(my|pi)thical (satyr) Sat 14 Aug 99 12:13
Eliminating the state board would probably still constitute a win for the people who want evolution out of the curriculum, since it will probably just get the state out of the curriculum-setting business. But matters as they stand are such an embarassment that I actually gave a moment's thought to burning my high school diploma in protest -- the point being that they've already taken one huge step towards rendering it worthless. Evolution isn't only important to the understanding of species diversity and relatedness, but the concept is finding application throughout science, and failure to understand it is to fail to be properly prepared for the study of many subjects.
Steven Solomon (ssol) Sat 14 Aug 99 14:22
Remember where this conference space came from? Whole Earth... CoEvolutionary Quarterly... Stewart Brand, and all that. Natural that a group "hrrrmph" about such an act of willful ignorance and idiotic disservice to the inheritors of our civilization should find voice here. So, what do we do about it?
John Payne (satyr) Sat 14 Aug 99 22:27
<scribbled by satyr Sat 14 Aug 99 22:27>
wildebeagle (satyr) Sat 14 Aug 99 22:30
Hrrrmph loudly! If the situation persists, and particularly if it worsens, universities may have to start paying special attention to students applying from Kansas for what they might never have had an opportunity to learn in school. A market for remedial education might also develop...
Wendy M. Grossman (wendyg) Sun 15 Aug 99 03:26
Indeed. But meanwhile let's just kick Kansas out of the Union. wg
wildebeagle (satyr) Sun 15 Aug 99 11:36
Don't say that too loud; the western third of the state would likely take you up on the offer... ;-)
Andrew Brown (andrewb) Sun 15 Aug 99 12:10
What's special about that part of it? Watermelons? (incidentally, I got the watermelon gag in to the Daily Express on friday)
Wendy M. Grossman (wendyg) Sun 15 Aug 99 12:31
wildebeagle (satyr) Mon 16 Aug 99 09:00
> what's special about that part of it It's culturally western (high plains to be specific), whereas the rest of the state is more midwestern.
Wendy M. Grossman (wendyg) Mon 16 Aug 99 09:43
And they drive like maniacs, at 110 mph. But then, they *can*. Forget curves and hills out there, you're lucky if you see a *tr4ee*. wg
Wendy M. Grossman (wendyg) Wed 8 Sep 99 12:09
I note that the Kansas thing is engendering a lot of debate in the letters pages here in PA. Someone wrote today that evolution is a theory the way the idea that the sun will come up tomorrow is a theory. wg
Andrew Brown (andrewb) Wed 8 Sep 99 12:50
Yes. the creationists' real problem is not with Darwin, but with Hume. I am trying to get someone to send me over there to write about them but keep getting sidetracked .
Wendy M. Grossman (wendyg) Wed 8 Sep 99 20:21
My friend Barbara here really liked your NS piece on the Kansas decision; thought you had captured the thing elegantly. wg
Andrew Brown (andrewb) Sun 5 Dec 99 06:13
Lovers of good clean fun should hasten over to the evolutionary psychology list at egroups.com (http://www.egroups.com/groups/evolutionary-psychology/info.html) where Professors Dennett and HUmphrey are sharing their opinions of me and my work. So far we haven't got much beyond "sleazy trash journalist" repeated in various permutations; but I'm sure they'll have some more substantial abuse in a while.
Wendy M. Grossman (wendyg) Sun 5 Dec 99 07:20
It seems to be a little complicated: you have to join e-groups, then have to be approved to join the group. wg
David Gans (tnf) Sun 5 Dec 99 10:02
Why are they picking on you, dear andrewb?
An Evolutionary Epistemologist (karunphilip) Sun 5 Dec 99 12:29
> I've heard it said that the language of science is mathematics, > but that's more true of some sciences than of others, and I don't > buy it as a generality. Mathematics is a set of useful tools, but > the language of science is reason. Interesting thread... Andrew I plan to read your book soon. There is an interesting implicit confusion which seems to permeate this subject which seems obvious to me, having been in the Hayek discussion list which is the only other list which seems to have this level of conversation. Let me put it forward for critical review hear and see if it stands up: Evolutionary biology seems to be getting confused with evolutionary epistemology (the theory of knowledge). In "nature" the core axiom boils down to "survival of the fittest". In "nurture", we need to admit the possibility of "imitation of the fittest". The generation length in evolutionary biology is a lifetime. In the arena of thought, it is an instant. A brain may go through potentially infinite evolutionary changes in a single lifetime. The "memetic" process is also therefore not necessarily Darwinian -- it could be Lamarckian or have various other mechanisms that drive it. Analogy to Darwinian theory may be useful ways to gain insights which can then be tested by experimentation, but not necessarily the only methodology. Another important insight to note is the implications of Godel. JR Lucas showed that incompleteness of formal systems in mathematics implied fallibility of formal logic. We try to explain reality -- it is a human instinct. But our explanations may be wrong. Science and "formal theory" borrow meta-mathematical properties to introduce rigor, and hence scientific explanations are less likely to be wrong than non-scientific theories. But even formally logical explanations are fallible because their axioms may be wrong, or at least incomplete. Logic is the theory of science (ref: Husserl) and mathematics is the theory of logic. But all -- mathematics, logic, and science -- are incomplete. Reality outruns our description of it, and always will. Note that these are levels of abstraction: "The apple fell" (historical description) "Apples fall" (theory) "Objects fall" (science) -- we proceed to abstract by removing content. Mathematics is entirely content free. But if mathematics is incomplete as Godel showed, all the rest -- science, theory, explanation (moving downward in terms of abstraction) -- are fallible. Apodictic certainty is not all that Kant cracked it up to be: despite formal completeness a scientific theory may still be fallible, and as Thomas Kuhn showed, that leaves the door open for scientific revolution. Language is primary to dialogue which is the mechanism of evolutionary epistemology. This is analogous to evolutionary biology but completely different from it. In my opinion, all discussions of it would benefit from a realization of the nature of language, logic, and inherent fallibility of Cartesian rationalism, while admiting the power of formal rationalism combined with peer review to mitigate our fallibility.
Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Sun 5 Dec 99 19:31
I'm not sure what you're trying to say, but I don't think bringing Godel's theorem into it helps any. Sure, mathematical models can be wrong, and sometimes it's a mistake to even try to do things mathematically because you don't know enough to get started, but the reasons for that have little to do with formal mathematical completeness.
Andrew Brown (andrewb) Mon 6 Dec 99 06:44
analogies between cultural and biological selection processes are a nightmare. Anyone interested should go off and read David HUll's Science as a Process. One thing I;, reasonably certain of, though, is that no two things can be "analagous and yet completely different". Dan Dennett is pissed off with me becuase he thinks I am lacking in respect for his freinds, possibly for himself as well; or, if that explanaiton is too complicated (and I'm still not quite sure what I did to offend him in the first place) it might just be because he's a cantankerous old git. NIck HUmphrey is upset becasue I trashed in the book a lecture of his on human rights and religion. But we seem to exchanging civilised private emails, so that' progress of a sort.
Wendy M. Grossman (wendyg) Mon 6 Dec 99 07:07
This is not the Nicholas Humphrey who I last heard of teaching parapsychological related stuff at Cambridge, is it? wg
Karun Philip (karunphilip) Mon 6 Dec 99 16:53
Andrew wrote: > One thing I['m] reasonably certain of, though, is that no two > things can be "analagous and yet completely different". True, true. This goes to show that the "ideal type" I had in my mind when writing the words were different from the ideal type you had in your mind when reading them. "Completely different", I can now see is not the right phrase because it implies zero similarity, which is contradicted by the reference to the two things being analogous. What I should have said is that they are substantially different, as witnessed by works such as your reference to Hull. My point is not easy to see but perhaps as I follow this discussion I can point out specific places where we tend go astray, and make my point clearer. The implications of Godel in the area of formal logic is revolutionary, though not yet well recognized. This affect it has on logic has spill-over effect to ordinary dialogue, which are best extricated by the Alfred Schutz methodology of analyzing the difference between the ideal type in the mind and the written word, as I did above. Most disagreements can be resolved and the truth discovered by realizing our mental ideal types are not precisely expressed by the words we write/speak. And all our ideal types are unique idealizations that no one else completely shares. Strict formal logic allows us to get close enough to converse despite differences, though cross-cultural communication takes more discipline than communication within a culture.
Andrew Brown (andrewb) Wed 8 Dec 99 05:04
The Nick HUmphrey is exactly that.
Wendy M. Grossman (wendyg) Sun 12 Dec 99 10:44
Somewhere on one of these lists--either here or e-groups--I ran across a Clarence Darrow quote I can't find again now, something about air and what would happen if it weren't free. I don't know. But if anyone knows or remembers it, please send it along. wg
Andrew Brown (andrewb) Mon 14 Feb 00 07:13
I just wanted to add two notes. the book is now out in paperback in the UK; and Simon and Schuster US will be publishing, or at least distributing adn publicising, it in the US this autumn. There is also, I'm told, a Japanese translation. The rights were sold nine months ago. The check is still in the post.
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Tue 15 Feb 00 11:08
All right, Andrew! Congratulations on the paperback issue!
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