Have we learned anything of value from the "science" of evolution?

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by rdean, Jun 17, 2011.

  1. rdean
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    rdean rddean

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    National-Academies.org | Newsroom

    Understanding evolution is essential to identifying and treating disease," said Harvey Fineberg, president of IOM. "For example, the SARS virus evolved from an ancestor virus that was discovered by DNA sequencing. Learning about SARS' genetic similarities and mutations has helped scientists understand how the virus evolved. This kind of knowledge can help us anticipate and contain infections that emerge in the future."

    DNA sequencing and molecular biology have provided a wealth of information about evolutionary relationships among species. As existing infectious agents evolve into new and more dangerous forms, scientists track the changes so they can detect, treat, and vaccinate to prevent the spread of disease.

    Evolution not only best explains the biodiversity on Earth, it also helps scientists predict what they are likely to discover in the future.

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    Science was primitive in Darwin’s day. Ships had no engines. Not until 1842, six years after Darwin’s Beagle voyage, did Richard Owen coin the term “dinosaur.” Darwin was an adult before scientists began debating whether germs caused disease and whether physicians should clean their instruments. In 1850s London, John Snow fought cholera unaware that bacteria caused it. Not until 1857 did Johann Carl Fuhlrott and Hermann Schaaffhausen announce that unusual bones from the Neander Valley in Germany were perhaps remains of a very old human race. In 1860 Louis Pasteur performed experiments that eventually disproved “spontaneous generation,” the idea that life continually arose from nonliving things.

    Charles Darwin didn’t invent a belief system. He had an idea, not an ideology. The idea spawned a discipline, not disciples. He spent 20-plus years amassing and assessing the evidence and implications of similar, yet differing, creatures separated in time (fossils) or in space (islands). That’s science.

    Almost everything we understand about evolution came after Darwin, not from him. He knew nothing of heredity or genetics, both crucial to evolution. Evolution wasn’t even Darwin’s idea.

    But our understanding of how life works since Darwin won’t swim in the public pool of ideas until we kill the cult of Darwinism. Only when we fully acknowledge the subsequent century and a half of value added can we really appreciate both Darwin’s genius and the fact that evolution is life’s driving force, with or without Darwin.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/10/science/10essa.html

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    Quantifying the Importance of Evolution

    Recently a concerned parent asked NCSE for advice because her child's science teacher planned to skip the textbook chapter on evolution in order to avoid conflict with a creationist student who was very vocal about his views. Besides offering the teacher support for teaching evolution, this parent wanted to provide the teacher with solid information about how to teach evolution well, and the reasons it is important to teach evolution.

    Still, for a classroom teacher who is being pressed not to teach evolution, it may be necessary to give a very concrete, practical answer to the question, "What harm is done if my child doesn't study evolution?" And the answer is, "S/he can't possibly score well on the College Board biology exams," (also known as "subject SAT tests".)

    National Academy of Science in 1996 list five "Unifying Concepts and Processes" underlying all scientific disciplines:

    Systems, order, and organization
    Evidence, models, and explanation
    Change, constancy, and measurement
    Evolution and equilibrium
    Form and Function
    (National Academy of Science, 1996)

    The proportion of the test devoted to "Population Biology" makes up 33% of a student's score, and includes questions on "Principles of evolution: History of evolutionary concepts, Lamarckian and Darwinian theories; Adaptive radiation; Major features of plant and animal evolution; Concepts of homology and analogy; Convergence, extinction, balanced polymorphism, genetic drift ; Classification of living organisms; Evolutionary history of humans." Related concepts - about Mendelian and modern genetics, for example - are included in other portions of the test. (All the foregoing quotations are excerpted from test descriptions at the College Board Online web site at
    College Admissions - SAT - University & College Search Tool

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    For the purposes of this installment, it may be helpful to remember that the term microevolution generally refers to evolutionary changes taking place within populations and species , and the term macroevolution refers to the major evolutionary trends which have marked higher order splits and junctures at or above the species level and taking place over the whole long history of evolution on earth. The phenomenon of speciation (the emergence of a new species out of an ancestor species) is the focus of this installment, because it is in a sense the key "bridge" linking the kind of evolutionary changes which we can observe happening all the time within populations and the kind of qualitative splits and ruptures which mark the start of a whole new evolutionary line , such as a new Family or Order , and which begin with particular speciation events, or with rapid "bursts" of such events.

    (microevolution doesn't mean germs)

    The Science of Evolution (part-4) Ardea Skybreak

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    The most obvious examples of evolutionary biology's importance to medical understanding are related to infectious disease [7]. As Jon Laman (Erasmus University, The Netherlands) pointed out at the meeting, the immune system provides the perfect platform to explain the medical relevance of the exquisite evolutionary relationships between pathogens and their hosts. Understanding how virulence evolves, for example, can help predict the potential, sometimes counterintuitive (and controversial) negative consequences of imperfect vaccination [8,9]. But evolution can also tell us that the origin of HIV was precipitated by a jump across the primate species barrier [10] and enables us to predict the imminent arrival of avian flu and the mutations most likely to be responsible for that evolutionary leap from birds to humans [11]. Where epidemiological and population genetic processes occur on the same time scale, the emerging field of "phylodyamics" can also inform us about the timing and progression of pathogen adaptation more generally [12].
    The relevance of evolution to medicine is, however, much broader. Participants at the York meeting discussed not only how vulnerability to cancer is an inevitable but unfortunate consequence of imperfect human engineering and natural selection (Mel Greaves, Institute of Cancer Research, UK) [Ed. note: Orac discussed Mel Greaves' recent article in Nature Reviews Cancer about this very topic while refuting Dr. Egnor.], but how life history theory can potentially explain patterns of pregnancy loss (Virginia Vitzthum, Indiana University), how a comparative approach applied to different human cultures and different primates can improve rates of breastfeeding (Helen Ball, University of Durham), whether clinical depression has an adaptive origin (Lewis Wolpert, University College London), and if suicide attempts are really just evolutionary bargaining chips in intense social disputes (Ed Hagen, Humboldt University).

    Medicine and Evolution, Part 10: "Intelligent design" creationists misrepresenting the role of evolution in medicine : Respectful Insolence

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    Now let's look at the top 10 "scientific discoveries" we've learned from "Mystical Creation" in order of importance:

    1.

    2.

    3.

    4.

    5.

    6.

    7.

    8.

    9.

    10.

    Anyone who wants to, please fill in the numbers. Because I couldn't find a single thing.

    Just the fact that if we want to continue higher education in any scientific field of study, we must learn about evolution. That's the number one reason to study evolution and the related sciences.
     
  2. whitehall
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    whitehall Gold Member

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    The thing of it is Dean that we don't live in the utopian world (thank God) of radical academic one sided restrictive liberalism. Americans should be free to consider Creationism while the academic world concentrates on genetic mutations in lower life forms and the origin of the species. Teaching Creationism in schools is not a threat to the world of liberalism as we know it. Kids will still be learning how to put a condom on a cucumber. Relax lefties.
     
  3. rdean
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    rdean rddean

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    radical academic one sided restrictive liberalism

    So, you are saying that adding an "occult" angle to "science" demonstrates true intellectualism?

    Teaching children to "question" is science.

    Teaching children to question the validity of science while introducing a "mystical" aspect is, for lack of a better word, "stupid". Why should they bother when their parents tell them scientists are "wrong" and "God did it"?

    If there is evidence for the occult, prove it. And yes Virginia, it really is "just that simple".
     
  4. Big Black Dog
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    Big Black Dog Gold Member Supporting Member

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    Have we learned anything of value from the "science" of evolution?

    Well, if we had evolved from anything other than a monkey, we probably wouldn't be so fucked up now.
     
  5. rdean
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    rdean rddean

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    Having a common ancestor doesn't mean we "evolved" from a monkey. Sigh.
     
  6. whitehall
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    whitehall Gold Member

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    Don't get goofy about it. Children will be still be taught how to put a condom on a cucumber and they will forget Charlie Darwin's theories as quick as they forget the difference between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
     
  7. rdean
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    rdean rddean

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    How long ago did Charles Darwin die? Have there been any discoveries since then?
     
  8. geauxtohell
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    geauxtohell Choose your weapon.

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    Why teach theology in science class?

    The issue isn't that it's a "threat", the issue is that it's off topic.

    Maybe, when we stop sucking at math and science, we'll have the luxury to deal with esoterics.

    For the time being, let's stick with the basics.
     
  9. rdean
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    rdean rddean

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    When right wingers tell their children that scientists are lying and the "occult" is real, it contaminates ALL of education. Why go study something your parents tell you is a lie. If that's a lie, then it's all a lie. And controlled by "liberal teachers". So don't learn it. It's "elitist" and much, much too "intellectual". And we know how much the right hates those "elitist intellectuals".

    This is what Republicans "teach".

    Believing that prayer is the only way to solve America's problems, Texas Gov. and potential GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry is inviting all U.S. governors and Christian leaders to join a prayer rally in Houston later this summer.

    Rick Perry Invites US Governors to 'Prayer and Fasting' Rally, Christian News

    Gov. Rick Perry, a devout Christian, is calling on all Texans to pray for rain as most of the state battles an extreme and exceptional drought.
    Perry has proclaimed a three-day period, from Friday to Sunday, as Days of Prayer for Rain in the state.

    "Some problems are beyond our power to solve, and according to the Book of Joel, Chapter 2, this historic hour demands a historic response," the Texas governor's invitation letter continues.

    "There is hope for America. It lies in heaven, and we will find it on our knees."

    Texas Governor Asks Residents to Pray for Rain Amid Extreme Drought - FoxNews.com

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    How could Republicans teach to their kids that "man-made" problems are so big, we need to "pray" to God to "save us"? So if we "pray" in a stadium, the reception is better? Because the group is "bigger"? This is ridiculous on so many levels.
     
  10. rdean
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    rdean rddean

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    I'm still trying to figure out what we learned from "magical creation".
     

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