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Мифы неодарвинизма

Мифы неодарвинизма

от Евгений Волков -
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Мифы неодарвинизма

https://www.facebook.com/notes/brett-william/the-myths-of-new-darwinism/1518943718217787/

The Myths of New-Darwinism. “Evolution is a fact, deal with it.” - A common internet statement. I wouldn't mind this statement so much if people actually knew what they were talking about. There was a time when the answer to every question seemed to be 'God', along with the implied threat that if you ask any more question, you will be burned at the stake. Unfortunately, now it seems the answer to every question has become 'Evolution' with the implied threat of being labelled a fool if you question what this really means. Evolution has arguably become the most powerful word in modern language. The concept is widely accepted as the principal fact which underpins every philosophy or field of scientific investigation. It is the universal panacea, the trump card in any linguistic argument. The way people view 'evolution' dictates their entire outlook on life and represents their understanding of how to succeed. It should therefore be vital we continue to question what we really know about this fundamental truth. To decide whether or not to accept evolution as a fact, first we need to recognize which meaning of the word the person is implying. 'Evolution' can be used in two ways, either as a noun meaning Darwinism; 'the process by which different kinds of living organism are believed to have come about from earlier forms'; or as a verb meaning, 'gradual development, progress and advancement'. Although these may seem the same, there is a big difference in their principle. Evolution as the verb, first appeared in the European languages some two hundred years before Darwin's theory. This meaning, which is still in common use today can not rightly be described as a fact, because it is not an inevitable natural law. It is merely a possible outcome. Darwin himself stressed; it is not necessarily the case that everything today is better than yesterday, nor that everything tomorrow will be better than today. Yet still, biologists have to explain that the 'theory' of evolution concerns change, regardless of whether that change can be seen as 'progress' or not. Is Darwinism a fact? 04.09.2018 Евгений Волков https://www.facebook.com/notes/brett-william/the-myths-of-new-darwinism/1518943718217787/ 2/13 I will start by clarifying that yes, lifeforms on earth have changed and adapted [often significantly] over long periods of time, but this is not the same as understanding how and why this has occurred. For instance, it's one thing to say, it's a fact the sun travels across the sky every day, but another to understand it is the earth's rotation which causes this. Darwinism in the modern context, has come mostly to refer to 'natural selection'. However, natural selection cannot [as it often is] be truthfully said to be the primary mechanism of Darwinism. Darwin proposed there were two mechanisms at work; natural selection and artificial [or un-natural] selection. “I am convinced that Natural Selection has been the main, but not exclusive means of modification.” - Darwin, page 6 of Origin of the Species. Natural selection is a reactive process, where changes in the environment effect changes in the organisms dependent on that environment. This is an unintentional and unconscious process, the result of inanimate forces. Artificial selection on the other hand, is conscious and often intentional. It includes such processes as, sexual selection and the inheritance of acquired characteristics which Darwin called pan-genesis. Pan-genesis is a pro-active process, where changes that an organism causes to itself can be passed onto following generations. These changes can also include characteristics which are not beneficial for survival. For more than a century, artificial selection has been trivialised and sidelined, more for reasons of political prejudice than for valid scientific reasons. The result has been that the common understanding of Evolution is limited to being a half-truth. Developments in science and the evolution of societies attitude in general have now made it possible to demonstrate how this mistake has been a costly obstruction to our full understanding. For example: - At the time of publishing 'origin of species' Darwin briefly introduced the concept of sexual selection, but it would be another twelve years before he published his more complete explanation, 'The Decent of Man through Sexual Selection.' Not that he needed to rush. The strong puritanical attitudes towards sex and the roles of women in society meant it wouldn't be until the 1960's before sexual selection would be given any serious consideration. The problem was it implied two conclusions which were uncomfortable for the thinkers of the time. Namely; animals and more particularly female 04.09.2018 Евгений Волков https://www.facebook.com/notes/brett-william/the-myths-of-new-darwinism/1518943718217787/ 3/13 animals were making important decisions. Even Darwin's co-author, of the natural selection side of his work, Alfred Wallace, considered the whole idea of 'female choice' implied judgement capacities which were simply not present. However, despite the pressure to conform, Darwin's inner objectivity just could not let it go. He felt natural selection alone could not account for characteristics which were not beneficial for survival. He once wrote to a colleague, “The sight of a feather in a peacock's tail, whenever I gaze at it, makes me sick!” ................................................. The myths sheltered by the umbrella of 'Evolution' are unfortunately many. Most people for example, believe Charles Darwin [the father of evolution] came up with this scientific revelation in 1859. In reality the first biological theory was published by Charles' grandfather Dr Erasmus Darwin some fifty years prior to the 'Origin of the species'. Titled 'Zoonomia' Erasmus suggested that, “all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament ... with the power of acquiring new parts in response to stimuli and each round of improvements being inherited by successive generations.” This picture of the single ancestor from which all species developed is the concept known as the 'tree of life' and is often used to illustrate the central pillar of evolutionary theory. Unfortunately this didn't come as much of a revelation. The concept of species changing over time had already been rooted in our distant antiquity. It appeared in the ideas of the ancient Greeks, the Romans and the Chinese, and the concept of 'the tree of life' couldn't really be said to be original either, as it had always been a central principle of the Bible. The recognition of species adaptation, which has come to be known as evolution, must surely have been an unavoidable consequence of animal husbandry and so would date back to at least the Neolithic-era and the beginnings of our farming practices. Survival of the fittest: The second and probably the most corruptive myth of evolution is that, Darwin said the mechanism of change was driven by the 'Survival of the fittest'. This phrase was not invented by Darwin it was coined by the Economist Herbert Spencer and was used by him to promote the earlier evolutionary theories of the French philosophers, August Comte and Jean-Baptise Lamark. It's a phrase which has proved enduringly popular for two reasons. Firstly because its 04.09.2018 Евгений Волков https://www.facebook.com/notes/brett-william/the-myths-of-new-darwinism/1518943718217787/ 4/13 simple, far simpler than actually understanding the intricacies of Darwin's theory; and secondly, because it's a phrase which re-affirmed what people already believed regardless of what Darwin was trying to say. 'Survival of the fittest' is a very poor and antiquated description of the evolutionary process. It says more about human beliefs than it does about the process of nature. The idea of goodbreeding and the natural entitlement of the powerful and wealthy was already the convention of the day and the survival phrase was a convenient way to attach scientific credibility to the existing economic philosophy of, 'the winner takes it all'. In nature the reality is, it's not only the strongest that survive. This is something well demonstrated by their being many alternative species which coexist. The attitude of 'survival of the fittest' originates as far back as the Roman empire and their Gladiatorial competitions. Marcus Cicero [Roman politician] observed that the Peripatetic and Stoic view of nature as an agency concerned most basically with producing life “best fitted for survival” was taken for granted among the Hellenistic elite. However, it is also worth noting that the Greek philosophers included a clear distinction between two types of competition. One which was seen as good and productive and the other, which was considered destructive and counter-productive. This is no doubt why the spirit of the Olympic games differed significantly from the executions and death matches of the Colosseum. Although competition is no doubt a valid motivating force it is only secondary to the most successful survival characteristic, the ability to cooperate. Many species display cooperation far more often than competition and it should also be recognised that successful cooperation is the central principle on which human civilisation is based. Natural Selection: So what was it that Darwin was trying to say? - Well firstly, because evolution was already a pre-existing concept he went out of his way to avoid using the word anywhere in his explanation of the origin of species. Nevertheless, despite his reluctance he did use the verb for the very last word of his book: “From so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been and are being evolved.” Darwin would have been acutely aware that he was playing with fire. His work was about to enter a society full of powerful, race, class and gender prejudices and he must have been 04.09.2018 Евгений Волков https://www.facebook.com/notes/brett-william/the-myths-of-new-darwinism/1518943718217787/ 5/13 concerned that his explanation might get tangled and confused with existing views. It had only been twenty-five years since the abolition of slavery in the United Kingdom. Both Darwin's grandfathers had been strong advocates for this reversal of the law and still, the United States was yet to change their own slavery laws. To this end it would only be two years before the outbreak of civil war on the American continent. Rather than proving that adaptation of species was occurring, Darwin's theory attempted to clarify what the forces were that were driving these changes. In essence he proposed two areas of influence; nature and nurture. Nature in the form of natural selection and nurture in the form of artificial selection which included, sexual selection and pan-genesis. Natural selection is an unconscious process driven by inanimate forces. Rather than being 'the survival of the fittest' it is more accurately described as, 'the discontinuation of the ineffective'. Characteristics which are detrimental to the success of an organism will limit the chances of this characteristic being passed on to the next generation. The less effective the characteristic the less likely that this characteristic will be passed on. Artificial selection and particularly pan-genesis is conscious and so driven by animate living forces. It is the ability of an organism to adapt to its changing circumstances and to pass this advantage onto descendants. Unfortunately this idea flew in the face of the existing belief that organisms [and humans] are strictly the product of their breeding. An idea which involves there being only a one-way relationship between the organism and its hereditary material. Pan-genesis on the other hand, suggested that there was some two-way influence. The one-way belief, where a persons behaviour (and so also their station) is governed solely by their genes, later came to be known as biological or genetic determinism, or as scientific racism. Genetics: Once Darwin's theory had been published to widespread debate and acclaim, it caused great division of opinion. It had come at the height of the industrial revolution; only ten years earlier Friedrich Engels had published a report on, the negative effects of industrialisation on the working classes after ten thousand people had died in three months, after an outbreak of cholera in London. While the cold logic of natural selection fitted well with the current view of a mechanical universe as described by Isaac Newton, pan-genesis appeared to be a bit vague and unquantifiable, and probably dangerous to the existing order. 04.09.2018 Евгений Волков https://www.facebook.com/notes/brett-william/the-myths-of-new-darwinism/1518943718217787/ 6/13 Genes and DNA were yet to be discovered and Darwin himself confessed pan-genesis was still only a hypothesis, but one which he believed should not be discounted out of hand. Although he had provided many examples where he believed he saw the process occurring in nature, he didn't really know how the biological nuts and bolts would function. He proposed, there were probably microscopic particles which he called 'pan-genes' or 'gemmules' and these would carry the new information about their parent cells and so could be passed onto the following generations. Today, advances in science have led to the genetic studies of epigenetic-mechanisms and somatic hyper-mutations. This has demonstrated there is indeed some two-way influence between body and genes and has re-opened investigations into the inheritance of acquired characteristics. The field of study is now known as 'Transgenerational Epigenetic Inheritance' and includes not only the inheritance of physical characteristics but also of memory and acquired skills. - Epigenetic inheritance has been reported in more than 100 cases throughout a wide range of organisms, including plants, animals and prokaryotes. [01] - Bacteria has been seen to develop resistance to antibiotics. Likewise, the immune system learns new pathogens and passes this immunity onto following generations. - Mice have been shown to inherit fear conditioning, which was only experienced by their parents or grandparents. [02][03][04][05] - Inheritance of addictive characteristics have been noted to occur in preclinical studies. [06] [07] - Prof Marcus Pembrey of University College London, said “It is high time public health researcher took human transgenerational responses seriously ... I suspect we will not understand the rise in neuro-psychiatric disorders or obesity, diabetes or metabolic disruptions generally, without taking a multi-generational approach.” [08] - Probably the simplest observation of epigenetic effects can be seen in the studies of identical twins throughout their lives. Pairs who spend less of their lifetime together show greater divergence in their gene patterns. Epigenetic changes can be seen in response to both environmental and lifestyle differences. [09] 04.09.2018 Евгений Волков https://www.facebook.com/notes/brett-william/the-myths-of-new-darwinism/1518943718217787/ 7/13 Observations such as these are now also leading us away from the traditional view that 'all' adaptations are simply the result of the fortunate coincidence of 'random' gene mutation [drift]. Organisms which have the ability to directly respond to their conditions make possible a much faster evolutionary process without the need to wait for the intervention of luck. Biological Determinism: Unfortunately, back in 1859 Darwin didn't have access to this kind of research and his explanation of pan-genesis was getting a frosty reception. Probably the greatest opponent to his ideas was his own half-cousin Francis Galton. Galton was a: statistician, polymath, sociologist, psychologist, anthropologist, explorer;- geographer, inventor, meteorologist, psychometrician and soon to be a knight of the realm. He had long been an advocate for, the importance of good blood-lines and biological determinism. Francis carried out an experiment where he gave a rabbit of one variety a blood transfusion from a rabbit of another variety. When the offspring from the second showed no characteristics from the first, he declared he had disproved Darwin's theory of pan-genesis. Darwin objected, in a letter to the scientific journal 'Nature', saying that he had done nothing of the sort, but Francis went on to promote 'natural selection' as being the exclusive mechanism of change and used it to support his belief that; desirable human traits such as, intelligence and good character were directly hereditary and so could in no way be affected by education or living conditions. Darwin again, strongly disagreed with this distortion of this theory, and would no doubt have be reminded of his other grandfather, the self-made man Josiah Wedgwood. In 1883 a year after Darwin's death Sir Francis Galton created a new name for his 'social science'. Or rather, his pseudo-science of, controlled breading to 'improve' the genetic quality of the human population. Instead of the traditional names of, 'Good-breading' or biological determinism he decided to give it a fresh coat of paint by renaming it, Eugenics, meaning 'well-born' [Eu meaning, good or well and Genos meaning, race, stock or kin]. The final nail in the coffin for the idea of acquired characteristics came in 1892 when an Austrian evolutionary biologist and advocate for biological determinism, August Friedrich Leopold Weismann, published, 'The Germ Plasm: A Theory of Inheritance'. In this, Weismann proposed that the hereditary material (later known as genes) should be called 'germ-plasm' and not 'pan-genes' as Darwin had suggested. Secondly he insisted that 04.09.2018 Евгений Волков https://www.facebook.com/notes/brett-william/the-myths-of-new-darwinism/1518943718217787/ 8/13 there could only be a strict one-way relationship between germ-plasm and body. The germplasm formed the body but the body could not possibly influence the germ-plasm. He demonstrated this, by cutting off the tails of mice and then recording that their offspring were born with normal tails. Like Sir Francis Galton, August Weissman argued strongly and dogmatically against pangenesis and for natural selection but only in the pre-Darwinian form of 'survival of the fittest'. Eventually, he successfully polarised the opinions among other scientists. Biologist had for a long time been divided; although they had been convinced that natural selection was occurring, they were less convinced that it was the only mechanism driving evolution. If the changes were not caused by acquired characteristics then what was causing the changes that nature was then selecting? - Weisman proposed this was simply the result of chance in the form of random mutation of the germ-plasm. From this point on, natural selection became established as being the sole mechanism of evolution and acquired-characteristics ceased to be associated with Darwin's name. It would now only be referred to as 'Lamarckism' (or Lamarckian inheritance). Jean-Baptiste Lamarck being the French philosopher who had discussed acquired characteristics prior to the publication of 'the origin of species'. This is not to say that the idea was original to Lamarck, it had already been an aspect of Erasmus Darwin's earlier work. Soon after, the new censored view of Darwinism came to be known as Neo-Darwinism or New-Darwinism. Eventually a popular Eugenics movement emerged around the world. Many countries adopted eugenic policies which included “positive” measures such as; encouraging individuals deemed particularly “fit” to reproduce, and “negative” measures such as; marriage prohibitions, compulsory sterilisations and forced abortions of people who were deemed unfit for reproduction. These 'unfit' people included those with mental or physical health problems, people who scored low on IQ tests, criminals and members of minority groups. Pope Pius XI condemned the forced sterilisation saying, “Public magistrates should have no direct power over the bodies of their subjects; therefore, where no crime has taken place and there is no cause for grave punishment, they can never directly harm, or tamper with the integrity of the body for reasons of eugenics or for any other reason.” Adolf Hitler - “I see no reason why man should not be as cruel as nature.” 04.09.2018 Евгений Волков https://www.facebook.com/notes/brett-william/the-myths-of-new-darwinism/1518943718217787/ 9/13 Eugenics finally lost popularity at the end of the second world war when it became associated with the Nuremberg trials where many of the Nazi defendants attempted to use Eugenics to justify their war crimes of the Holocaust. The Sexual Revolution: Darwin published “The descent of man and selection in relation to sex” in 1871, about a decade after his theory of the origin of species. This original observation of the forces involved in adaptation now form a vital part of our understanding, yet it wouldn't be until the sexual and cultural revolution of the 1960's before it would be given any serious consideration. Why? - Sexual selection implied two conclusions which were decidedly uncomfortable for the thinkers of the time. Firstly, that animals may well be able to think and make decisions. Reason being something which was generally considered to be a uniquely human characteristic; and secondly, perhaps more concerning, that these important decisions were mostly being made by females. To Darwin, sexual selection went a long way towards explaining the existence of characteristics which were not beneficial for survival, and in some cases even detrimental to survival. The example he most often used was the the peacock and its long colourful tail feathers. These would not only do nothing to help hide the bird from predators but would also slow it down if it tried to escape. How could characteristics such as these be explained simply by environmental conditions? Although sexual selection does include the traditional virtues of strength and resilience it also includes selection of more obscure characteristics, such as beauty and pleasure. As the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it is likely that different species have their own unique criteria for what they perceive as beauty. “Are we not justified in believing that the female exerts a choice... It is not possible that she consciously deliberates; but she is most excited or attracted by the most beautiful, or most melodious, or most gallant males.” - Darwin 1871:123 Unfortunately, there were those in the scientific establishment who were still unwilling to 04.09.2018 Евгений Волков https://www.facebook.com/notes/brett-william/the-myths-of-new-darwinism/1518943718217787/ 10/13 accept any exception to the rule of unconscious-natural-selection. Sexual selection was eventually accepted, but only on the proviso that it be considered a part of natural-selection. This lead to what is known as the 'handicap' theory of evolution; which holds that all characteristics of beauty or pleasure are actually only disguised characteristics of survival/ fitness. A female for example, who may appear to be impressed by a beautiful bird song, is actually not impressed by the song, she is impressed by the ability to sing the song while also not being eaten by a predator. Surely a more realistic explanation would be that; during times of hardship survival characteristics would be the priority, but during times of plenty these priorities would no doubt change. Why it's necessary to go so far out of our way to avoid the more obvious conclusion that there is more than one selection criteria? When an animal is well adapted to its environment, has more than enough sex and doesn't spend it's whole day searching for food, what decisions does it then make in its spare time? Is it also possible that not all evolutionary choices are made unconsciously, randomly and in a desperate struggle to survive and dominate? Could it be possible that each species is making at least half its decision based on other criteria? Maybe many of the defining choices in species divergence have been made purely for pleasure, exploration and creativity? The joy of being alive? The Selfish Gene: Perhaps as a result of the backlash against religion and the theory of design by a deity, resistance to the recognition of any kind of conscious choice continues. However, this also raises an unavoidable question; - if the only driving force is survival through competition, then what explains the existence of love, cooperation, kindness and self sacrifice? The gene-centred model of evolution is described as; a model for the evolution of social characteristics. George C Williams [1966] - “The essence of genetical theory of natural selection is a statistical bias of survival alternatives.” This gene theory was popularised in 1976 by the evolutionary biologist and passionate promoter of atheism, Richard Dawkins (FRS). In his book, The Selfish Gene, he explains that altruism, [the behaviour of an organism that benefits another at its own expense], makes more sense the more closely the two individuals are genetically related; and that because heritable information is passed almost exclusively by DNA, evolution is best considered from the perspective of genes. As such, what may appear to be an act of kindness by one individual 04.09.2018 Евгений Волков https://www.facebook.com/notes/brett-william/the-myths-of-new-darwinism/1518943718217787/ 11/13 to another is in fact a selfish act which benefits the success of the DNA which both share. He refers to this somewhat incestuous principle as, 'Gods utility function' and says; 'organisms are nothing more than the survival machines of genes'; consequently 'life has no meaning, genes perpetuate their own existence with indifference to the great suffering inflicted upon the organisms they build, exploit and discard.' It should be pointed out though, this is not science, it's just an opinion. There is no evidence that free will is prevented by the genes, nor that 'all' organisms are merely slaves to their base biological desires. Although it is true tests have shown there to be very little altruism displayed by the simpler life forms, such as bacteria or fruit flies, the same cannot be said for animals such as, monkeys, dolphins, dogs or parrots. While it is useful to recognise the likelihood that there is some unconscious influence from our genes, such as hunger and lust, to exclude all recognition of the importance of individual conscious choice is simply geneticdeterminism. This in turn is just a re-presentation of Francis Galton's biologicaldeterminism'. There are quite rightly many critics of the gene centered point of view. The main argument being; - Genes primarily register the changes they are not responsible for selecting them. It is the organisms which interact and so it is their actions which are responsible for making the choices. The gene centred view of evolution when combined with 'mathematical game-theory', has proved to be a useful tool in predicting general trends among populations. This no doubt echoes the reality of their being biological drives, but the accuracy of these models is greatly reduced when applied to behaviour of individuals and smaller groups. Selection works on many levels not purely at the genetic level. The most rational approach must surely be, as Darwin originally proposed, evolution is end product of interaction between both physical and conscious forces. In other words, the two-way view rather than the one-way view. While it is still productive to recognise the gene-centred view as a hypothetical model, we should be clear that it is not a scientifically proven fact, nor is it an inevitable 'law' of nature. Although the selfish-gene has been criticised for being ' exceptionally reductionist' or as 'fundamentalist [neo]- darwinism' I would go further. To reduce evolution solely to the mathematics of personal gain by excluding the importance of feeling and consciousness 04.09.2018 Евгений Волков https://www.facebook.com/notes/brett-william/the-myths-of-new-darwinism/1518943718217787/ 12/13 [particularly the higher functions], is simply another attempt to justify the logic of the sociopath. “I have noticed that even those who assert that everything is predestined and that we can change nothing about it, still look both ways before they cross the road.” - Stephen Hawkins “I can calculate the path of the heavenly bodies but not the madness of men.” - Isaac Newton ............................................................................................................................................. References: 01 - (June 2009). "Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance: prevalence, mechanisms, and implications for the study of heredity and evolution" - Jablonka E, Raz G 02 - (2013) Fearful Memories Passed Down to Mouse Descendants: Genetic imprint from traumatic experiences carries through at least two generations, By Ewen Callaway and Nature magazine | Sunday, 1 December 2013. 03 – (2013) Jump up, Mice can 'warn' sons, grandsons of dangers via sperm, Mariette Le Roux, 12/1/13. 04 - (2016). "Elevated paternal glucocorticoid exposure alters the small noncoding RNA profile in sperm and modifies anxiety and depressive phenotypes in the offspring". Translational Psychiatry. 6 (6): e837. Short, A K; Fennell, K A; Perreau, V M; Fox, A; O’Bryan, M K; Kim, J H; Bredy, T W; Pang, T Y; Hannan, A J 05 - (2014). "Lamarck revisited: epigenetic inheritance of ancestral odor fear conditioning". Nat. Neurosci. 17 (1): 2–4. Szyf M 06 - (2014). "Mechanisms of transgenerational inheritance of addictive-like behaviors". Neuroscience. 264: 198–206. Vassoler FM, Sadri-Vakili G 07 - (2015). "Transgenerational Inheritance of Paternal Neurobehavioral Phenotypes: Stress, Addiction, Ageing and Metabolism". Mol. Neurobiol. Yuan TF, Li A, Sun X, Ouyang H, Campos C, Rocha NB, Arias-Carrión O, Machado S, Hou G, So KF 08 - (Dec 2013) 'Memories' pass between generations, James Gallagher Health and science reporter, BBC News. 09 - (July 2005). "Epigenetic differences arise during the lifetime of monozygotic twins". 04.09.2018 Евгений Волков https://www.facebook.com/notes/brett-william/the-myths-of-new-darwinism/1518943718217787/ 13/13 Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 102 (30): Fraga MF, Ballestar E, Paz MF, Ropero S, Setien F, Ballestar ML, Heine-Suñer D, Cigudosa JC, Urioste M, Benitez J, Boix-Chornet M, SanchezAguilera A, Ling C, Carlsson E, Poulsen P, Vaag A, Stephan Z, Spector TD, Wu YZ, Plass C, Esteller M. ..............................................

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