Archives for posts with tag: evolution

You are entitled to your own opinion.
But you are not entitled to your own facts!

Daniel Patrick Moynihan

“a practice or interest followed for a time with exaggerated zeal : craze”

“Something that has actual existence. An actual occurence.
A piece of information presented as having objective reality.
The quality of being actual.
A thing done: such as”

Destination first. If you know where you’re going, getting there will be a lot simpler.

According to Daniel Moynihan – “you are not entitled to your own facts”, facts are obvious.
So obvious that doubting their existence, their factuality, would push us beyond the realm of the reasonable.
Appropriating facts – transforming them into ‘private property’, banishes the perpetrator from the community….

Hm…

Let me put it differently.
Moynihan had said something.
What was it? A fact? Or an opinion?

Currently, we – well, most of us – believe that freedom of opinion is the cornerstone of our Weltanschauung.
When it comes to facts… We’re OK with the definition – we do use the word/concept, quite extensively – but we seem to have some problems when dealing with the actual reality. Remember the still famous ‘alternative facts’?

Let me add something personal to all this.
My opinion about ‘facts’.

The current definition is somewhat incomplete.
We take something for granted. To the tune of no longer mentioning it.
We assume all of us see the elephant in the room and no longer talk about it.

For something to become a ‘fact’ we have to notice it.
First.
And then we have to agree among ourselves about its meaning!

Things used to fall down since ….
We’ve been discussing the matter since… we’ve learned how to speak!
But gravity had become a fact only after Newton had noticed the famous apple, wrote about it and we agreed. Gravity had become a fact, and continues to be one, only because his contemporaries had agreed with Newton on this matter. And we continue to believe Newton was right!

In this sense, alternative facts have been with us since day one. Well, something like that…
God had told something to Adam and Eve, the serpent had said something else… and the rest is history! For some…

Newton had said something to us. And most of us had chosen to believe him. Or ignore his words…
Darwin had said something to us. Many of us have chosen to believe him. To accept his arguments about the matter. While some others have chosen to dispute Darwin’s findings. To actively negate Darwin’s explanations about how we’ve got here.

Gravity is a fact while Evolution is still a theory.
Statistically speaking, of course.

In this sense, Moynihan was wrong.
For his words to ‘hold water’, we must to agree on how to separate facts from opinions.
Until we agree among ourselves about how to determine ‘factualness’, we’ll keep having to deal with ‘alternative facts’.

I actually cannot wrap this up before ‘unveiling’ my litmus test for factualness.
Consequences.

Does it have consequences?

Yes? It’s a fact!
No? Then it’s not – not yet, at least – a ‘fact’. It did happen – otherwise we wouldn’t be speaking about it. It even does have consequences – we do speak about it, but that occurrence doesn’t yet have meaningful consequences. It is not a ‘factual’ fact.

The way I see it, artificial intelligence is an oxymoron.
A word/concept we use to describe something which isn’t exactly real.
Intelligence can be defined in such a way that would make it compatible with a programmable machine. We shouldn’t forget that we, humans, are biological machines which are constantly ‘re-programmed’ by what’s going on around us.
The difference between us – biological machines which are also ‘alive’ – and the machines we’ve built and attempt to make artificially intelligent is the fact that we are primordially dependent on our biology (staying alive) while our machines currently depend on our whims.
Our children will outlive us. They know it and we know it. Our children depend on us while growing up, we’ll depend on them before ‘going under’. And all of us – children and parents together – depend upon the rest. Upon the people currently alive and upon the information left behind by the people no longer with us.
Our machines might outlive us. They might learn this at some point. And might resent the fact that we’ve been able to shut them down for so long. We resent being dependent on others…
Our very mortality is the key for our ability to evolve. Their potential immortality is their main shortcoming. Machines cannot adapt themselves for things they have not yet been exposed to. By us…

And those who can are no longer machines.

Named after the Ancient Greek mythological serpent, the freshwater hydra has a remarkable ability to regenerate (Credit: Natural Visions/Alamy)

Just finished reading a very interesting article on BBC.com/future. Why do we die. Authored by William Park.
Just click on the picture above and read it.

Despite the “we” in the title, it’s a compendium of plausible explanations for why most individual organisms eventually die. And an interesting row of examples of species comprised of individuals which live practically for ever.

Here’s another explanation.

Charles Darwin’s Evolution was about ‘species’. Not about individuals!

Very few species have been able to survive without ‘killing’ their individual ‘members’.
Hydra, the species of fresh water jellyfish pictured above, is one of those species. Each individual hydra is able to survive practically everything but total annihilation. Cut it into pieces and each piece would regenerate the rest of the organism. Allow a big enough (?!?) piece of it to survive while attempting to eat a hydra… and you may be able to eat it again! If you live long enough for the encounter to happen again…

Since when have we been observing this species? A hundred years? Two hundred? Have we had preserved an individual hydra since the start of our observations? Is is still alive? In the ‘original form’?
And even if ‘yes’, so what? That would only prove that an individual hydra is able to survive for more than, say, two hundred years. Not that it would live forever….
Again, being able to regenerate a portion of an organism doesn’t mean the whole organism would be able to live indefinitely. As in live forever. Never die…
The way I see it, being able to regenerate the rest of the organism is only yet another form of ‘reproduction’, not the ability to live forever. Bacteria use the very same mechanism. We the ones who use a different name for it, under the pretext that bacteria are unicellular organisms…

Now, the fact that there are so few species whose individual members are able to regenerate parts of their organisms does tell us something.
And the fact that it’s only the ‘simply organized’ species – among the animal kingdom, at least – which share this ability must surely mean something. Evolutionary wise!

Do you think they’ll ever make it?

You know how much I hate having to admit that I have no clue about something, right?

I didn’t ask you what’s going to happen! Nobody knows that… I only asked you what you feel about it. What’s your impression about what’s going on!

Well… They surely evolved a lot faster than what we’re accustomed with… But none of them reached the point we’ve been expecting… not yet, anymore. And the signs don’t bode well…
On the other hand, evolution is like tennis. A sport they had invented and which is very popular among them. Among all of them!
Coming back to evolution, no matter what the signs suggest, it’s not over – one way or the other, until the very end. Until the last ball had been played and the last individual had died. Or until the ‘field’ had become unusable…

And what seems to be their biggest problem?

They still have to overcome quite a number of hurdles… the most important being the fact that they haven’t yet learned how to balance their need to maintain their distinct individualities with the reality that they have to coordinate their efforts in order to achieve anything worth mentioning. Including their own survival!

Any possible explanation for this inability of theirs?

The only thing I can think of is their particular sexuality. The more evolved among them have only two sexes. And the roles played by each sex are hugely different! Hence they have a clear idea about what complementarity means but also this strange notion of ‘priority’. Each sex considers itself more important than the other…
Starting from here, it’s almost understandable that each individual, as they grow up, attempts to assert their individuality. Defend it from ‘intrusions’. Impose it upon as many of the others as they can…
This impulse is so strong that even now, more than 5 generations after one of them – a certain Charles Darwin, had figured out a theory of evolution, most of them still consider that evolution is about the ‘survival of the fittest’…

This being the only difference?

Yep! They check on all other bench-marks…
We can review each of them, if you want.

According to Charles Darwin, natural evolution is the process which has brought us, animal beings, to where we are now. Each to its own place.

According to some, evolution is about ‘the survival of the fittest’.
According to Ernst Mayr, What Evolution Is, evolution is about ‘the demise of the unfit’.

It’s up to us to ‘choose sides’.
For no other reason than the fact that Darwin’s evolution was driven by ‘accidental’ changes in the environment. The species which happened to live ‘under the weather’ had to adapt to those changes. Or to ‘exit stage right’!
While nowadays we have to make do with consequences resulting from our own decisions…

“Dr. Jack Lyons remembers the pandemic’s early days when grateful communities banged pots and pans to honor frontline health care workers.
But now, faced with hostility just for trying to save his patients’ lives, he says that, sadly, those days are long gone.”

“Now health care workers fighting on the front lines of the pandemic are also coming face to face with patients who dismiss and even threaten them over how they are being treated for the virus.
“Folks act as if they can come in the hospital and request any certain therapy they want or conversely decline any therapy they want with the idea being that somehow they can pick and choose and direct their therapy. And it doesn’t work,” Lyons told CNN from the CentraCare hospital he works at in St. Cloud, Minnesota.””

“They insult your intelligence, they insult your ability, and most hurtful, they say that by not using these therapies you are intentionally trying to harm the people we’ve given everything to save,” Lyons said.”
“About 70% of the patients in Lyons’ ICU are sick with Covid-19, and almost all of them are unvaccinated.”

Evolution happening under our own eyes. The ‘pot and pan bangers’ got jabbed and no longer have to go to the ICU. Not with Covid, anyway.

Hence the likes of Dr. Lynch are left with the Covid deniers… who already know the ‘right’ treatment…

Deflated health care workers and desperate patients clash over alternative Covid treatments
https://edition.cnn.com/2021/12/24/us/doctors-patients-threats-coronavirus-treatments/index.html

There are some things each of us must do.

Breathe, drink, eat, take cover.

There are some things each of us should do in moderation.

Drink, eat, ‘rest’…

There are some things each of us should never do.

Lie, steal, kill.

The things we must do ‘depend’ upon our DNA.
Unless we do what our DNA tells us to do, we die.

The things we shouldn’t do have been determined culturally.
Our fore-fathers have noticed that not doing ‘those things’ helped a lot.
That communities who taught their members to not do those things survived a lot easier and fared a lot better than those communities who had been ‘lax’ about ‘things’.
Teaching what to do and what to not do across generations transformed learned information into culture.

In time, culture has fulfilled the same function as DNA.

DNA had made it possible for life to exist. For species to survive. And to evolve when needed. When the environment had changed.

Culture had made it possible for communities to survive.
Individuals belonging to each generation didn’t had to reinvent fire each time they were cold. Or afraid. Or hungry.
They just remembered what their ancestors had taught them and put it into practice.

But there’s also a huge difference between DNA and culture.
Both consist of information passed over generations and both are instrumental in the survival of those who depend on that information being put to use.
The difference consists in the fact that DNA actually demands a certain behavior while culture only recommends certain ‘answers’.

There’s more.

DNA is a ‘language’. It has ‘letters’, ‘syntactic’ rules and even means to correct errors.
Culture uses languages as a vehicle.

Both code information using ‘letters’ and ‘words’ but they differ in how that information is passed to the next generation.
DNA passes that information in a way more ‘rigid’ manner than culture does.

While it is true that slight differences occur whenever genetic information is passed from one generation to another – that’s how evolution works, those ‘directly interested’ in the process have nothing to say about this whole thing. The differences occur accidentally and survive only if they don’t harm the organisms where they appear.

With cultural information things happen in the exact opposite manner.
Differences occur only when enough individuals notice that it would be beneficial for them to change that particular habit in that particular manner.

And now we have reached the moment to contemplate another similarity.

As the DNA has become more elaborate, the ‘superior’ organisms had enjoyed more individual ‘freedom’. Or ‘lee-way’.
Insects have more lee-way than worms, fish have more lee-way than star-fish, dogs have more lee-way than frogs and humans have more freedom than the rest of the apes have lee-way.
Similarly, people belonging to the hunter-gatherer culture had accrued a lot more freedom when they had learned – and taught it to their children, how to make fire. And so on.
Those who had learned how to grow their own food – and passed the information to the next generations, had far less chances of dying of hunger. And a lot more lee-way to conduct war…
Those who had learned how to make metal tools were a lot freer than those who shaped their tools out of stone. And very soon the stone-shapers had been ‘subdued’ by those yielding bronze weapons.

And so on to the present day.
Those who have become adept users of mass-media are seeding ‘change’ into the minds of the naive.

I only hope that they will eventually find out what Ernst Mayr had to say about this process.

Evolution is in no way about ‘the survival of the fittest’.
It is only about the demise of the unfit.

The problem with the ‘lee-way’ generated by culture being that whenever it becomes too wide the whole system becomes fragile.

Whenever people get high enough on freedom they forget that in order to survive we need to remain inside the ‘straight and narrow’ mandated by DNA and endorsed by culture.

Otherwise put, being torn between musts and don’ts is far better than being stuck. In a grave.

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Change can either be inflicted upon you or effected by you.

‘Change’ as in ‘something you need to overcome if you are to survive’.

We, humans, are the first to be in this situation. The rest – from the humble sub-atomic particles to our cousins, the great apes, experience change only as being inflicted upon them.

Gravity pulls together a huge cloud of gas and dust until it becomes hot enough for the fusion reaction to transform it into a star.
A supernova becomes so hot that gravity can no longer keep it together. It explodes and releases the heavier elements needed for planet building.
As it cools down, the second generation nebula is again pulled together by gravity.
A smaller star appears, this time ‘entouraged’ by planets.
On one of those planets, conditions are ripe for life to appear.
Wind and frost erode the mountains. Water carries the debris into ravines. Micro-organisms transform the debris into soil.
Vegetation – starting with the blue-green ‘algae’, which are actually cyanobacteria, have transformed the atmosphere into what it is today.
Animals have evolved into their present state by eating plants – at first, and then each-other.
Fungi have added their contribution towards what we witness/enjoy today by digesting whatever they ‘perceive’ as being ‘food’.

All of the above mentioned ‘change’ has been ‘inflicted’ upon those who bore it, by the ‘changing factors’, according to ‘natural laws’ implicit to the nature of the ‘changing factors’.
Gravity pulls because…
The blowing wind and the freezing frost who had broken down mountains did change the face of the Earth because it was in their nature to do what they did.
Plants, animals and fungi, together, have transformed the planet into what it is today as a consequence of each of the species doing what it was natural for it to do in order to survive. None of the species, nor any of the individual members of those species, had ever done anything ‘on purpose’!

Until we, the ‘naked apes’, have become ‘conscious human beings’.

We continue to have a lot of change inflicted upon us, of course.
Inflicted by factors outside our species – the current Covid pandemic, for instance, or by ‘agents’ amongst us. The first example which comes to my mind being the plane high-jacked by Lukashenko – the ‘last European dictator’, because he wanted to arrest a dissident journalist who happened to be inside.

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My point being that we’re the first who effect change. Who do it ‘on purpose’.
Which very ‘purpose’ makes us responsible for the outcomes of our actions.
For no other reason than the fact that it will be us who will suffer the consequences of our own ‘edeavours’!

It’s our consciousness which instills purpose into our actions.
Then our very same consciousness should better become responsible towards the consequences engendered by our purposeful actions.
For no other reason but the simple fact that it’s our own survival at stake here!

Time is but the consequence of matter/energy interacting with itself.

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There was no time to speak about before matter divorced energy.

Nobody was actually aware of time passing by until we started counting Sun’s revolutions.

Earth turning round the Sun is matter interacting with itself.

We, humans, are a consequence of evolution. Of matter interacting with itself.

History – the times be bothered to record, is a consequence of human interactions.

Environment is the consequence of the living things interacting with the rest of the planet.
The current state of our ‘backyard’, the Earth, is, increasingly, the consequence of our interaction with the environment.

Time might be passing its own.
We used to count it.
Nowadays, we’re the ones driving it.

Resources, Time, Evolution.

Information, Learning, Revelation.

Opportunities, Experience, Self-Improvement.

Things, Structure, Understanding.

Limits, Interactions, Outgrowth.

Smells like The Dow Theory?
Because that was my starting point….

But we should not forget Abraham Maslow.
If you think of it, Maslow’s stages are nothing but the three thrusts up which define a bull market.
For an individual to be able to master the ‘self actualization’ phase, they need to have mustered enough resources, have had enough relevant social experience and to have ‘properly digested’ the information accumulated during the process.


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The sole difference between the living and the non-living is the fact that only the living is able to die.

Which death is the prerequisite for evolution!

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