Human Nature, by James Trefil: Review PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 30 September 2014 17:12

In my review I useTrefil’s book to make a point: believing in natural selection does matter, if you’re James Trefil. “given that we have the ability to manage our planet, what will we manage it for? When I go through the exercise of asking how the planet should be managed, I come up with a very simple rule: The global ecosystem should be managed for the benefit, broadly conceived, of human beings. I call this the benefit-to-humans principle.” Why it matters what James Trefil believes is, he’s a fellow of the World Economic Forum. Full review...

Review: Origin of Species, 6th edition PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 13 September 2014 12:19

Origins impresses me as the labor of a supremely gifted naturalist unaware of his deficiencies as a scientist. His strategy to validate his claims is invariably to amass illustrations.  "To treat this subject properly a long list of dry facts ought to be given." "This subject... can be treated properly only by giving long catalogues of facts." The great mass of examples he provides  in support of his claims can tend to disguise the thinness of his arguments but it can't by itself validate them. Full review.

Evolution of a ventriloquist--sample audio file PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 13 August 2014 15:29

I'm working up a ventriloquism performance. Volunteer to be an early tester? I've posted 30-minute audio file here. If you try it, please do tell me what you think of it--that's the deal. Respond to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Consciousness and the Social Brain, Michael Graziano, Review PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 08 August 2014 11:28

"Awareness is a description of attention.… I use the word [attention] in a neuroscientific sense. I am referring to a mechanistic process in the brain.... According to the theory, the statement “X is conscious” means “a brain (or other computational device) constructed an informational model of consciousness and attributed it to X.” Thus begins my review of Graziano's book.

What to account for PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 08 July 2014 14:00

What must a theory of evolution account for? Mulling over that I had a brief attack of vertigo. What are living creatures? Dizzyingly complex somethings, of which I know next to nothing. Yet that I must know before I can say how they evolve. Bodies are structured increasingly precisely down the the nano scale. They routinely grow from single cells to trillions of cells in tissues precisely structured over distances of up to dozens of feet. The matter in those tissues is turned over several times a year even as those tissues continue to function, without impairment of that function. Living creatures can manifest volition, can become conscious, and express their conscious thoughts in their behaviors. Can these various capabilities be imagined evolving separately, or should they all be accountable for in terms of a single process? Darwin's example won't help us here, he was concerned only with the origin of species. We are condemned by how much more we know to tackle much more daunting questions. So many centuries of study will it take even to begin to understand life that I feel like no more than a tiny ant questioning the origin of the solar system.

I hope I feel better tomorrow. Can anyone help me?

A physicalist or a dualist theory of evolution? PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 07 July 2014 11:37

As someone who in his early manhood was a physicalist, I know how it feels, that rapture of seeing everything as purely physical, even ourselves, even how all of nature evolved. But in middle age I settled for the common-sense view of ourselves as “volitional” creatures, so now I’d prefer a theory of evolution in accordance with common-sense dualism. We can account for evolution with either a physicalist or a dualist theory, the choice is really one of temperament. But when the temperamental divide is as wide as that between physicalists and dualists it’s hard to reach agreement. So I propose we negotiate. Like this:

Majority welcomes alternatives to Darwin PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 22 June 2014 14:36

In our poll to the right, 22 responding welcomed alternatives to Darwinism and creationism, 9 voted for Creationism, 3 shunned any criticism of Darwinism.

Evolution as Religion: Mary Midgley. Review. PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 22 June 2014 14:26

As we back away from the modern synthesis (see and join the early pioneers in looking to evolution for new meaning, we will need adult help in reigning in our natural enthusiasm for all-encompassing theories of everything, based usually on very little. Fortunately, in Mary Midgley’s book (published 1985), we have it. More...

Open letter to Institute for Cultural Evolution PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 30 April 2014 10:39

I am impressed by the intelligent treatment of issues in the ICE Evolutionary Worldview document of December 2012. I like the grounds for discussion, I don’t agree but I have no specific changes to suggest. I write merely to give feedback, because the issues matter to me, too.

I see your policies and philosophy as those of Hegel, who you credit.... [But] To me you seem to accept postmodern values without any justification, merely because they appear to succeed “modern” values. More...

Modern evolutionary theory is mythical PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 24 February 2014 19:00

"...So I regard the modern synthesis as not theory based on science, but an origin story based on mythical entities. Then the most appropriate questions are, what natural philosophy is being supported by the story, and what is its relation to our other origin stories?"  More...

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