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brachiosteve

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Everything posted by brachiosteve

  1. “New study, re-writes evolution.” How (or) would YOU present a highly technical, specialist article to the general populous? Your editor (who pays you) has deadlines and targets for time, costs, readership and competing rivals’ articles. This blog is in response to (yet) another article which supposedly re-writes the theory of (in this case, shark) evolution. It tries to highlight the problem of and reasons for such article headings, looks at and compares the results of changing them from the origi8nal and asks what, if anything, can or should be done given the circumstances. I owned a shop once and one customer said that it would be nice if we had wheel chair access toilets. We had wheelchair access and wheelchair access toilets were available very close by in a larger shop. The cost of putting them in was prohibitive too, meaning no such shop to use in the first place, thus defeating the object. By trying to offer more, I (and all) would have lost all. Many of the good quality newspapers are struggling right now with such low readership. On the other hand, the British red tops (which are far more popular and reflect the greater national readership population) do pretty well. I’m sure there is a direct correlation between the quality of journalism and the survivability of the press in the UK. Too few want pure quality. Some may recall the Sunday Sport newspaper post I posted some time ago, demonstrating the level it goes to for readership. And true, those wanting it are the driving force of the editor. Spin, exaggeration, scraping the barrel, lies are things that sell. Few want straight facts. And I believe that goes for many of us, here too. In fact I have posted original research here and had little response, but when posting articles (even) from the same said report, as edited in a more popular or simplified magazine or newspaper with graphics and a fancy tag line, it gets views… It also gets read! And it also gets criticised for exaggeration or a misguided title. But it gets read as opposed to not read. If you want a technical article published in a general, miscellaneous, non-academic daily/weekly/monthly, you have to make very significant changes to attract any interest. Yes, even Time magazine, National Geographic and Nature have succumbed to targeting with overly dramatic images or titles which can play into the hands of science deniers. Look at it from the publisher’s perspective – they have to sell, compete, pay staff and survive. Where does one draw the line? It is a difficult one, when one considers all aspects or places oneself in the position of an editor. How many of us subscribe to the journals which publish original work? Would you digest it, understand the words? If competing with an edition of Punch or Private eye, which do you go for? Are you privileged or rich enough to access these journals? Does or did anyone get psychological tiredness, perhaps at university? When you want to do something you enjoy and it not taxing, you are full of energy and up for it. When it comes to study, you suddenly feel really tired. I did and still do. Youtube is a great help and bridge/gap builder! There is similar discussion in Christian and Muslim circles about Holy books. Some traditionalists argue that only the original language should be used, as it is the word of God and should not be changed. But only those few who know those languages can access it, but it is argued that all should learn it). Or should it be translated into many languages and perhaps simplified or adjusted to, ‘meaning related’ context so that more can understand and access it, at the price of some meaning, clarity or eloquence (this is an aspect of hermeneutics). Here's an article (just made up) showing 4 different views and asking which one or style would YOU read or be attracted to, if any, perhaps if the subject matter interested you (which is another trick that journalists try to widen to get readership)?
  2. Hi Ross. I can't seem to find you on the Facebook group and we seem to have lost contact. Apologies if this is my fault. Please do get back in touch if you can.
  3. Hi Abe. Those are good questions. We had a live book club event on youtube on Saturday with Aron Ra about his book, ‘Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism’. Not sure if you knew or were there. On the first one. I will start by an examples to set the scene. If you take a scan of a foetus in the womb, then a photo of the new born baby and on through the person’s life until s/he dies, you have very different images and stages. A baby, a child, a teenager, an adult, a middle ager and an old person. We give them man-made names that we create for identification purposes, but they are still one, single person throughout. The genetic code is the same, from where we can know this. So whilst a foetus may have little morphological resemblance to the pensioner, we KNOW (can test and prove) that they are one and the same. And a photo of two foetuses or babies or people, no matter how alike they may appear, we can know that they are not the same, by the same (and other) method(s). If we found tree-like structure on another planet that looked identical to an oak tree on earth, then it is possible that it is more similar to a rock or an elephant, because by similarity we mean relatedness. The tree from another planet would actually not even be a part of the, ‘tree of life’, because it has no place in it, just like all the aliens in film and TV, despite their humanoid appearances and they would not be able to interbreed with humans or earth life. The whole genetic (or otherwise) structure would not correspond. And we also know that a dog, a hyena, a coyote, a fox, a wolf and a thylacine are different and why and how different, by the genes, which is really helpful when they look alike. In previous centuries, we did not have genetics, so morphology and physiology were key concepts in deciding classification. So, whilst a baby is different from an adult in many ways, in terms of relatedness or ancestry, they are one and the same. And the biological parents are the last generation and so on. With genealogy, we (think we) can trace our parents back for centuries or more, but technically, we can’t, because if any mother had an affair, or secretly adopted or records got mixed up, we would not have a true ancestry and from the first erroneous parent, all previous ones would be wrong. Evolution does not operate from parent to parent – this would be impossible to keep track. It works on a species or population level. This means that if an offspring is illegitimate or a parent has multiple partners and even if there is some hybridization with a different species, it doesn’t really matter, because we are only concerned with species (or things that can viably interbreed), and that is sufficient. Due to the fossil record and many other factors, we can establish relatedness beyond the limits of genetic sampling. So, it is not really possible to take a genetic sample for things that are millions of years old due to degradation of tissue. This is when morphology, fossil order and other known or determinable factors come into play and confirm (or otherwise) one another. So, how do we know that amphibians evolved from fish and reptiles from amphibians and creatures with internal skeletons from ones that had none? The forms can be traced in the fossil record. Whilst amphibians exist now, when amphibians first emerged, there were no reptiles. We can further trace the skeletal evolution which just so happens to exactly match the geological order. And when we test living amphibian and reptile genetic markers, it matches to that ancestry. We can therefore make predictions that if true, support this concept, and this has been done many times and is counted on when searching for fossils today. Tiktaalic was such a prediction and found what (described morphology) where (geography) and when (geologically) discovered. Now, we are descended from animals that do not have backbones or internal skeletons. These have a term called, ‘invertebrates’. This is a helpful term used to describe that group of animals, but it is not a term used in cladistics because it has no place. Like saying person A is male, person B is female and person C is tall. We can describe people in terms of sex, height, race or interests etc. but you can’t mix it up. So, whilst we are descended from animals that had no backbones (invertebrates) we are not invertebrates, because that mixes terminology. When only invertebrates existed, they were never called invertebrates any more that they were in-circus actors. Invertebrate is a hindsight term used to look back and mention a unifying similarity. They lacked back bones just as much as they lacked the ability to act in a circus (which some people and other animals do today). So, to a circus performer, all other life is an incircus act (invertebrate comparable). In order to talk about ancestry, we need to stick to the correct and same terminology, like for like. So, whilst many scientist will tell you that you are a fish, they are wrong, because a fish is not an actual clade. You are (in increasingly larger key clades, simultaneously) a human (Homo sapien sapien), a hominid, an anthropoid, a prosimian, a primate, a placental, a mammal and so on. So, you can simultaneously live in your house at the same time as your street, village, town, state, country, country, region, continent etc. It’s just a matter of how specific you want to be. To your neighbour, you live at number 45. To a Japanese pen-pal, you start off by saying you live in Europe (or wherever). It’s about perspective. So, as life is all related, we have closer and further removed relatives. We are closer related to other apes than to dogs and further removed from oak trees, but at some point, we are related and shared a common ancestor with everything and with a phylogenetic tree of life, you can find the point at which any two different species split off to form new species. It can be termed the law of monophyly. A true clade is monophyletic, meaning that it is a nested hierarchy containing all and only those species within a point (clade node) of divergence. In 10 million years time, our species may still be here or have died out, but our descendants, however different, will still and always be homo, apes, mammals etc. Our cladistics lineage remains and cannot be altered or5 grown out of. In fact, we evolved from a creature that evolved an anus before it evolved a mouth (where some creatures evolved the other way round). So, it would be phylogenetically true and fair to say, once an arsehole, always an arsehole! Regarding your second point. A clade is basically a speciation event. A species is a very difficult and argued about term which is confusing to science and the world at large, because it is used differently by well informed people. This is a whole lecture on its own. If we assume for arguments’ sake, that a species is a population of related organisms that can interbreed and have departed, genetically or geographically or behaviourally from other close relatives such that they no longer interbreed (even if they are still inter-fertile), then these are examples of speciation and would justify a new species/clade. So note, speciation takes time and is a population (not an individual) event. Search, ‘ring species’ for an example of observable speciation. Note also that one species never gives birth to another species or anything that is hardly any different to itself. This is what evolution predicts (to not do so would defy evolution). Imagine a gradient from red to blue. At any point, it is identical to its neighbour. You have to zoom out and compare distant places to see or notice the difference. I hope this helps. Thanks for your interest. There are many of us who have left fundamentalism and who were conned by Creationism. Do please joint our journey into supporting or providing a visual tree of all life, demonstrating the fact of evolution. Steve
  4. Thanks for update, Victor. Onwards and upwards goes science and learning and change.
  5. Dear Jesse. I am sorry this post has been left for so long. I am not an expert on insects, but I will share my thoughts and suggestions. I think this is a lacewing or related or similar family. It is very typical, including the wings and you might be amazed at the variety of lacewing. Take this one ( taken from the Treknature website gallery. A Thread-winged Lacewing (Nemoptera sinuata) also known as the Spoon-tailed Lacewing from the Lacewing (Neuroptera) family from Turkey. Given the quality and indistinctiveness, e.g. colour, shape, this might lead others to not bother putting the effort in to identify it as there are likely to be many species that fit, especially limited to the image/desription. There are many groups that may be willing or able to help, but if this seems a lot of trouble and you are considering the effort to benwfit, they might also be thinking the csame to locate the species, if that makes sense. And in order to narrow it down yourself, you could start with geographical location, then the colouration, size and shape. If you can then find a local list of species, this cmay help, too. It is always difficult to get a good clear picture of such rerlatively small living things without professional equipment and macro lenses. So, if you do this often orf again, even the addition of a 2 or 3x lens to put over you phone or on a camera (or move out and zoom in with a good high multiplication optical lens) this will help. There are probably mny new species that have been photographed, but do not get recognised or vattributed because of the quality or lack of information, which is a shme, but hopefully, ever better new technology will change this. The Phylogeny Explorer Project will be trying to collate a lot of detail on all species in order to help identify things and allow anyone without expertise to do so with search facilities. Sorry I couldn't be of more help, Jesse.
  6. There are certain customs, arguments or claims which seem to make sense, but you can’t quite put your finger on why or if it is true or false. And they can fool you, like an optical illusion. For me, the ontological argument for God (Anselm’s version) was one. Others include conversion experiences with a one-way (non-returnable) valve, Faith, God knows best, don’t test God, last one in the pool is a rotten egg, go and do X or I won’t be your friend anymore, don’t grass/tell on people (it’s just not done/an unwritten rule), countless logical fallacies, using emotion as a trump card in an argument. There are some things which have a down side but have a balanced up side to make it worthwhile. The early bird catches the worm. Study hard and get a wider choice of job. Have kids and give up on things to see the joy it brings. In fact there was a historical act of Sati (or Suttee), largely practised in India amongst Hindus which also presented (albeit potentially illusory) an upside to the downside, but the reward was in the life hereafter, which was not proven to exist in this life, although believed. This is where a (female – of course!) widow would sacrifice herself on the burning funeral pyre of her deceased husband. I don’t imagine even the nastiest of husband’s would ever be poisoned at dinner by his wife and in fact, his health would seem to be a pretty important part of her life, hoping she dies first. The day your husband dies, especially if he was a good man, would be all the more painful. The only other type of voluntary death, other than suicide, seems to also be amongst religious tradition or extremism. Beyond that, people would put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of others or make a self-sacrifice for the sake of other close relatives or friends. This is altruism. But an extreme form exists within several animal species. Matriphagy. White widow. No greater love. Theodicy. Some animal species make the ultimate sacrifice. This includes (certain) spiders, earwigs, pseudo-scorpions and (vertebrate) caecilians. In some spiders, females produce a liquid from their mouths from pre-digested food and/or eggs to feed their young for a few days. After gaining weight/size, a day after the spiderlings have moulted/shed their first exoskeleton, the mother instinctively goes through a process. She walks around the web, vibrating the thread and releasing new thread, which stimulates the spiderlings into coming to a prominent or central place on the web. The mother then comes and presses against the newly congregated mass of spiderlings who then make her their first victim and (by the process) they collectively and conveniently now have a clear understanding/lesson of how future victims/prey will be recognised and what they should do to entice and subdue it. They all start a frenzy and begin injecting venom into her, which she clearly finds painful and could run away from, but she doesn’t. Within minutes to a couple of hours, all her juices have been sucked out and her life empties into the stomachs of her offspring, leaving a shell. This is not exclusive to mothers. Virgin females will also sacrifice themselves in this way. Males often die soon after mating too or become victim of the mated partner. The spider species involved seem to have larger offspring with faster growth rates and so potentially preventing other options of offspring survival. This seems a horrible (but sadly not that rare a) branch of natural selection, resulting in such horrific (but evolutionarily logical) results and logic. Surely it would have been better for the mothers to have just said, ‘no way’ and died out as a species. I wonder if some form of, ‘coping with the suffering’ evolved too? What an amazing example of a species who’s males and females, mothers and virgin females give their all, solely for the propagation of the species and, seemingly nothing else. Unless someone perhaps knows of a budding arachnid Bach or Renoir, leaving behind a gift for the species to enjoy. I am reminded of other species that suffer because of things like parasites (e.g. eating into your eye and controlling your brain or eating you from the inside out). For those of you who are theists, atheists, moral objectivists, subjectivists, nihilists, free-willers or determinists, it’s not very nice to think about and varyingly easy to explain or justify. Sometimes, the truth hurts, whether you like or accept it or not. There is an extreme (theoretical at least) philosophical view that I have considered since long before I even knew what philosophy meant or was, although I have more recently found it to be a recognised and serious position. If I could press a button and instantly destroy (and make) all life on earth extinct, (without any suffering), I would do it. Even in my theistic life, no-one could convince me that an eternity in heaven could be good, and the everlasting part just made it worse or made me wonder if that was just phase 2 and something else might be planned (by God) for later, still leaving some option open for me having to make a choice or be forced to do something or go somewhere I didn’t want to go. Heaven was always a place I was not convinced that was consistent, unchangingly or perfect, and hell was, whilst bad, at least consistent. I do not mean to be dismissive or speak lightly of this, but these things did plague my mind. To me, heaven was never a motive for becoming or staying a Christian, though hell was a place that put fear in me long after I defected. The reason (for my quite extreme philosophical view) is subjective and I would be forcing my view and action on everyone in the process, therefore removing democracy and other people’s view or preferences. I basically don’t like suffering, for myself or others or anyone or any living thing that suffers or even could suffer (even potentially through evolution over billions of years), so I wanted to take control of the world in order to prevent ANYONE from ever suffering in any way, but particularly suffering heavily, which many will continue to do, even if it may not be YOU personally, but you and I represent everyone, including that person in a horrific state of suffering. To me, it is not a case of taking a chance, hoping I will be lucky. It is the experiential knowledge that many of us do suffer and some, terribly, some randomly and some predictably and no-one expects it for our child when we choose to create life. The worst type of human suffering probably includes torture (physical and emotional) but may not be limited to this. Accident, disease or illness are others. If I consider the most extreme possible example of a child or baby being tortured, (and take an is/ought type of position) then (for me) this cannot justify or be compensated by any amount of good, so cannot justify life in the first place IF such a bad incident could occur, and I suggest it can, has, does and will continue to do so. As no life equates to no pain or suffering or knowledge or a representative that exists to experience such, then not existing is not a bad thing, it just isn’t anything, so we don’t exist to ponder goodness or badness or weigh up the options. Put another way, if a person never existed to start with, s/he will never suffer or experience anything, good or otherwise, so will be none the wiser, can have no regrets or hopes or anything. S/he is in a neutral position. When I say s/he, s/he has never existed in the first place of course, so there is no person or mind to exist and consider or see in hindsight about the options. There are millions of potential sperm that will never see the light of day, have no regrets and (thankfully) never suffered. YOU can only experience and appreciate good things because you exist and are here. And if a 100% suffering-free life were guaranteed, I still see no benefit (perhaps other than a selfish one) to having children, given the option (non-existence). As there is no such mechanism to destroy the earth, certainly without suffering anyway, then I have to constrain my ideology to the life that exists now. From today, anyone alive will be dead in 120 or so years (less or plus any medical advancements in restricting or developing the ageing process). So my current theory is to stop all human pregnancy and so force the extinction of humankind by about 2100-2150, when people will be too old to reproduce anymore and die off naturally. This would be problematic in the detail, e.g. providing for the latter few years with food, medicine, warmth without electricity or gas etc. unless euthanasia options were on hand, which, under the impending circumstances, might have been considered and be available. Sadly, I need universal consensus, the law and no exceptions to implement this, which is unlikely. It also doesn’t stop the suffering and future evolution of the rest of life on earth. So, my theory seems exactly that – theoretical and not very practical. I would also add that I am very lazy and hypocritical. Whilst I have been both a vegetarian and a vegan before, I am currently largely a carnivore, but (theoretically) hold a vegan position, I’m just not committed (yet) to indulge myself. Do as I say, not as I do. Addendum. This may be better placed in the Forums under philosophy, so I may copy it there, too. This is a blog experiment and is for thought consideration. It is entirely theoretical, impossible to come true or be placed in anyone’s hands and it is open to challenge and if at any time the prospect loomed, I am sure I would have second thoughts or want a lot more feedback on the position to assert or reject/override my viewpoint. Further, I have presented the reasons behind it, but would like to add one more which is rather like the philosophical trolley problem. This is what I think I would like to be dealt with if I am to consider my position again: Imagine you were offered a drug to put you in an extremely high sense of pleasure. The condition is that someone will have a similar opposite sense of displeasure or suffering. Would you trade this? Would you trade it for a moderate amount of suffering in someone? Or if the person was a member of your family? Where would one draw the line? There are many selfish people in the world who probably would; probably because they don’t know the suffering person. Which is why I opt to remove democracy from them at least, for the sake of the suffering. It is no less painful for a suffering person, whether it is someone you know or not. It is only our subjective indifference to an anonymous person that drives us to ignore or mitigate their suffering. My position is that (to reflect reality) we should consider ultimate suffering and to the closest of our loved ones, though I go much further and would justify the slightest amount of suffering for the smallest amount of time to even one person as not worth coming into existence, even if life were otherwise virtually perfect. If you were to have the power to create intelligent life, and knew that all types of suffering (including extreme) would be a part of the result, albeit mixed with varying highs, would you go ahead? Try to put yourself in the position of the many who will be less fortunate and suffer, particularly in an extreme way. Few of us experience extremes on either side, but if (and as) we know that many will suffer badly, many being children and babies, is it not selfish and a horrific risk to self AND others, to justify such creation, be it creating life to start with or pro-creating? I have children myself, which makes me selfish and perhaps hypocritical. If we simply prevent further pro-creation, we are not disappointing or failing anyone, because there is no-one that exists to be disappointed (or thankful that they were not brought into existence to potentially suffer). Put in one sentence, would you allow yourself or a member of your family or your own child to suffer horrifically in exchange for others existing and having pleasure? To jump to any other statement (like destroying the world or banning human reproduction) without seriously considering the reasoning and alternative implications is not to understand or do the argument justice. The argument may seem an atheistic one, but for many believers, to have no children is to guarantee that they will not be creating the possibility of another soul going to hell (or heaven), but I appreciate there are other theistic considerations involved here. If a person’s house is destroyed, (say in a storm or fire with all the memories, souvenirs, photos and things of material value) there are feelings and emotions in the minds of existent people who may witness this and be sad at its demise. If there is no intelligent mind or creature (left) in existence (when a house is destroyed), there is no regret or sorrow or happiness. There is neutrality. No pain or suffering or joy or happiness or morality. Just nothing. Without or at the end of existence, suffering ends and no longer exists. No-one exists to experience or miss anything good. This position is undemocratic and if I had the power to press such buttons, this is a one-man dictatorship of the most extreme kind. It will never happen. Remember that I am just theorizing and may have more thinking to do on it. I would probably be better devoting my time/life to convincing people of this. If 12 thugs want to beat a child up and will take tremendous pleasure in it, is this a democratic or utilitarian decision? Would you, if you had the power, subjectively be willing to override their choice/pleasure and prevent this from occurring in order to save one person’s suffering? Democracy is all well and good when it coincides with our view. For me, it is the majority of the world who do not yet comprehend the reality of the suffering problem and how their selfishness allows it, that makes me want to take the control away from them. The world is not as overt as the thugs in the example, but for those innocent people suffering, they don’t care about where the pain comes from, they just want it gone. I think most people are selfish and do not consider the extreme suffering or want to take a chance that it won’t be them or their family. But I am taking the position that everyone is equally valued and the one suffering baby represents each of us or our own child(ren). For you to be selfish and take a chance (like the Covid-19 situation of isolation) affects everyone, not just you. In the virus situation, I believe people should, if need be, be forced into situations, e.g. of isolation (thus violating their human rights) in order to prevent them from potentially infecting others – a greater right. No amount of joy in all the people of the world is more important than (or worth or justifies) the terrible suffering of just one person. I am suggesting that one pain-free solution is to stop pro-creating (as impractical as this is, I’m just arguing theoretically to support my position and reasoning). I am simply arguing that this neutral, not existent position is superior to any world where suffering exists (and/or can’t be guaranteed to stop) and I would be happy to be convinced otherwise, if it makes sense to me. Any reasoned response is welcome. No arguing or attacks, just show the flaws in the position and what the alternatives are and it will be considered. Remember that destroying the world in any way that causes suffering, is not my position, and given that there is no way of doing this, I do not hold the position of destroying the world. I feel that stopping pro-creation in humans is only a short term, temporary solution to suffering and recognise that it does not stop other species’ suffering or evolving into more intelligent and suffering species. This is why I would prefer the theoretical, ‘destroy all life on earth instantly without suffering’ option, as impractical as this would ever be. The crux of the issue that needs to be understood and may not be fully appreciated are: · To recognise that to not exist has no input or choice or regret. Only those living can determine worth. · That for a single baby that is horrifically suffering, (and we must acknowledge that this is highly likely happening and will happen if we continue as we are and there is no way of stopping it) is not worth (in exchange) all the joys for all the people of the world, and if we come to a point where no people even exist to weigh this option up, it’s a no-brainer. This is not a suicide view. For those already living, life could or should continue. It is more a decision about the unborn, those who do not or yet live. They don’t exist/are not alive to experience or choose or appreciate life (so, ‘they’ are not missing out as there is no-one that is missing out – so this is a neutral point at worst), but life has been prevented from experiencing suffering, ever, which is good. There is a philosopher who follows some of this viewpoint (antinatalism and the asymmetry argument) called David Benatar. Check him out. Popular youtuber, Alex O’Conner (aka Cosmic Skeptic) has also spoken on the topic. Both of these (and I’m sure, many others) have better explanations than I have. I have just rambled, wrote as I thought and didn’t have time to edit or lay it out systematically. I’ll leave that to experts/others.
  7. Addendum. This may be better placed in the Forums under philosophy, so I may copy it there, too. This is a blog experiment and is for thought consideration. It is entirely theoretical, impossible to come true or be placed in anyone’s hands and it is open to challenge and if at any time the prospect loomed, I am sure I would have second thoughts or want a lot more feedback on the position to assert or reject/override my viewpoint. Further, I have presented the reasons behind it, but would like to add one more which is rather like the philosophical trolley problem. This is what I think I would like to be dealt with if I am to consider my position again: Imagine you were offered a drug to put you in an extremely high sense of pleasure. The condition is that someone will have a similar opposite sense of displeasure or suffering. Would you trade this? Would you trade it for a moderate amount of suffering in someone? Or if the person was a member of your family? Where would one draw the line? There are many selfish people in the world who probably would; probably because they don’t know the suffering person. Which is why I opt to remove democracy from them at least, for the sake of the suffering. It is no less painful for a suffering person, whether it is someone you know or not. It is only our subjective indifference to an anonymous person that drives us to ignore or mitigate their suffering. My position is that (to reflect reality) we should consider ultimate suffering and to the closest of our loved ones, though I go much further and would justify the slightest amount of suffering for the smallest amount of time to even one person as not worth coming into existence, even if life were otherwise virtually perfect. If you were to have the power to create intelligent life, and knew that all types of suffering (including extreme) would be a part of the result, albeit mixed with varying highs, would you go ahead? Try to put yourself in the position of the many who will be less fortunate and suffer, particularly in an extreme way. Few of us experience extremes on either side, but if (and as) we know that many will suffer badly, many being children and babies, is it not selfish and a horrific risk to self AND others, to justify such creation, be it creating life to start with or pro-creating? I have children myself, which makes me selfish and perhaps hypocritical. If we simply prevent further pro-creation, we are not disappointing or failing anyone, because there is no-one that exists to be disappointed (or thankful that they were not brought into existence to potentially suffer). Put in one sentence, would you allow yourself or a member of your family or your own child to suffer horrifically in exchange for others existing and having pleasure? To jump to any other statement (like destroying the world or banning human reproduction) without seriously considering the reasoning and alternative implications is not to understand or do the argument justice. The argument may seem an atheistic one, but for many believers, to have no children is to guarantee that they will not be creating the possibility of another soul going to hell (or heaven), but I appreciate there are other theistic considerations involved here. If a person’s house is destroyed, (say in a storm or fire with all the memories, souvenirs, photos and things of material value) there are feelings and emotions in the minds of existent people who may witness this and be sad at its demise. If there is no intelligent mind or creature (left) in existence (when a house is destroyed), there is no regret or sorrow or happiness. There is neutrality. No pain or suffering or joy or happiness or morality. Just nothing. Without or at the end of existence, suffering ends and no longer exists. No-one exists to experience or miss anything good. This position is undemocratic and if I had the power to press such buttons, this is a one-man dictatorship of the most extreme kind. It will never happen. Remember that I am just theorizing and may have more thinking to do on it. I would probably be better devoting my time/life to convincing people of this. If 12 thugs want to beat a child up and will take tremendous pleasure in it, is this a democratic or utilitarian decision? Would you, if you had the power, subjectively be willing to override their choice/pleasure and prevent this from occurring in order to save one person’s suffering? Democracy is all well and good when it coincides with our view. For me, it is the majority of the world who do not yet comprehend the reality of the suffering problem and how their selfishness allows it, that makes me want to take the control away from them. The world is not as overt as the thugs in the example, but for those innocent people suffering, they don’t care about where the pain comes from, they just want it gone. I think most people are selfish and do not consider the extreme suffering or want to take a chance that it won’t be them or their family. But I am taking the position that everyone is equally valued and the one suffering baby represents each of us or our own child(ren). For you to be selfish and take a chance (like the Covid-19 situation of isolation) affects everyone, not just you. In the virus situation, I believe people should, if need be, be forced into situations, e.g. of isolation (thus violating their human rights) in order to prevent them from potentially infecting others – a greater right. No amount of joy in all the people of the world is more important than (or worth or justifies) the terrible suffering of just one person. I am suggesting that one pain-free solution is to stop pro-creating (as impractical as this is, I’m just arguing theoretically to support my position and reasoning). I am simply arguing that this neutral, not existent position is superior to any world where suffering exists (and/or can’t be guaranteed to stop) and I would be happy to be convinced otherwise, if it makes sense to me. Any reasoned response is welcome. No arguing or attacks, just show the flaws in the position and what the alternatives are and it will be considered. Remember that destroying the world in any way that causes suffering, is not my position, and given that there is no way of doing this, I do not hold the position of destroying the world. I feel that stopping pro-creation in humans is only a short term, temporary solution to suffering and recognise that it does not stop other species’ suffering or evolving into more intelligent and suffering species. This is why I would prefer the theoretical, ‘destroy all life on earth instantly without suffering’ option, as impractical as this would ever be. The crux of the issue that needs to be understood and may not be fully appreciated are: · To recognise that to not exist has no input or choice or regret. Only those living can determine worth. · That for a single baby that is horrifically suffering, (and we must acknowledge that this is highly likely happening and will happen if we continue as we are and there is no way of stopping it) is not worth (in exchange) all the joys for all the people of the world, and if we come to a point where no people even exist to weigh this option up, it’s a no-brainer. This is not a suicide view. For those already living, life could or should continue. It is more a decision about the unborn, those who do not or yet live. They don’t exist/are not alive to experience or choose or appreciate life (so, ‘they’ are not missing out as there is no-one that is missing out – so this is a neutral point at worst), but life has been prevented from experiencing suffering, ever, which is good. There is a philosopher who follows some of this viewpoint (antinatalism and the asymmetry argument) called David Benatar. Check him out. Popular youtuber, Alex O’Conner (aka Cosmic Skeptic) has also spoken on the topic. Both of these (and I’m sure, many others) have better explanations than I have. I have just rambled, wrote as I thought and didn’t have time to edit or lay it out systematically. I’ll leave that to experts/others.
  8. There are certain customs, arguments or claims which seem to make sense, but you can’t quite put your finger on why or if it is true or false. And they can fool you, like an optical illusion. For me, the ontological argument for God (Anselm’s version) was one. Others include conversion experiences with a one-way (non-returnable) valve, Faith, God knows best, don’t test God, last one in the pool is a rotten egg, go and do X or I won’t be your friend anymore, don’t grass/tell on people (it’s just not done/an unwritten rule), countless logical fallacies, using emotion as a trump card in an argument. There are some things which have a down side but have a balanced up side to make it worthwhile. The early bird catches the worm. Study hard and get a wider choice of job. Have kids and give up on things to see the joy it brings. In fact there was a historical act of Suti (or Suttee), largely practised in India amongst Hindus which also presented (albeit potentially illusory) an upside to the downside, but the reward was in the life hereafter, which was not proven to exist in this life, although believed. This is where a (female – of course!) widow would sacrifice herself on the burning funeral pyre of her deceased husband. I don’t imagine even the nastiest of husband’s would ever be poisoned at dinner by his wife and in fact, his health would seem to be a pretty important part of her life, hoping she dies first. The day your husband dies, especially if he was a good man, would be all the more painful. The only other type of voluntary death, other than suicide, seems to also be amongst religious tradition or extremism. Beyond that, people would put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of others or make a self-sacrifice for the sake of other close relatives or friends. This is altruism. But an extreme form exists within several animal species. Matriphagy. White widow. No greater love. Theodicy. Some animal species make the ultimate sacrifice. This includes (certain) spiders, earwigs, pseudo-scorpions and (vertebrate) caecilians. In some spiders, females produce a liquid from their mouths from pre-digested food and/or eggs to feed their young for a few days. After gaining weight/size, a day after the spiderlings have moulted/shed their first exoskeleton, the mother instinctively goes through a process. She walks around the web, vibrating the thread and releasing new thread, which stimulates the spiderlings into coming to a prominent or central place on the web. The mother then comes and presses against the newly congregated mass of spiderlings who then make her their first victim and (by the process) they collectively and conveniently now have a clear understanding/lesson of how future victims/prey will be recognised and what they should do to entice and subdue it. They all start a frenzy and begin injecting venom into her, which she clearly finds painful and could run away from, but she doesn’t. Within minutes to a couple of hours, all her juices have been sucked out and her life empties into the stomachs of her offspring, leaving a shell. This is not exclusive to mothers. Virgin females will also sacrifice themselves in this way. Males often die soon after mating too or become victim of the mated partner. The spider species involved seem to have larger offspring with faster growth rates and so potentially preventing other options of offspring survival. This seems a horrible (but sadly not that rare a) branch of natural selection, resulting in such horrific (but evolutionarily logical) results and logic. Surely it would have been better for the mothers to have just said, ‘no way’ and died out as a species. I wonder if some form of, ‘coping with the suffering’ evolved too? What an amazing example of a species who’s males and females, mothers and virgin females give their all, solely for the propagation of the species and, seemingly nothing else. Unless someone perhaps knows of a budding arachnid Bach or Renoir, leaving behind a gift for the species to enjoy. I am reminded of other species that suffer because of things like parasites (e.g. eating into your eye and controlling your brain or eating you from the inside out). For those of you who are theists, atheists, moral objectivists, subjectivists, nihilists, free-willers or determinists, it’s not very nice to think about and varyingly easy to explain or justify. Sometimes, the truth hurts, whether you like or accept it or not. There is an extreme (theoretical at least) philosophical view that I have considered since long before I even knew what philosophy meant or was, although I have more recently found it to be a recognised and serious position. If I could press a button and instantly destroy (and make) all life on earth extinct, (without any suffering), I would do it. Even in my theistic life, no-one could convince me that an eternity in heaven could be good, and the everlasting part just made it worse or made me wonder if that was just phase 2 and something else might be planned (by God) for later, still leaving some option open for me having to make a choice or be forced to do something or go somewhere I didn’t want to go. Heaven was always a place I was not convinced that was consistent, unchangingly or perfect, and hell was, whilst bad, at least consistent. I do not mean to be dismissive or speak lightly of this, but these things did plague my mind. To me, heaven was never a motive for becoming or staying a Christian, though hell was a place that put fear in me long after I defected. The reason (for my quite extreme philosophical view) is subjective and I would be forcing my view and action on everyone in the process, therefore removing democracy and other people’s view or preferences. I basically don’t like suffering, for myself or others or anyone or any living thing that suffers or even could suffer (even potentially through evolution over billions of years), so I wanted to take control of the world in order to prevent ANYONE from ever suffering in any way, but particularly suffering heavily, which many will continue to do, even if it may not be YOU personally, but you and I represent everyone, including that person in a horrific state of suffering. To me, it is not a case of taking a chance, hoping I will be lucky. It is the experiential knowledge that many of us do suffer and some, terribly, some randomly and some predictably and no-one expects it for our child when we choose to create life. The worst type of human suffering probably includes torture (physical and emotional) but may not be limited to this. Accident, disease or illness are others. If I consider the most extreme possible example of a child or baby being tortured, (and take an is/ought type of position) then (for me) this cannot justify or be compensated by any amount of good, so cannot justify life in the first place IF such a bad incident could occur, and I suggest it can, has, does and will continue to do so. As no life equates to no pain or suffering or knowledge or a representative that exists to experience such, then not existing is not a bad thing, it just isn’t anything, so we don’t exist to ponder goodness or badness or weigh up the options. Put another way, if a person never existed to start with, s/he will never suffer or experience anything, good or otherwise, so will be none the wiser, can have no regrets or hopes or anything. S/he is in a neutral position. When I say s/he, s/he has never existed in the first place of course, so there is no person or mind to exist and consider or see in hindsight about the options. There are millions of potential sperm that will never see the light of day, have no regrets and (thankfully) never suffered. YOU can only experience and appreciate good things because you exist and are here. And if a 100% suffering-free life were guaranteed, I still see no benefit (perhaps other than a selfish one) to having children, given the option (non-existence). As there is no such mechanism to destroy the earth, certainly without suffering anyway, then I have to constrain my ideology to the life that exists now. From today, anyone alive will be dead in 120 or so years (less or plus any medical advancements in restricting or developing the ageing process). So my current theory is to stop all human pregnancy and so force the extinction of humankind by about 2100-2150, when people will be too old to reproduce anymore and die off naturally. This would be problematic in the detail, e.g. providing for the latter few years with food, medicine, warmth without electricity or gas etc. unless euthanasia options were on hand, which, under the impending circumstances, might have been considered and be available. Sadly, I need universal consensus, the law and no exceptions to implement this, which is unlikely. It also doesn’t stop the suffering and future evolution of the rest of life on earth. So, my theory seems exactly that – theoretical and not very practical. I would also add that I am very lazy and hypocritical. Whilst I have been both a vegetarian and a vegan before, I am currently largely a carnivore, but (theoretically) hold a vegan position, I’m just not committed (yet) to indulge myself. Do as I say, not as I do.
  9. That's right, a cross or sword type symbol is often used as an instant visual marker to distinguish extinct from extant taxa and is of particular use in lists, databases, trees and dendrograms of living (when comnbined of course with previously living) organisms. You will find errors on the current Explorer which we will not be correcting as we are focusing on a new tree whilst the current one remains for interest. To determine whether a taxon is extinct, all of its descendents (branches and leaf nodes/species) must also be extinct. If this is not the case (e.g. with dinosaurs), then the taxon or clade node must be listed as extant. Put simply, where an extinct symbol is on any branch node, you could snip (the branch off there) or colour code it to show that it is entirely extinct without exception from that point forth, moving to the more recent.
  10. brachiosteve

    Sex

    A lot of life is symbiotic. Most animals can’t exist without plants and some plants can’t exist without animals and some plants can’t exist without other plants and the same with some animals. And this can be extended to bacteria. For evolution to even occur in most animals, there is a requirement for a male to meet a female and for them to get along, (at least for a bit), or be tempted or for one to dominate the other. This practise needs to be so powerful and independent, that no amount of change (in the animal or environment etc.) can prevent it. Evolution has enabled some extreme changes in order to keep this magnetic force going. Some moths (e.g. which may be rare or not spatially close) can detect a partner 7 miles away. Similar effects occur with sound in mammals. Whales can be heard over a hundred miles away, and wolves, sloths, foxes, cats etc. all have distinct sounds that can be detected far away, e.g. as a warning or to attract a mate. When did people first link the act of copulation with pregnancy? There is no doubt that by linking the two and also knowing how the process works and by implication how to stop it, has significantly affected human evolution and as we can now screen genetic variations/abnormalities and may extend this in future to choosing eye or hair colour etc. Remember Adolf, the tall, blond haired, blue eyed Adonis who ruled Germany and wanted to create a perfect Arian race? Is it possible that any other animals link copulation with pregnancy? Naturalistically, many animals naturally (without learning) look after their young and can control their temperament, e.g. between family and hunting. Some fish/birds/reptiles etc. can return to the same place thousands of miles away (migration in winter or spawning/laying eggs/mating), without any logical or learned way of actually knowing it. I wonder how much the effect of war paint or gyms, fashion or sweet shops and fast food, cosmetic surgery (to name but a few factors) have affected human evolution in the selection process? Sex, whilst a wonder of nature, is pretty well understood in terms of what the body does and feels or produces to arouse the desires it does, as many nature documentaries like to show, be it on the farm, at the zoo or in the wild. Some animals can die of exhaustion (or get eaten) in the process. Some do it once in a lifetime, others live only for it and others die soon after it. Some individuals never do it for various reasons and some do it in a way that is not pro-creative or for the entertainment of self or others. In a time when man did not see the link between the act and the pro-creative result of intercourse, (and in a time when there were no hospitals or medical practitioners), [when was this and/or how old is contraception?] if women hoped or feared for having a child and if they thought it was down to a god or prayer or a certain time or luck or worth or if it was related to something they did or how good or bad they were? Did they even link it to being with a partner or being in a relationship as opposed to being single/being a virgin? Imagine being a woman and witnessing a horrifically painful birth or even a still birth, how scared you must be all the time. Thanks to science for all their advancements and for making life so much easier and more comfortable and safe and long and happy and ….
  11. Parameters, statistics, limitations and predictions of evolution. The coronavirus pandemic is a good example of the unpredictable things which can happen in evolution. Sometimes, a whole ecosystem or food source might change or be lost, and some life may readily adapt, whilst other life perishes. A slight temperature change might cause extinction for some and not for others. Sometimes something (even seemingly small) might affect all life (or significant parts of it) or something catastrophic might not bother things at all. The most resilient organism might not be able to cope or adapt to something entirely new, whilst some vulnerable (to change) things might not have a problem with something which it can adapt to. If we knew the limits and likelihood of environmental factors and conditions with accuracy, we could predict evolution a lot better. Like in, ‘war of the worlds’ or, ‘Day of the triffids’ or, ‘Achilees’ where a seemingly all powerful, destructive organism was caught out by the simplest of things. Since the advent of computers, digital media and the internet, cloud storage and micro drives, humanity has largely burnt its bridges from the manual and paper system. It is so easy to lose data, as the existence of thousands of data recovery companies testify to. A 128Gb USB drive (there are 1+ Tb ones now) the size of the smallest pencil sharpener is so deceptively large by storage of data standards, (millions of books/files, thousands of videos, hundreds of thousands of photos). A library full. Imagine if a company, library, government office or hospital burnt down with all their files. Well if all that can fit in your trouser pocket and be lost amongst the loose change and simply fall out, it is very dangerous and deceptive and depending on what is on it, it could be harmful to individuals or even a nation. I often used to lie in bed, thinking about possibilities. One, was that the universe might suddenly forget something (a law?) or someone might do something that catches the monist essence out, and everything breaks down, or a black hole suddenly engulfs the universe. One episode of the twilight zone (I of Newton) featured a demon speaking to a maths professor. He was describing all the power he had and granted him one request/task which he would answer/do. Very much like a genie. He said, ‘get lost’. The demon looked confused and scared as he disappeared, forever no doubt. The current (March 2020) situation with coronavirus was unpredicted and no doubt something much worse could occur, be it something that is a virus that spreads easier, lasts longer or has more serious effects etc. But there are an infinite larger number of, equally unknown and unpredictable scenarios, like civil or international wars etc. that are related or unrelated. But even now, it is affecting the whole world in every sense. Business, society, companies, hospitals, shops, work, school, travel and… many will die. That is why it is often futile to predict evolution, though there are many quite stable factors that are more likely than others. Using oxygen as a source of respiration is highly likely and whales and fish sticking it out in water for the foreseeable future (or becoming extinct if the need to leave happens quickly). If all digital media and access was lost, I wonder what would happen? Like the Y2K fear, but much bigger (and actually real)? It is the indirect consequences that are the things of unknown consequence. And what if mankind became extinct? What would happen over the next few years, decades and centuries and beyond? It might sort climate change out. Yes, it does exist. The Indian government has recommended Homeopathy as a method of helping the coronavirus pandemic. That’s where we (in the UK – ironically, but genuinely) get our best doctors from. It is also ironic that we think ourselves superior to all other life, which is perhaps a belief hiding behind weapons, walls and technology we have made to hide behind. In truth, we are a small, weak species who would struggle to survive alone. And personal strength is not the measure of advancement. If just a small number of species died out, we could be overrun. If insects died, we would die. If we died, the animal kingdom wouldn’t even blink and would carry on a thrive as a result. But not just that. The ozone layer and global warming would return to safe levels. Far from being the greatest species since sliced bread, we are probably the worst, weakest and most evil and destructive. But it doesn’t need to be that way. It just depends how bad we want it. Twilight Zone – I of Newton: What would happen if humans suddenly died? https://www.alphr.com/science/1003598/what-would-happen-if-all-the-humans-suddenly-vanished
  12. A biological, ‘Lineal’ system is one made to reflect evolutionary ancestry. A biological, ‘Linnaean’ system is one made to reflect hierarchical created kinds. The irony/etymology of the strikingly similar names is coincidental and the wonder is that the system, still (after 250 years) holds dual functionality as baraminology and the phylocode have both (for very different reasons) failed to take off or replace it. The term, ‘tree’ is of course, a representation of how life was/is, and merely tries to compare and conjure up an image and show, relationally, how one real, live realm is visualised on paper or as a computer programme or simulation. Other terms put forward, include bush, shrub, forest, hedgerow, weed system and (Darwin’s suggestion, not mine), Coral. My own offer is a, ‘sponge’. This eliminates all the free or empty space/gaps of non-life and other events, and brings all life together, with mere walls separating them, with gaps only where there are life gaps, like extinction/the end of a lineage. Food for thought, perhaps. Sometimes a visualisation has to be different, even complex, in order to capture clarity, just as some simple visually similar representations may confuse when looking deeper. And such is the case here. A phylogeny, (or a phylogenetic tree) as Wikipedia nicely puts it, is a diagrammatic hypothesis about the history of the evolutionary relationships of a group of organisms. The tips of a phylogenetic tree can be living organisms or fossils, and represent the 'end', or the present/ongoing, in an evolutionary lineage. Like many representations, allegories or examples in life, this system is also limited, has its boundaries and only tells one part of a story. It skips thousands of generations and has convenient, unnatural, selective stages (clade nodes), omitting other less interesting ones and has forever, in-between nodes to be discovered or included. There is no direct, ‘individual’ lineage shown in a phylogeny. It assumes multiple generations between stages. This can cover a multitude of, ‘sins’ literally – as genealogies now show!). Let me explain. There are phylogeny comparables out there. Imagine trying to build a human/family genealogy tree (micro phylogeny), with the typical tree based methodology used. This would seem a good, logical method and based on ancestry. But it is not always as we think. The pretty structure (and the genetics) gets messed up in many ways. When someone adopts a child, has a sex change, marries someone of the same sex or a relative, has a child-producing affair, uses a sperm or egg bank, is artificially enabled to reproduce, is a bigamist, step/half sibling, rapes or gets raped, is a sperm/egg donor or reproduces with a different ape species. Those pretty trees, as followed (for example by own Latter Day Saint friends) showing happy families - brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, uncles, aunties etc. are often wrong in many ways. Try building a tree with some of these inconvenient factors (just mentioned) and see how challenging it is. The question is, do we intend to show history or genetic ancestry or happy families or all of these? The fact that this is so much more difficult to lay out on paper or a computer, is because we only started with, or looked at, part of the story, which is not necessarily compatible with our limited/false selection of pretty, natural, undiluted ancestry tree. It depends what you want from it. If we want a fuller, more complete, detailed understanding of evolution, then the current clade, hierarchical or phylogeny based methods won’t cut it. They either need to accommodate much more and varied information or numerous data diagrams/dendrograms need compiling and linked or overlaid. Think about digital maps with optional/selectable layers of terrain, sub-terrain, populations, crime stats, roads, views over time etc.) to give a greater understanding and perspective. With evolution, we have only scraped the surface. The problems are, 1.) the technology to build/incorporate all this data and bring it together, plus 2.) the very limited information we have, both of the past (especially, but not exclusively very early life) and current (e.g. we simply can’t really track (or indeed recognise) interbreeding of populations or across genera or between species most of the time, in 99.999% of cases, so we have too little information and the research needed to even begin to monitor this is too little, too late, aside from the costs/staff needed. By way of example, imagine trying to compile history or a genealogy, if most of the records are destroyed or don’t exist, using what, if anything, is left. So, we can’t even track our true/near ancestry under our noses, (e.g. because secret, ‘things’ sometimes go on under someone else’s bed sheets) for some of the reasons listed. This throws things off track or muddies the bloodline and gene pools. So how much worse and inaccurate is it, when we are working at a hugely zoomed out level (of species with thousands or more of missed generations between), and many unknown or extinct or taxa of indeterminate lineage. Fortunately, we have tools now, which can help us link the present to the past, making it less important to know who or what slept with who or what, because we can slice though the secrets of the bedroom and remove time-based CCTV. DNA, genetics and decoding species genomes does all of this. Paternity tests using a simple swab or blood sample. Using microscopes and computers that can transfer millions of bits of biological data related to a species or individual, for computer analysis or comparison. This can reveal solid evidence of inheritance. It trumps any testimony, denial, good character or alibi by placing you/it, microscopically at the scene. Guilty. Genes don’t lie, even though they may be incomplete and not tell the whole story. Ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies. So, even if we sub-divide subspecies (like domestic dogs) into breeds on the tree (which hybridises phylogeny and genealogy) or we include ring species or add cross pollinators or occasional ancestral population meetups (like Motty the elephant) due to natural or un-natural events, or even if we breed with other apes, it doesn’t really change the bigger macro picture, as these are micro events by comparison. Whether some, ‘butterfly’ effect could change things, (or a huge genetic fertility mix across class, phylum or kingdom), I don’t know, but the HGT dog’s dinner, in effect, already does this. At Phylogeny Explorer Project HQ, we are building an, ‘accurate a representation of the phylogeny of life’ as we can, in as far as we can determine it. The team is brimming with ideas to add value and added information to anything else already out there (and here is one example, which attempts to reflect how populations can or have or do remain inter-fertile and attempt to define the limits of speciation in populations, which can have multiple new applications), but we really need your support to get there, by volunteering or donating, both/either of which can be found on this Website.
  13. The phylogeny challenge… is simple and like the, ‘pin the tail on the donkey’, game but without the blindfold. Given access to the phylogenetic tree of life, stick a mark wherever you think there is a, ‘kind’ barrier, where it is unrelated to anything else in another, ‘kind’ (or baramin) group. If all life is related by common descent, back to a single or several original lifeforms, then there should be evidence for this. If life was created in separate groups (kinds) that are unrelated, then there should be evidence for this. Evidence for one or the other should be powerful and exclusive to one. This is one of Aron Ra’s original hopes for this project. An irrefutable jigsaw showing either fluidity or distinct separation. Like predicting whether it is a portrait or a landscape. When you have completed so much, it becomes increasingly clear which one it is. This is not an attack on religion or God. We remain neutral or impartial on this. We are unconcerned whether there is a God that guides evolution or not, but we are concerned with the methods and means and evidence for this mechanism, and bad or false science. Aron Ra wrote a critical book on Creationism. It highlights some of the stereotypes and foundational falsehoods used, which in turn was based on a set of Youtube videos, called, ‘Foundational falsehoods of Creationism’ as was the book. In fact on Amazon, it is listed alongside two books – ‘The Selfish Gene’ by Richard Dawkins and, ‘A universe from nothing’ by Lawrence Krauss. Nice. Here’s the link, and I thoroughly recommend it: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Foundational-Falsehoods-Creationism-Aron-Ra/dp/1634310780 (When I say, ‘stereotypes’, the examples used in the book are very real and they cover 99% of the arguments used. I speak with some experience from the side of Christianity and theology and creationism. I am a teacher and have a degree in theology and philosophy. I went to Bible college (and was an assistant pastor) and I also did an honours thesis on Creation/evolution and was a Creationist and speaker for over twenty years, not to mention being the creator of the Ark encounter.) In the classic British TV comedy show, ‘Yes Prime Minister’, the health secretary is represented by a fat old, drunk, chain smoking guy. In, ‘Father Ted’, Father Dougal doesn’t believe in God or the afterlife. Dr. Kent Hovind has no legitimate doctorates and the American, Russian and British head’s of state that should be such role models to their country and the world, seem to have pretty significant shortcomings when it comes to equality/respect for others in some areas. You wouldn’t tend to hire a History teacher who denied or hadn’t heard of the Holocaust. A geography teacher who didn’t know what a continent or where Africa was or a Nanny who hated kids. In this video, we have a man of science - a medical doctor (a dentist by trade) who was a member of the state board of education for Texas which oversaw state school quality, arguing against evolution and yet doesn’t know what evolution is, and demonstrates blatant bias and ignorance and has stated so in writing as well as here. He is a nice, respectful and patient guy though, I’ll give him that. I remember buying a car once. I had decided which one, but (to make a significant other happy), I said I would look at the competition. I said I’d keep an open mind, and I made all the right expressions, implied I was listening and made notes. In truth, it was a show, and I knew I would end up with the car I originally wanted. I diminished or ignored any highlights for better options, and played up the (often, very few) good points in favour of my preferred car. I mention this to consider before or during watching this video and to ask oneself if you have ever done something similar or been closed minded. He is very good at asking, ‘so how do you explain…. It seems so unbelievable’, (a logical fallacy appeal) but doesn’t like answers that are facts, evidence based, reasoned, logical, demonstrable, true or proven. He doesn’t attempt or offer a single piece of evidence to support any of his own contentions, thus defining a god of the gaps scenario (even when the gap is filled with something rational). This is quite a humiliating and embarrassing video for one person here, but he seems to be pretty immune to such things. He keeps asking questions, getting answers and then, despite the correct answer to the questions, ignoring and never challenging the evidence based response, and merely appealing to how it seems so designed/beautiful. If you see a pianist playing something amazing or an amazing painting or new concept car, you can still be amazed (maybe even more), by learning how it came about. Hard daily training/practise for years or a great imagination, built on prior engineering. You can still be amazed, BUT you can’t NOW deny how it occurred, because it has been shown. But this guy can and does, constantly. He is clearly just saying, I hear the answer you gave, I don’t challenge it (and he is being offered the chance to be convinced), but then says, but I don’t accept it. This not an open minded person or a person who accepts the logic or superiority of scientific evidence when provided. The agenda and limit to which he will not listen beyond, is made very clear. It is a model stereotypical ostrich response. Prior boundaries could have been set, e.g. as to what constitutes acceptably reasonable evidence. I imagine that he would accept the theories or laws regarding electricity and many other things we take for granted, BUT only because they don’t conflict with any pre-conceptual belief or book. Identically powerful evidence that does conflict, but that is not accepted, is clear evidence that such a person is not being reasonable or consistent. If you are not willing to change your position if convinced or shown otherwise, you will not be successful in changing the person’s mind. You can lead a horse to water… Aron overcame even this, by challenging him that he could prove to/convince him, to his own satisfaction, that evolution is true. The reply. ‘Someday’. Aron – ‘’soon’. He is clearly not interested, and the answers to the questions he was asking are readily available, had he tried looking. This was one guy, offering to answer all of his opponents questions on a free, wide ranging agenda within and well beyond evolution, with science/evidence and not speculation, guesswork, ambiguity or generalisations. To be able or willing to be challenged or questioned, live, (without notes) on creation/evolution is a very brave thing to do. Your subject knowledge needs to be very good and very wide ranging. Something that most scientists do not have. An expert on the breeding habits of rabbits would expect to present a very strong case, defence or explanation on this narrow topic. He may know little on other aspects of rabbit origins, or other mammals or little to nothing on phylogeny or invertebrates or plants or the Creationist or ID arguments or what they might say or how they may respond. It is hard to overestimate how much knowledge is required to tackle such a wide open topic, let alone come out successfully or deal with the innumerable excuses, responses, old arguments, gallups or get-outs. Aron Ra is able to do what he does (explain evolution or debate the issue of evolution/creation) better than any other person I have ever seen, and he does this because of a range of factors, and I’d love to hear of anyone that anyone feels does a similarly good job on this topic of Creation/evolution. He reads, digests and remembers a lot. He has stood up to anti-science a lot. He engages with people a lot. He keeps up to date. He loves the topic and cause. He has a huge, natural, engaging Texan voice and personality. He is able to quickly digest and filter questions and understands any underhanded meanings or shortcomings and addresses them head-on. He does not let opponents get away with anything. He has a great way with words and explaining things, and can pull everything together so well and succinctly, where most others would miss the key flaws or point or go on too long or make it boring. He is able to get any additional or useful points across, anticipating the questions that arise from it. He has rarely, if ever been stuck or got caught out by questions, even though it is perfectly reasonable to state that you are not well versed on that particular topic or some new information you would prefer to examine first or refer to someone who has knowledge or read it. What he does, would otherwise take a large group of experts or specialists, or someone who has spent a very long, active time learning, understanding and interacting, communicating and writing widely. And that’s not accounting for the natural skill sets mentioned above. Dr McLeroy was good at asking for specifics, but was not so keen on going off with Aron to have them shown to him. This is showing your limits, true colours, motive, allegiance, bias and state of immovability to a view. When a view is of higher authority than the evidence or your capacity to be convinced or willingness to change, it is time to reconsider your views. And the question you may be asking yourself: If you cut Aron’s hair, will he lose this knowledge or ability to do what he does? You can support the work of Aron Ra in all he does (except the Phylogeny Explorer Project) here: PATREON► https://www.patreon.com/aronra PAYPAL► https://www.paypal.me/AronRa If you are wanting to support the Phylogeny Explorer Project, please do so here: https://phylogenyexplorerproject.org/ (scroll down a bit, it’s on the right.) or here: https://phylogenyexplorerproject.org/clients/donations/
  14. brachiosteve

    question

    Hi Kevin. You are not restricted to just one question. All data we use is sourced and/or researched manually from a range of resources by volunteer teams of project scientists and enthusiasts alike, with editorial/Quality controls. Having said that, we shall be utilising more sites as well as larger public access ones and technology to import them to our tree. We are always looking for volunteers in a range of positions, including scientists and phylogenetic data analysts to help sort and resolve clade relationships, which is just one of many factors that will make us unique. We are happy to link and promote other good resources and/or collaborate in various ways. We intend to produce an accurate, quality programme which will be peer reviewed where possible (or noted where not and why). The programme is largely off line whilst we complete a new database, which we will then transfer and import data and a new set of information, so with user testing, it may be offline to the public for a while longer. Are you such a potential volunteer, Kevin and/or are you coming from a different perspective?
  15. brachiosteve

    question

    Hi Kevin. I’m not sure I see this as a rude question, but questions are all about motives, and I would ask it in a different way if I were just curious about who is involved. As it stands, there are so many different ways to answer this (which I am happy to elaborate on), so to save some time, I will let you explain your question a bit more, and then I will hopefully be able to answer it.
  16. We are happy to add anything we have missed, and we have some plants. Completely forgot about that group. What is it again, animalia? We'll investigate and if we find any, we'll add them. Just joking, Mr E. Great question, seriously! If you are not a member of our Facebook group, The Phylogeny Explorer Development, then may I encourage you to do so. There's a catalogue of interesting stuff over the years you can see. This very question was asked on 6th January this year, entitled, 'What is an animal?' In a nutshell, it comes down to a few factors. The difference between traditional hierarchical systematic taxonomy vs clades and phylogenetic definitions. It also concerns what name is used. Sometimes a name is replaced for a range of reasons, e.g. one term doesn’t really cover a specific group or due to new discoveries, names are no longer relevant. The term Animalia and Metazoa are often used synonymously or interchangeably, but technically one group is slightly larger, encompassing some additional species. A good example that is more well known, is chordates and vertebrates. You can simultaneously be both an ape, monkey, primate and mammal for example. We are also fish, but not phylogenetically, as no such group exists, it’s a catch-all convenient name. A bit like the American group, ‘fish and wildlife service’ (very ambiguous) or the term, ‘invertebrate'. It is apples and oranges, confusing terms. We use the term, Metazoa on the project and focus more on monophyletic clades, but we will be sure to explain (e.g. within the Metazoan node or close to it) several other terms that are of similar rank and groupings. Whilst the project has widened and developed over time, the primary purpose of the project, (as the founder, Aron Ra set out and this has not changed), is to lay out a comprehensive, visual evolutionary tree as determined by relationship and time between taxa, thus showing how life, in as far as we can show/know, has come to be. This involves a lot of complex and varied science and mathematics and research band investigation. As more information comes to light, we will amend, where needed, (and some of these early relationships in pre-history are open to interpretation, but the jigsaw puzzle is clear enough to determine that it is a picture of a scenic landscape rather than a portrait, for example. The facts of evolutionary descent with modification through natural selection is not in dispute, in fact this is the main purpose of the project, to demonstrate this for the first time on a single page, which has no escape route. Previously, it has only been possible to demonstrate this in snapshots through metaphorical microscopes or telescopes.
  17. I was in the military, on guard duty in the jungles of Central America one night. I remember observing, under the yellow tinge of a sodium light, a female praying mantis and its young (or smaller partner?). I spent a while watching them and how such a complex set of decisions (about eating, moving, interacting, protecting, sleeping, mating, defence etc.) were held in such a tiny brain. They would only live for a year, at most, (from being born – no idea how old these were) and I wondered if they were happy or would have a life worth living and how much longer it would have to live. My questions were abruptly answered. My colleague crept up, sprayed them with insect repellent, and laughed. The struggles that these creatures had gone through in their shortened life and the nonsense-icle, purposeless ending, with no justice, karma or follow up to look forward to or face, for them or him. There are numerous other examples that are equally relatable. A youth, rampaging through a flowerbed and pulling them up, feeling proud that s/he has impressed her/his mates, with total disregard for the effort required to create it and no consideration to the defencelessness of his target or the weak, pathetic lack of discipline for her/his actions or thoughtlessness for the consequences or re-creation task. The one I think of, is Galileo Galilei and the Catholic church. The father of modern science needs wide shoulders, to bear all of us who can but stand on them in admiration. And he worked 400 years ago. His solitary achievements, inventions, discoveries and work made him the hero he is, and yet a brute picked him up, incapacitated him and stuck him in prison/confinement for his Copernican supporting enlightenments, prevented him from speaking out, and he died there. One wonders what the church achieved during this incarceration compared to what Galileo would have, alone, if he were free, or what it achieved in his lifetime, worldwide compared to what that one man achieved. The discoveries that followed, because of him, have led to other scientists saving millions of lives and so much more. The Jesuits were supposed to lead the world in scientific enquiry and astronomy, and they did this to this great astronomer. I think something happened about 2000 years ago like this, according to legend. The Catholic church has made attempts to apologise and erect a statue, which was put on hold. In the museum of Galileo in Italy, there is a relic on display for all to see, from the Pope (for which it is but a short distance) up. A reminder of the past. Galileo’s middle finger! Isn’t that ironic. I want to encourage all those who read this, make the most of your life, and be inspired by the many founding fathers of science who mostly achieved so much in such a short time, alone under difficult conditions in ancient times. Don’t waste a year, month, week, day, not even an hour. It is so precious. If need be, get an organiser, manage your time, reward your efforts and move quickly on from failures or disappointments. Prioritise, focus on what’s important and frequently think about what would happen if you left sooner that you expected and what your legacy might be. Will others be provided for or have to sort through a lot of stuff? Don’t have regrets – sort them, put them to rest or make a mass apology and move on. Today is the first day of the rest of your life.
  18. Motivated by our valued member, Charles Cameron from a recent post on a huge, man sized leaf discovery. Palm leaves can grow to 20m though! To my knowledge, there is no site or authority, one can go or be directed to, that logs or registers new species. What usually happens, is that dedicated databases of taxa, like the Reptile database for example, keep a look out in the literature and in related news articles. There is no obligation for anyone to register anything anywhere. So, amateur naturalists and professional researchers alike, who come across something, which is or may be new, might not know or be focused or interested (or have no time to log) something new, and any reference may be incidental in their writing. That means, anyone looking to find new species to keep their records up to date, will sometimes have no way of knowing that a new species was discovered, because the research (and its title and key word search) will not indicate this. I, myself fell victim to this. I discovered a snake in the Americas. It was venomous, and possibly the most venomous on the continent. I took photos, checked with the local Audubon society and the local zoo, and assumed that specialists may be interested in it and recognise it. Unfortunately (but thanks to the rigours of scientific scrutiny), I did not know the etiquette of what was required to prove my finding to science. I left the continent without the ability to bring it back home. Years passed, and when I went to the Natural history museum in London, the difficulty was explained to me. Possible digital editing, how was it known that it was not found elsewhere, imported or a pet or where the photos were taken? If it was a holotype, maybe it was a mutant etc. In fact, there may well be many mistaken species, and sometimes they get spotted. If we went through museum collections with a fine tooth comb, we would also find many new species, and in fact that is what some people do. You could do it yourself if you show good reason and intent, as there are simply not enough people/time to do it. There are regulations for uncovering fossils and minerals, buried treasure and archaeological findings, with regard to declaring them or handing them over. In the UK, it is illegal to even go and, ‘observe’ smooth snakes, due to their scarcity. I propose, especially in our current, climatic situation, that there should be legislation or even just an agreed voluntary protocol, to have to submit any findings, be it after a casual walk in the park, a big dig or a field research project, that anything relating to potential new identifications be referred to a specific source. And I propose that source be the Phylogeny Explorer Project, or one of 2 or three options, but have a shared link to ensure it reaches all of the key, international databases, if/when a new species is officially identified. It seems crazy that there is no such process in place, but if you look at the laws and penalties for things like animal cruelty, chemical pollution and other biological or environmental crimes, one begins to see how, only one species really matters. https://news.mongabay.com/2019/11/amazon-tree-giant-leaves-coccoloba-gigantifolia-new-species-brazil/?fbclid=IwAR2P2sb_wjQDcGBmXdP3eJ-YBjsQe40IbU5YtlKiWL1Ux--sUrbv3hqsU_M
  19. This is in support of/response/addition to a Facebook post, where I asked if chickens can fly or not. It's not black and white as it depends on definitions, but it’s a great example of an inherited trait being lost or artificially designed, under our noses. At what point is a species classed as having or not having trait/attribute y? On our Explorer, the clade nodes are visually represented by whether they are extinct or not, by way of the extinct symbol. In the past, some volunteer enthusiasts had not fully understood some of the rules of annotating cladograms, and resulted in us having to go back and re-check this error, which is ongoing but in hand. This was a learning curve, and taught us to ensure that we produce proper documentation, training, QC, designated roles and appropriately qualified or experienced personnel to monitor this. The rule is, on extinction, (as a negative) that only if every example within that clade, fits, can the whole clade be annotated as such. So, dinosaurs (because birds form a part of this clade) must be left open as being extant, NOT just the bird part. And further, ALL clades higher, that encompass dinosaurs, must also be left open as extant, right back to the root. Only the subordinate clades which have no examples remaining, can be annotated at its root node. There are no other examples of dinosaurs left, so if all birds died out tomorrow, dinosaurs could be said to be, and annotated, extinct. The term, ‘Dinosaur’ is being used in the cladistics sense. But, if we were to apply the positive attribute of flight (true flight – unassisted by gravity, wind or other body or external source) to chickens, then if any, single example still flies, it (the clade root) does not get a tick unless all fly. The same logic/implication would mean that flight needs to be ticked in all higher clades back to the root, but clearly, flight had not evolved then. So, what happens, is at the onset of flight, flight can be ticked. Flight is not a cladistics term, it is/can be, a part of what makes up the collective defining attributes. So, whilst all descendants of birds, remain birds (and also whatever new clades/derivatives they evolve into), flight is something that can change. So, any bird which cannot fly, can be ticked as a non-flier, individually, but to compare extinct, flight and other things is not entirely fair comparables. I would be inclined to say that chickens can fly, only IF there is a verified, extant example and we may need to ask about whether wild and domestic ones are included or how far back we go. The internet seems to show that there are examples, under the limits I presented above, (but many dubious ones, too, with nothing that has yet convinced me, but feel free to post/link), but I’d like to see more concrete evidence. Perhaps surprisingly, I have never seen evidence that a hippo (the, ‘river’ horse!) can actually swim, despite some extensive searching and videos, from zoos and in the wild. But swimming may need defining. I would also point out that the record distance for a chicken flying, is under 100m. Flying fish can travel much further and for much longer, through the air by distance. How does 45 seconds, horizontally sound! Is this potentially flight? So just bear that in mind, and, like my own discovery and photographic evidence of a new species of highly venomous snake, photo’s may not tell the whole story or provide enough evidence, (see the blog on the Website entitled, ‘The sacrosanct nature of verification’ or note what, ‘Trigger’ would like you to think in this attached video, that he shows proof. And there is a philosophical reflection of, ‘the ship of Theseus’ problem which you may like to search for. It’s always good to learn something new, especially if you’ve done ten impossible things before breakfast.
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