Miscellany (General)

by dhw, Friday, May 21, 2021, 13:55 (158 days ago) @ David Turell

Different types of neurons
DAVID: What this means is that when we discuss as 150 cc enlargement from erectus to sapiens we cannot know if some different kind of functional neuron was added to sapiens. So we know quantity but not true quality of the addition.[…]

dhw: […] What would be the purpose of new neurons if they had no purpose???

DAVID: What we don't know is if sapiens some different specialized neurons of greater reasoning capacity than erectus. 150 cc enlargement doesn't tell us.

dhw: I agree that we don't know what new function the new neurons performed, but I can only repeat the question above. I find it hard to believe that new neurons were added to the brain for no reason.

DAVID: The extra ones sapiens got caused the present civilization to appear.

Well, I must say this is a remarkable volte face from your previous insistence that the new neurons had no function and were jettisoned 2500 years later – but in fairness, you had already rejected that. Now, however, within a single exchange, after “we cannot know if the new neurons added a different function”, they have become so essential that our whole civilization depends on them. I will go back to my original proposal: the new neurons would not have been added if they had not performed a new function. We don’t know what that was, and we don’t know which neurons were discarded when enhanced complexification took over from expansion.

Species differentiation
"If you ask ten biologists, you will get twelve different answers," Sukumaran said." (DAVID's bold)

DAVID: We don't understand how speciation happens, and this problem of minor differences cannot be decided by splitter or lumper dispositions of researchers. Darwin's finches come to mind, all based on beak size.

dhw: Darwin also discusses the “difficulty of distinction between Varieties and Species” and I agree with you: variations in beak sizes do not solve the problem of how “species” – as opposed to varieties – evolve. I think “organisms capable of interbreeding” may be the closest we can get to a satisfactory definition of "species".

DAVID: Hybridization is certainly one way.

For the definition, I was thinking in terms of eagle versus elephant versus herring versus ant….What would your own definition be?

Giant black hole
DAVID: Our massive universe contains some massive fireworks. dhw has wondered in the past why God created all these events when all He wanted was humans. I don't know and I don't wonder. I assume God did this for His own reasons and they are a reasonable part of the process.

This is the process whereby someone has a theory and “assumes” that everything will be found to fit in with it, which of course is the process behind preconceptions and prejudices. In relation to God, it raises the question you asked so eloquently elsewhere: “Why do humans guess at God's designs before they have the full story?”

Fly vision and maneuvers
QUOTE: “Flies predict changes in their visual environment in order to execute evasive maneuvers, according to new research from the University of Chicago. This reliance on predictive information to guide behavior suggests that prediction may be a general feature of animal nervous systems in supporting quick behavioral changes.

I don’t understand what is so special here. If we or the fly don’t predict what is about to happen, we or it won’t be able to avoid the danger! That applies to all forms of life. “Feedback from sensory systems” will have to be processed at lightning speed if the danger is close at hand. How do the researchers know that it isn't?

Fungi helped plants
QUOTES: “450 million years ago, the first plants left aquatic life. Researchers have now succeeded in demonstrating that this colonization of land by plants was made possible by a partnership between plants and fungi.”
“Most plants live in symbiosis with fungi, whereby the two organisms exchange resources in a mutually beneficial way.”

DAVID: How did plants latch onto fungi? Luck or design? Looks designed to me.

Under “different species cooperate” I wrote: “One moment you fully accept their intelligence, and the next you reduce it to instinct and simple reasoning. […] What I do not accept is your constant attempt to downplay the intelligence of our fellow creatures, in order to support your belief that your always-in-control God preprogrammes or dabbles every evolutionary innovation, strategy, solution, natural wonder etc."

Whether God designed the original cells or not, it seems to me that the basis of plant and animal evolution has been cooperation between cells. In view of your occasional “full” acceptance that some of our fellow animals are actually “very intelligent”, I’m surprised that you cannot bring yourself to accept that maybe – it’s only a theory – the earliest forms of life (e.g. plants, fungi, bacteria) might also be intelligent, albeit on a far lower level.


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