examined many datasets in detail.

[Followed by 23/May/21]

Another set of ignorant false ravings.

You obviously have no idea about relativity. I doubt you have read a single paper of Einstein’s (I have – most of them).

Again, you attempt to use pseudoscience to invalidate real science.

I have plenty of fossils at my house, one a small part of a plesiosaur (that certainly has changed – been none of them around for 65 million years).

But clearly you are not interested in evidence – just in dogma.

[24 May 21 – end of this thread]

I give up.

You appear either to be so capable of lying to yourself subconsciously that you can’t consciously see it, or capable of outright conscious lies for effect.

No point in further conversation in the face of such dishonesty.

You repeat outrageous and false claims in respect of the fossil record, and have now started in respect of the GPS system (the best man at my first wedding is responsible for much of the coding of some GPS systems – so I am not entirely ignorant of what actually happens there – and it is seriously complex).

[26 May 2021 – final comment to another rant]

If you understood anything about relativity, you would know that time dilation effects only happen in reference frames that are moving with respect to each other. Us and the radio isotopes are in the same reference frame. Thus there can be no time dilation effects due to relativistic factors.

You are clearly ignorant of science, clearly willfully so, but happy to claim otherwise. You are clearly trying to grasp at any straws whatever to support dogma that is without foundation in evidence.

You clearly, willfully, ignore any evidence that is in conflict with your dogma, or lie about it.

No point in responding to any further rants on your part.

I doubt very much if you have ever examined any fossils.

As I sit writing this I can see a significant collection of them that my wife and I have collected over the years (most of which are nothing like anything alive today). But things like that have no influence on you writing the untruths that you do.

Posted in Nature, understanding | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

If 99.999% of the population disappears and you’re one of the few lucky ones left around, what’s the first thing that you do?

If 99.999% of the population disappears and you’re one of the few lucky ones left around, what’s the first thing that you do?

[ 19/May/21 ]

That’s one in 100,000. There are 4,000 people in my district – so I’ll be the only person within an hour and a half’s drive in any direction. Likely to get lonely and hungry quite quickly. Would be a fair amount of grief at the loss of all the people I meet on a regular basis. Might be 5 people within four hours drive. So all infrastructure is likely to start to fail quite quickly – power, water, sewerage. No more fuel for vehicles, only what I could scavenge.

It would be calamity at an almost unimaginable scale – essentially back to stone age very quickly.

Things would get very basic very quickly.

I’d be inclined to start investigating and working to remove whatever agent caused that destruction, while I could still scavenge sufficient technology to have a reasonable chance of doing so.

Posted in Ideas | Tagged , | Leave a comment

What is humanity’s biggest problem?

[ 19/May/21 ]

A strong bias to over simplify complexity and assume that reality is simple enough to be understood with absolute certainty. It is a kind of subconscious hubris that takes a lot of work to distinguish and overcome, and most would rather be “Right” than admit of the possibility of uncertainty.

Such simplification can be useful when time is short and action is required for survival, but many of the systems present today are of an order of complexity that takes years of study to arrive at useful simplifications, with useful understandings of the limits of the utility of those simplifications. Most would rather be right about some simple dogma than even admit of the possibility of such profound uncertainty.

That deep subconscious drive for simplicity and certainty is leading us into profoundly dangerous territory.

Our survival is actually predicated on accepting that diversity is a necessary consequence of freedom, and needs to be respected as such if it is not actually a significant threat to anyone.

We also need to be able to consider that many of the simplifications that worked for our ancestors fail in the sorts of technological and social complexity that we now live in. The very ideas of money and markets value are two examples of such systemic failure in changing context – and that is a deeply complex subject.

If we are to survive as a species, then we must accept that the existence of all levels of complexity are predicated on levels of cooperation; and that any level of competition that does not have a firm cooperative base is destructive of both freedom and complexity.

We need to accept that all levels of freedom necessarily come with levels of responsibility if they are to survive in reality. That is necessarily true at every level, even as it also appears to be that case that the limits of such responsibility contain fundamental uncertainties.

So our greatest danger is that the deep subconscious attraction of simple certainty that served our ancestors reasonably well will cause over simplification and systemic failure in the complexity that now exists.

Every person claiming any significant degree of freedom needs to be able to accept this reality – and currently many do not.

Posted in Ideas, understanding | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Is there any possibility that a small group of humans have lived on Earth for billions of years?

Is there any possibility that a small group of humans have lived on Earth for billions of years?

[ 17/May/21 ]

No.

Hundreds of thousands, maybe – just. Billions not a chance – is just against all the genetic evidence sets that we have currently – unless someone with a really warped sense of humour created this planet in the relatively recent past – which seems highly improbable – with all due respect to Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams.

Posted in Ideas | Tagged | Leave a comment

Do you have a solution for a current world problem? How would it solve it?

Do you have a solution for a current world problem? How would it solve it?

[ 17/May/21 ]

There is no singular world problem, there will likely always be a myriad of problems to solve; and there are some major issues that we have now for which solutions are available.

Perhaps the biggest problem is a tendency to over simplify things that are actually complex; which results in looking for singular solutions when a vast array of solutions is actually a much safer approach to trying things out in complex contexts (and every human being is more complex than any human being or AI can predict in detail).

Most problems have vast classes of solutions that are all very close to optimal, any of which will work in practice. Often there is social agreement required to ensure one is used consistently, like driving on one side of the road or the other as a simple example, or what voltage to use in a grid power supply as one with far greater variability possible.

There are several ideas that are commonly accepted as true by many that are actually demonstrably false if one actually does the work to investigate the logic and mathematics behind them, but many of them were close enough to be useful in the contexts of our past, but fail in the context of the present.

All religions, if taken literally as embodied truth (rather than used as guides containing aspects of wisdom distilled from the past that may be applicable to the present) fall into this category.

Also in this category is the idea that evolution is all about competition, whereas the reality is that all new levels of complexity are based on new levels of cooperation. And that gets complex as raw cooperation is always vulnerable to exploitation by cheating strategies, and thus requires evolving ecosystems of cheat detection and removal systems if it is to survive (at their best, our legal, political and ethical systems fulfill this role at various levels, and at their worst each can be captured by cheating strategies, again at various levels).

Another idea in this category is the idea that market competition is the friend of liberty. The reality is that competition that is not firmly built on a cooperative base is always destructive of both liberty and complexity.

Another idea is that liberty is a paramount value. But liberty must be second to life itself, and this necessarily imposes limits and responsibilities on liberty, as all form has boundaries required for its existence, and humans are very complex, and we have many sets of boundaries that must be respected if we are to survive. Thus any form of liberty that does not acknowledge multiple levels of responsibility (including social and ecological) is necessarily destructive. So liberty is critical to any real form of self expression, but all such liberty demands responsibility – to the best of our limited and fallible abilities.

Another idea is that all problems have market solutions. This is not actually true. Markets (which measure exchange value) only deliver reasonable approximations to human values more generally when most things are in fact genuinely scarce. When fully automated systems allow for the delivery of abundance to all, then market incentives and human values diverge and as the potential for abundance increases, the fraction of the population for which markets deliver a reasonable outcome decreases. Market based economics is already delivering greater threat than utility for the majority of the population of the planet.

We need to change systems. Some sort of universal income is probably a necessary part of a transition strategy to take us to something more stable, and that is probably going to be an extremely complex process. One of the hard things for many to accept is that when dealing with complex systems one needs both diversity and redundancy in order to achieve any reasonable degrees of security.

Any real responsible expression of freedom results in diversity.

Anyone claiming freedom must accept and respect diversity (all levels).

Stability can only exist when there is genuine cooperation between all levels and instances of agents. And all must accept that cooperation is very different from control.

With cooperation, respect and responsibility, we can develop effective mitigation strategies and technologies for any threat or problem.

Posted in Our Future, Technology, understanding | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How would everyone need to live to only use the resources replaceable in 1 year?

How would everyone need to live to only use the resources replaceable in 1 year?

[ 16/May/21 ]

Within sustainable budgets for energy and materials.

Exactly what such a budget would look like depends very much on the environment and the technologies employed.

If you can live as a vegan you need about 1/10th the land that a meat eater requires to grow food (I have been vegan for 11 years now). The less diverse the diet the lower the requirement for land.

How much energy one requires depend very much on the the environment in which you live, the technologies you wish to employ, and what seems sufficient to you.

There is nothing simple about doing such calculations, as even something as simple as a pencil requires an amazing amount of cooperative complexity to produce it. And as fully automated systems come onstream we should be able to produce systems that fully automate the production of all the goods and services that most people reasonably require, and that is some seriously complex software and hardware, and will take time to develop, and will need to be deployed at scale with multiple levels of redundancy for security. And all that is doable.

So it is entirely possible for everyone on the planet to live in a lifestyle that over 95% of those in the most developed nations would consider reasonable and sufficient. And that does require some major changes to how we do things now – full recycling of all materials, design of goods for longevity rather than throw away or planned obsolescence etc.

And some things it makes no sense to replace in a year.

A well designed dwelling should be able to last for centuries (even millennia) with reasonably minimal maintenance.

And all such things are contrary to the notions of capital and profit, as profit requires constant activity and constant turnover. So there is now, in the presence of the possibility of fully automated systems, a complete conflict between the incentives of markets and capital and the reasonable needs of the vast majority of people. And that is a deeply complex issue because currently many of the systems essential for our survival are deeply embedded in the current economic system – so transition is not a trivial problem, and it is one that needs to be addressed with some urgency. Contrary to popular dogma the use of markets to measure value is now one of the greatest threats present to both life and liberty; and that was not generally the case in the past, and it is so now – the presence of fully automated systems does in fact have such a profound impact.

Posted in Our Future | Tagged , | Leave a comment

What would the world be better off without intergovernmental organization like the UN since countries have too many conflicts and fights and it is part of man’s nature like their ancestors and there will never be peace between many countries?

What would the world be better off without intergovernmental organization like the UN since countries have too many conflicts and fights and it is part of man’s nature like their ancestors and there will never be peace between many countries?

[ 16/May/21 ]

Definitely not.

And it is complex.

All human organisations are populated by real people with all the faults and foibles and biases that real people have, so there will always be multiple levels of potential issues present in any organisation – that is a given.

We need to accept the strategic reality, well proven in evolutionary biology, that all levels of complexity are predicated on new levels of cooperation; and it is not simple cooperation but something deeply more complex.

To survive, to resist invasion by various levels of destructive cheating strategies, every level of cooperation requires evolving ecosystems of cheat detection and mitigation systems. And that gets deeply complex very quickly (at higher levels think legal, political and ethical systems).

Cooperation is required to build families, communities, corporations and nations; and with the levels of technology now available cooperation between nations is required for survival.

And one needs to be clear that cooperation is not control.

Cooperation at higher levels demands a respect for any and every level and instance of diversity that is not actually a significant threat to the existence of life or liberty.

And when considering liberty in this context, it must be liberty responsibly expressed. Any form of liberty that does not acknowledge that there are real boundaries required for the existence of every level of complexity is in fact a threat to the survival of that level of complexity. So while liberty is an essential aspect of being human, it has to involve responsibility or it is a direct existential level threat.

The more levels of complexity and awareness that exist, the more complex the issues become.

It seems entirely possible that there are infinite possible systems of organisation that meet the fundamental requirements of accepting and respecting diversity, and having multiple sets of instances of such organisation expressed as some form of nationhood and cooperating for mutual security through some sort of organisation like the UN is a necessary evolution if we are to survive our technological capacity for destruction.

And such an organisation cannot be used to impose any sort of hegemony, it has to be responsible for ensuring cooperation between diversity; and the right for any diverse expressions of possibility, that meet the tests of responsibility towards diversity, to exist.

All complex systems must be based in cooperation if they are to survive long term – the logic of that is inescapable.

All out competition is not survivable.

All out competition with the technological tools generally available is not survivable.

Cooperation is the only game in town that actually has any significant probability of survival.

And once there is a cooperative base that respects the rights of all other responsible agents to express their freedom in whatever way they responsibly choose; then we can build whatever level of competition we like on top of that; and safely enjoy it. But without such a base, the probability of survival is very low (approaching zero).

So it is not about UN control, or US hegemony; it is about the ability of complex diversity to survive in practice.

It is deeply more complex than this small post, and it is a subject that has fascinated me for over 50 years.

Yes, human beings can fight if the context demands it, and we can also be the most cooperative entities on the planet if the context allows it. We have both natures within us. And such supremacy as we have is the result of our ability to cooperate through time, far more than any ability to compete.

Posted in Ideas, Our Future, Politics, understanding | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Reply to comment by Mike Langfield on Evolution

Reply to comment by Mike Langfield on Evolution

[ 15/May/21 ]

As others have noted – the claims are wrong.

1/ Sudden emergence of complexity is what is expected in a sense. Events that allow for new levels of complexity to emerge tend to be rather rare, and they do seem to have happened from time to time.
Things getting fossilized is actually rather rare. Most things that die are either eaten by something else or decompose. Dying then fossilizing is not common. So gaps happen.

2/ Missing intermediate forms. Part of that is given by the above relative rarity of fossils. Another part is given by the tendency to dismiss such intermediate forms as are found. That has happened several times during my life.

3/ Mass extinctions open new niches. Often there are forms that are very close to optimal for such niches, and those forms are selected for again. That is what one expects. And sometimes there are events that send populations down different paths, and we see something new.

4/ Stasis of body forms. Just not true. Precambrian we see only bacteria and very simple stuff. After that, lots more large complex things. Pre KT boundary lots of dinosaurs, post it none.
Lots of changes of forms in the fossil record.

5/ Out of order fossil – NO! Nothing ever found.

6/ Burgess Shale – not an issue. It is a soft sediment post Cambrian fossil bed, The fine soft sediment makes preservation of fine detail possible.

7/ Cambrian explosion of large forms. Had to happen sometime. No real surprise that it happened then.

8/ All fossilized organism types apart from a handful remain alive today. Not true. Absolutely false.

9/ Carbon 14 is usually formed in the atmosphere by cosmic radiation, but can be formed by any radiation source, including those buried underground. So finding the occasional Carbon 14 atom underground is to be expected – but not very many of them.

So every claim made is either false or irrelevant and simply demonstrates ignorance.

None of them is an argument against evolution.

Posted in Ideas, Nature, understanding | Tagged , , | Leave a comment