Education Law and Evolution

| 26 Comments

Wildernesse (Tiffany) is a beautiful law student who just happens to be married to a handsome evolutionary biologist. Today in her class on education law they discussed evolution and creationism. She has written about it on her blog, go check it out.

Oh well. I wish people were more educated. I’m not even well-educated on this subject, but I know that a lot of what is spouted off out there is nonsense. (My definition of well-educated for laypersons is whether you can explain a frequency-dependent selection model, a phylogenetic tree, and why humans are taxonomically classified as an ape. If you can’t do those things, what makes you think you know enough? I am arbitrary and I love it.) I wish people didn’t feel they had to cram their religious beliefs into a stunted mold and become blind to the utterly awe-inspiring natural mechanisms of our world. Let God out of the box.

26 Comments

(My definition of well-educated for laypersons is whether you can explain a frequency-dependent selection model, a phylogenetic tree, and why humans are taxonomically classified as an ape.”

Well, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad, is it? I think I could muddle through the 2nd and 3rd question, but I’m not sure what the f.-d. s. model is.

Henry

Wildernesse (Tiffany) is a beautiful law student

Unsupported claim. Got evidence?

PBS had a wonderful documentary on Albert Einstein’s “miracle year” in a docudrama format. Very well-acted. And they often emphasized how the religious beliefs of the scientists perfectly complimented their investigations about how the universe works. In Richard Feynman’s case, using scientific experimentation and intellect to illuminate God’s creation.

IDers and Creationists want to put God back into the dark.

Feynman was an atheist.

Well she said it herself, she doesn’t know that much on the subject.

“Ignorance is bliss”

She doesn’t know, shes believes. There is a difference.

Pardon. Not Feynman. It’s Michael Faraday. I must have misremembered because their last names both begin with the same letter. Reference here.

Jeff wrote

Well she said it herself, she doesn’t know that much on the subject.

“Ignorance is bliss”

She doesn’t know, shes believes. There is a difference.

And there’s a difference between justified belief and unjustified belief. As it happens, she knows someone who knows this stuff very well, and has good reason to trust that person’s knowledge and judgment in these matters. She also clearly takes the trouble to inform herself well beyond the usual lay level (e.g., about frequency-dependent selection models) so as to be able to make informed judgments of who to trust as a reliable authority.

I know some things very well, others less well, and others not at all. For the first, I tend to trust my own judgment, informed by my consultation with other professionals. For the second, I tend to trust professionals whose expertise exceeds my own but where I have some basis in knowledge to judge who that is. For the third, I trust hardly anyone until I’ve informed myself somewhat about the subject matter, using the ‘mainstream’ as my orienting perspective in acquiring that knowledge. Justified beliefs of the second and third kinds are inevitable for beings who are not omniscient.

RBH

RBH writes: I know some things very well, others less well, and others not at all. For the first, I tend to trust my own judgment, informed by my consultation with other professionals. For the second, I tend to trust professionals whose expertise exceeds my own but where I have some basis in knowledge to judge who that is. For the third, I trust hardly anyone until I’ve informed myself somewhat about the subject matter, using the ‘mainstream’ as my orienting perspective in acquiring that knowledge. Justified beliefs of the second and third kinds are inevitable for beings who are not omniscient.

Well said. And if Jeff doesn’t grasp the point I would ask him this: If he were diagnosed with cancer, would he “believe” the three doctors of medical science who told him that if he followed XYZ protocol he had an 80% chance of beating it, or would he go to a faith healer? Are both choices merely an arbitrary matter of “belief”? Or can he discern a critical difference between Options 1 and 2?

“‘…organized religion, the formalities and routines, it’s like being marched in formation to look at a sunset.’” [Travis McGee] - John D. MacDonald, A Deadly Shade of Gold

henry said: “I’m not sure what the f.-d. s. model is.” I was thinking the same thing when I read that. I make a small living on comparative genomics, but I still don’t know what that term is. I guess I’ll have to google it.

I have used those ideas in my “test” before on different discussion boards because most laypeople don’t know what they are. I see that I’ve stumped even some of you–which is great, since the purpose is to show that there’s much more to evolution than the entry-level ideas of natural selection and common descent.

Frequency-dependent selection models are what Marjorie Asmussen did, and I worked in her lab for a while, so the term is familiar to me–just like cytonuclear disequilibria–but I certainly am ignorant on these topics.

If you want to check out some of my reseach on frequency-dependent selection, here is a paper: http://www.genetics.org/cgi/content[…]ll/167/1/499.

Bandy the term about and you get a link to a paper on it, from the author no less…

Man, do I ever love this site.

Okay, I get it now. The “fitness” of a type can depend on what fraction of the species is made up of that type. So if a type is more “fit” while relatively rare, it gets maintained in the population, but doesn’t spread because spreading would reduce its fitness? Whew.

Henry

F - D - S

Reed A. Cartwright, thank you for the link. I knew it sounded very familiar and I was working it out in my head and then you arrived for the rescue. It is all coming back now.

Coincidentally, I originally learned about the topic at the University of Idaho. Home to a new creationist contrived conctroversy.

Chad Rawlins Science teacher with a free period.

IIRC, fds is no new idea; it’s simply the mathematics behind the idea that in any population, the prevalence of any given behavior in the next generation is entirely dependent on the current fitness of any competing behaviors. I personally am most familiar with how this has been applied to the observation of stable multiple mating strategies in some species.

I won’t go into details here, but there have been some very fun and interesting applications in Ichthyology (my area of specialty). For example in some labrids (wrasses - kind of a cigar-shaped fish with a lot of species), you can find in one population at least 3 different mating strategies:

-“standard” polygamous nesting behavior, with the males caring for eggs deposited in a nest by single or multiple females -“sneaking” where some males mimic females and invade nesting males to fertilize some female eggs as they are deposited. -“piracy” where some extremely large males boot successful nesting males off of their nest temporarily, mate a bit, then let the original male have their nests back to take care of the pirate’s eggs for them.

How on earth are three such disparate mating strategies maintained within a single population? simple: frequency dependent selection! there were some excellent papers published on these subjects that appeared in Nature and other places in the late 80’s/early 90’s out of the Warner lab at the University of CA Santa Barbara.

It’s studies like these and those done by Reed that demonstrate the value of evolutionary theory in making new predictions and explaining what would normally be considered “odd” behavior.

It never ceases to amaze me how those who subscibe to an “ID” method limit themselves; there are no new predicitons nor any value that can be garnered from utilizing the ID method, period. it’s such an obvious dead end, that nobody in their right mind could think it anything other than politically motivated. apologetics for the inane, basically.

continuing the rant portion… it reminds me of the movie “Amadeus” where Salieri claims himself to be “the patron saint of mediocrity” and must destroy extreme talent at all costs.

the re-election of GW shows me that most of america seeks such a patron of mediocrity to represent themselves, at the expense of talent and intelligence.

the election of Lay by shareholders to CEO of Enron was similar. As was the election of Shwarzenegger to gov. of CA, or Jesse Ventura to MN.

popular media constantly portray the intelligent as “geeks” and losers, fomenting continuing interest in mediocrity at the expense of the very quality of life we have come to expect.

pathetic how low the average american has sunk, and how willing they are to see the Amadeus’ punished and marginalized in order to back the Salieris’.

From what i can gather, this anti-intelligencia attitude is less common in almost every other industrialized nation.

do we just watch too much tv, or what?

sir_toejam I respect your opinion but I’m wondering if you fully understand the people you are attacking. James Janos, a.k.a. Jesse Ventura, while a media personality and former WWF wrestler is not a stupid man. Neither is Schwarzenegger. Neither their media persona, nor their athletic background, precludes them from also being intelligent. Ventura for one might have ideals that don’t line up with the political parties but those are some of his strengths. He does not compromise his personal beliefs to please the press etc. While he might not fit your definition of “intelligent” and you may wish to actually look at his political positions and decide what you do and do not like about this, and other individuals. In my view a politician does not need to be a highly intelligent. I’d rather have politicians that are of above average intelligent with strong convictions and not afraid to speak their mind, as Ventura is. Perhaps its because I’m in a similar situation as he was. I consider myself smart. I’ve never finished university because of my deployments while serving for the USMC from 88-94. If you disagree with some of his educational policies think of where he and many others have come from. He worked for his education in more ways then one and he believes that higher education should be worked for not given out at the expense of the tax payer. He would most certainly disagree with the education system here in Australia and in some ways so do I.

I don’t think just because someone was in an entertainment roll for many years like Ventura that it automatically makes them stupid. Look at the life that these people have come from and where they have gone and done and then decide for yourself if the individual deserves your respect.

reverse that and ask yourself, “did the voters elect ventura and schwarzenegger because of their intellect or their experience?”

you can’t fool yourself that much, eh?

besides which, it’s not their personal intelligence i question (I do question their political savvy, however), but rather the reasons the voters put them in office. perhaps you misinterpreted the point i was making.

yes, i DO follow their politics.

I live in CA, and examined Arnie’s politics quite a bit before he ever decided to make a run for the governor’s seat. I was a little shocked to see him switch so completely in his views when offered money to run and an opportunity to get the seat via back-door tactics designed by the far right in CA to put a republican back in the gov. chair.

so, yes, i’m sure i could understand these individuals better, and you are quite right to point out that any individual probably should not be overgeneralized as i had done above, but wonder no longer if i understand them at all.

do you understand the history of voters picking celebrities for office in the US, and why? that is what i was getting at. the growing trend in this country to vote for the unqualified and inexperienced (and yes, just plain dumb in some cases). Is that clearer?

perhaps i should have boiled it down to a far simpler choice:

bush/kerry - which do you think had the better qualifications to run an entire country?

bush:

ran 3 major businesses his daddy gave him promptly into the ground (never actually ran a successful business - er, and still hasn’t :) ).

never had political experience before being “installed” as governor of Texas due to some brilliant but underhanded tactics by Karl Rove.

Kerry:

real vet.

ran several successful businesses

member of congress for 30 years.

hmmm.

a tough choice on the face of it?? hardly.

this is what i am talking about.

oh, and btw, nobody every called salieri “stupid”, yet he was still a mediocre composer, eh?

Sorry for not getting your meaning I agree with you. Kerry was actually my first vote for democrat. I missed the previous election but probably would have voted for GWB, which in hind sight I would have regretted.

I agree the voters are not that great but its what we have to deal with. Do we make voters take tests before voting? I think not and don’t think it would change things. Kerry while a great candiate has problems as a politician. He talks above the majority of voters. He didn’t make things simple for the simple minded people.

What we need is a mind like kerry, conviction like kerry and Ventura, an ability to talk to the common people like Ventura. Not putting Ventura down to his intellect but I think Kerry is much more of a thinker. Either way I’d vote for Ventura or Kerry in a election over a GWB or the like.

Once agian sorry for my misunderstanding.

Do we make voters take tests before voting?

hmm, i could easily argue that we do in fact (though the timing is a little off :) ). it’s called social studies, history, ethics classes, etc. etc. In fact, we don’t allow folks to vote before they are 18 so we can make sure they do know something, at least

the same kinds of things we require non-naturalized citizens to learn in order to gain citizenship, but to an even greater extent in most cases.

so yeah, we kinda do require voters to take tests before voting.

which gets us back to the question i posed… do we just watch too much TV, or what? what is it exactly that contributes so much to the dumbing down of the average voter? is it a lack of stressing the importance of actually KNOWING history, ethics, politics and science in order to make informed decsions? is it just general laziness? Is it some adherence to an illusory religiuous standard? what?

. He talks above the majority of voters.

So does Bill Nye The Science Guy. (shrug)

The majority of voters are pig-ignorant morons who are easily led by the nose.

Alas, in a democracy, we get exactly the sort of government that we deserve. We collectively have no one to blame but ourselves.

“From what i can gather, this anti-intelligencia attitude is less common in almost every other industrialized nation.”

I’m not sure why America’s so anti-intellectual. Maybe in part because of some intellectuals’ support for Communism and Socialism in the 20th century? Just a guess.

care to flesh that idea out a bit Steve? Are you sure you want to?

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This page contains a single entry by Reed A. Cartwright published on October 13, 2005 12:58 PM.

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