Darwinists Fight Over Niche Construction Theory

first_imgAccording to the Sacramento Bee last week, Roseville teachers who rejected the “Quality Science Education Policy” (see 06/04/2004 headline) did so because “there are no scientifically valid arguments against the theory of evolution.”  They must not be reading Nature.    In the current June 10 issue,1 three scientists say there has long been “vigorous debate” about basic evolutionary theory.  Laland, Odling-Smee and Feldman do not dispute whether evolution occurred, but their “niche construction” approach has touched off “strong and polarized responses” from evolutionists.  Though they consider this “fuss” a comparatively mild “spat” compared to earlier rows over lamarckism, punctuated equilibria and group selection, the theory of niche construction was heretical enough for Darwinist champion Richard Dawkins to term it “pernicious.”  (For more on niche construction, see 10/23/2003 headline fourth item, 03/17/2003 headline, or see its promoters’ website, www.nicheconstruction.com).  The basic idea behind niche construction is that adaptation is a two-way street:At the heart of the controversy lies the nature of causality in evolution.  Adaptation is conventionally seen as a process by which natural selection shapes organisms to fit pre-established environmental ‘templates’.  The causal arrow points in one direction only: it is environments, the source of selection, that determine the features of living creatures.    Yet it is also obvious that organisms bring about changes in environments.  Numerous animals manufacture nests, burrows, holes, webs and pupal cases.  Plants change the levels of atmospheric gases and modify nutrient cycles.  Fungi decompose organic matter, and bacteria engage in decomposition and nutrient fixation.  The standard view of evolution does not deny this, but treats niche construction as no more than the product of selection.    Conversely, from the niche-construction perspective, evolution is based on networks of causation and feedback.  Organisms drive environmental change and organism-modified environments subsequently select organisms.  The argument that niche construction does not play a causal role in evolution because it is partly a product of natural selection, makes no more sense than would the counter-proposal that natural selection can be disregarded because it is partly a product of niche construction.It is this robbing of natural selection of some of its power that seems to anger the conventional Darwinists.  Yet the niche constructionists provide a couple of examples that show how the modified environment must be taken into account when deciding how natural selection operates:“When a beaver builds a dam it not only affects the propagation of dam-building genes, but it must also transform the selection acting on a host of other beaver traits.”“Contemporary earthworms are adapting to a soil environment largely constructed by their ancestors.”First proposed in the 1980s by Richard Lewontin, niche construction was at first largely ignored.  Now, these authors feel it is “a fact of life.”  It is not just man that adapts himself, as Theodosius Dobzhansky used to claim.  All organisms modify the environment that selects their traits; this is a ubiquitous process, and can no longer be disputed.    It seems intuitively obvious.  Why the controversy, then?  Perhaps because niche construction “changes the evolutionary dynamic” and can actually put the brakes on natural selection:Niche construction can create new equilibria, affect the stability of others, generate unusual phenomena, such as momentum effects (where populations continue to evolve in the same direction after selection has stopped or reversed) and inertia effects (a delayed evolutionary response to selection), as well as opposite and catastrophic responses to selection.Such realizations might raise a host of new questions.  Nevertheless, the authors are optimistic, and suggest some fruitful lines of research.  A number of evolutionists are jumping on this bandwagon.  This “alternative panorama” may prove to be a “fleeting fad”; but if not, David Hull’s ominous prophecy may be fulfilled: “the result should be a massive reorientation of evolutionary theory.”1Kevin N. Laland, John Odling-Smee, and Marcus W. Feldman, “Causing a commotion: Niche construction: do the changes that organisms make to their habitats transform evolution and influence natural selection?” Nature 429, 609 (10 June 2004); doi:10.1038/429609a.To be fair before discussing this “spat” among evolutionists, it must be clarified that the parties on both sides are committed naturalists who affirm that unguided, unplanned, purposeless natural processes created humpback whales and hippo sunscreen out of bacteria.  All the combatants would have risen up in holy horror at Roseville to protest the insertion of any doubts about evolution into the biology curriculum.  That being understood, think about this controversy.  What damage does niche construction do to evolutionary theory?  Why would Dawkins call the reasoning “pernicious”?  What do the ongoing intramural battles tell us about the “fact” of evolution?    Each of these internal controversies – whether lamarckism, punctuated equilibria, group selection or niche construction – has questioned the core belief of Darwinists, that Charlie’s mechanism, a simple process so intuitively obvious it elevated bacteria-to-man evolution to the status of accepted truth, is perfectly capable of explaining everything.  Remember, it was the discovery of a plausible mechanism of evolution that made Charlie famous.  Apparently, quite a few evolutionists do not consider it all that plausible.  The fundamentalist Darwinists insist Charlie’s original dogma must be kept sacrosanct (see 05/31/2004 headline).  Yet ever since Darwin, heretical views have threatened the integrity of the myth.  Lamarckism is pretty much dead, falsified by experiment (even though Darwin himself became more Lamarckian in his old age—see February 2004 bio of Kelvin).  The radical view called punctuated equilibria arose because the fossil record, with its systematic gaps, did not support Darwinian gradualism.  Group selection was a sect that cast doubt on Darwin’s orthodoxy of individual selection.  We could add to the list the heresies of sympatric speciation and neo-Gaia.  Now, the cult of niche construction tends to complicate Dawkins’ life by telling him that the vectors of natural selection and the environment interact in complex ways, often opposing each other (see 03/17/2003 headline).    Whichever you think is the best storytelling plot, let’s ask some serious questions about this article and its relevance to the heated arguments occurring at school board meetings all around America, both in big cities and small towns, about the teaching of evolution.  Do you feel that any of the Darwin Party storytellers has a real, defensible, comprehensive account of how bacteria evolved into humans?  If so, why is it controversial to other evolutionists?  Why are the controversies heated enough for them to call each other names and question each others’ motives?  Has any of them provided a detailed account, with all the transitions that would be required, to explain the emergence of a single complex organ?  (See 08/20/2003 headline.)  Have the newly-acquired genomes of dozens of different organisms fulfilled what Darwinists predicted?  (See 06/09/2004 and 01/02/2003 headlines.)  Has the fossil record filled in the gaps that Darwin himself acknowledged were a major problem for his theory?  (See 06/02/2004 headline.)  Is there any reason why the eyes and ears of high school students should be shielded from these controversies and failings of Darwin’s theory?  Do these controversies have anything to do with Christianity or any other religion?  If not, why is the mantra “separation of church and state” invoked to subvert proposals for honest discussion about problems with evolutionary theory?  Can you think of any other reason, other than a sincere desire to educate students honestly, that the ACLU, the National Center for Science Education, and other Darwinist front groups are so adamant that no scientific criticisms of Darwinism are permissible in the schools?  If you engaged in these mental exercises, you just committed the very crime the Darwin-only side is trying to prevent.  You utilized critical thinking skills.(Visited 55 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Video: Joel Stave Misses On Crucial 4th Down Throw, Iowa Wins Heartland Trophy

first_imgWisconsin flag bearer runs across the field.LINCOLN, NE – OCTOBER 07: A cheerleader for the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates a score against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium on October 7, 2017 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)Wisconsin entered the season as Big Ten West favorites, but after this afternoon’s game, things in that division have been thrown for a loop. The Iowa Hawkeyes pulled off an upset of the No. 19 Badgers in Madison, winning the Heartland Trophy for the first time since 2009. Wisconsin had a chance to take the lead, but Joel Stave fired incomplete on a 4th & 2, looking for tight end Troy Fumagalli on the play.Not the best throw here pic.twitter.com/bsIn9uOFBm— Dan Lyons (@Dan_Lyons76) October 3, 2015He looked for a pass interference call, and there was some contact, but the refs held their flags, and Iowa was able to take a knee and win the game.The Heartland Trophy comes BACK to Iowa City! #IOWAvsWIS I’m done bragging now. pic.twitter.com/di1hbirdu1— Y2Jason Strasburg (@Strasconsin) October 3, 2015Iowa is 5-0 with the win, and a favorable schedule ahead. This year could be a big one for Kirk Ferentz and his Hawkeyes.last_img read more

Triyards to Deliver Loss for Q3

first_imgzoom Singapore-based Triyards Holdings Limited informed that it expects to report a net loss for the third quarter of the 2017 fiscal year ended May 31.In the company’s profit guidance, released with respect to the unaudited consolidated financial results for the quarter, Triyards’ board said that expected quarterly net loss is mainly attributable to the continued depressed state of oil & gas industry and downturn of the marine and offshore market.The loss would represent a turnaround compared to the earnings recorded in the corresponding period of the previous financial year, according to Triyards.Additionally, the company said that it applied to the Singapore Exchange Securities Trading Limited seeking from the SGX-ST an extension of time to announce the unaudited consolidated financial results of the group for the third quarter ended May 31, 2017.Due to continued depressed state of oil & gas industry, “management is of the opinion that the group should rationalize and reassess the carrying value of certain assets of the group which were acquired or developed previously with plan to deploy for new projects or business ventures related to oil and gas industry.”last_img read more

If Mattas recruits would have stayed in school

What if?It is one of the most popular questions among sports fans. It allows us to ponder certain scenarios or outcomes involving our favorite sports, teams and players.With last week’s game against Purdue, people asked what if the Buckeyes had called a timeout after rebounding the Boilermaker’s missed free throw in the waning seconds?What if calling that timeout would have set up a better chance for Ohio State to tie the game and send it into overtime?This question has led me to think of another scenario that most of Buckeye land wished would have happened.What if Thad Matta’s recruits hadn’t bolted to the NBA after one year on campus?What if they had all stayed at least one more year?Why couldn’t Greg Oden, Mike Conley and Daequan Cook all return for their sophomore campaigns? The year before we saw a highly talented group of sophomores at Florida win a National Championship, only to announce to the country they were coming back to school to do it again.This was an Ohio State team that had just breezed through its Big Ten schedule on its way to a No. 1 seed and an NCAA Championship appearance.Imagine that core of players returning with Jamar Butler, Othello Hunter and then-highly touted incoming freshman Kosta Koufos.There is no doubt that this team would have won the National Championship and possibly finished with an undefeated season.One can wonder how many nights Thad Matta has cried himself to sleep, reflecting on the potential team he could have had if all three elite players decided to stay in school.Let’s break down the following two seasons.With Koufos staying for at least one more year, the Buckeyes would have had another dominant season in the post with BJ Mullens joining the team as the latest five-star recruit under Matta. Koufos would flourish with his outside game as Mullens and Dallas Lauderdale provided depth down low.This squad, which fell in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last year, would at worst make it the Sweet 16 in this “what if” reality.For this current season, OSU would most likely lose Koufos to the draft but would retain Mullens for another season. After showing flashes of potential in his freshman year, Mullens would flourish during his sophomore season by living up to his recruiting hype.This, coupled with the emergence of Evan Turner as a National Player of the Year candidate, would have instantly made Ohio State Big Ten favorites and a major Final Four contender.So if Matta’s major recruits had just stayed one more year, the basketball culture at Ohio State would be dramatically different. They would have produced a National Championship-caliber squad one season and have two other squads make possibly deep tournament runs. With another top-rated recruiting class also coming to Ohio State this fall, Matta would have created a basketball powerhouse that would be among the elites for several years.But as they say, hindsight is always 20/20.So, snapping back to reality, Matta has had to deal with five of his players leaving for the draft after one season. He still had success, winning the NIT in 2007 and reaching the NCAA Tournament in 2008.But even with his squad this season currently fielding a Top 10 ranking, we all sometimes find ourselves asking the same question.What if? read more

BREAKING Emiliano Salas plane has been found

BREAKING Emiliano Salas plane has been found

first_imgThe wreckage of the light aircraft in which Argentinean footballer Emiliano Sala and English pilot David Ibbotson has been found.After almost two weeks without any sign, the wreckage of the light aircraft that carried Cardiff City’s Argentinean footballer Emiliano Sala and English pilot David Ibbotson has been found in the English Channel.According to David Mearns, a marine scientist in charge of the private search, the wreckage of the Piper Malibu aircraft has been detected in the bottom of the ocean.“Wreckage of the plane carrying Emiliano Sala and piloted by David Ibbotson was located early this morning by the FPV MORVEN,” Mearns wrote on Twitter.“As agreed with the AAIB [Air Accidents Investigation Branch] they moved the GEO OCEAN III over the position we provided them to visually identify the plane by ROV. #EmilianoSala.”“The families of Emiliano Sala and David Ibbotson have been notified by Police,” he added.“The AAIB will be making a statement tomorrow.”Harry Maguire, Manchester UnitedLiverpool legend Nicol slams Harry Maguire’s Man United form Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Steve Nicol believes Harry Maguire has made some “horrendous mistakes” recently, and has failed to find his best form since joining Manchester United.“Tonight our sole thoughts are with the families and friends of Emiliano and David,” he concluded.The small aircraft disappeared on January 21st while it was traveling from Nantes, France, to the Welsh capital of Cardiff.The findings come after authorities gave up after almost four days of search, and a GoFundMe campaign was founded to find the aircraft.Wreckage of the plane carrying Emiliano Sala and piloted by David Ibbotson was located early this morning by the FPV MORVEN. As agreed with the AAIB they moved the GEO OCEAN III over the position we provided them to visually identify the plane by ROV. #EmilianoSala— David Mearns (@davidlmearns) February 3, 2019last_img read more