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Science, evolution, culture, religion

February 17, 2006

Science, evolution, culture, religion

Jan 13, 2001

P.Lucas: "For you to justify your personal observations (of cultures of birds,insects) and get us to accept them, you really need to do a comprehensive study following anthropological protocols to demonstrate what anthropologists refer to as culture. This has been done for several species, including species of birds, and the data shows that birds do not have culture."

D.Henis: (1) Data cannot show that a species does not have culture. It can only record that the search for culture failed to reveal it. (2) I don't feel a need to justify my personal observations. I just enjoy them. Only reference-bound scientists need to do this, since only for them seeing is not proof unless there is a reference to cite. (3) Have'nt you ever had a priviledge and a pleasure of observing various groups of ants or bees at few of their life routines ?

P.Lucas: " As to plants. Dov, thousands of botanists have been studying plants for about 300 years. None of them have reported, to my knowledge, behavior in plants that could be interpreted as culture. I appreciate your backyard observations, but I have difficulty accepting conclusions that run counter to those of thousands of people who have professionally studied plants. It is possible that they are wrong and you are right, but in order to convince me you are going to have to present a lot of data, not your bare assertions".

D.Henis: (1) Thousands of other scientists who have studied hundreds of other things have not yet reported thousands of other finds. Does that mean that there are'nt any ? (2) When you follow a mix of closely intertwined plants manoeuvring for a sun-lit position, or when you note that upon an attack of fruit flies the color of the tangerines on your tree changes and the modified-color fruit is not stung, or when you realize that following repeated prunning of the vines of a passion-fruit that climb up a telephone-cable post the bush ceases any further attempt to climb up the post – you don't think about if/who/how might have been studying them. You just take it in with a feeling of awe and respect.

P.Lucas: " Two points here: (1) The alternative to disagreeing with you is not appeal to deity or special creation. As I showed above, you have misunderstanding of biological evolution. 2. Can you post your data that deity is solely "conjured as our culture evolved"? You state that as fact, but I know of no scientific data to back it. Can you post the scientific data behind that statement?"

D.Henis: (1) I am not sure that disagreement with your strict dogmatic approach to evolution and your adherence to exact technicalities in wordings imply "misunderstanding of biological evolution". Biological Evolution is not a physical law or equation but a broad framework encompassing multitude of aspects, and I do not recall that it has an authoritative version similar to that of Mao Tse Tung's Red-Book…. (2) Re proof on the subject of deity I confess that I cannot post scientific data to back my above statement. This might make many readers happy. Good for them. I wish them well and I'm glad for them. DH

January 15, 2001, from Christine A. Ryan:


You get the point about "the one thing we were designed by natural selection to do". Surprisingly few people understand that. PL certainly seemed to miss it. But you spoiled my fun, I was leading him on because I enjoy the colorful prose in which he couches his erroneous responses."

Jan 16, 2001, from Dov:


Be careful. Big Brother might add you to the list… But of course I'm only kidding, and in somewhat bad taste, I admit. I can't resist it, though. I'm human, I think.

Yet I do not agree with "erroneous responses". Not constituted to reciprocate with unkind tactics and attitude used in regards to me ( and to you and to whoever posts…). There is no call nor justification to become personal on this site. However, an attempt to relate to the different attitudes (and tactics) of the persons involved in the course of our discussions is, in my opinion, a legitimate subject to deal with since it reflects their different attitudes towards Science, including Evolution, and their different concepts of Science. Not of Scientific Method but of Science.

Myself represents one type : I have not practiced scientific methods in biochemistry since 1956, when I Ph.D.'ed, as I switched then to Polymers and Plastics. I also have'nt read any BOOK on a biological subject since then and have been following developments in related fields in periodicals such as Science, Nature, and in more "popular" ones such as Scientific America. The Internet enables me to obtain background info for these continuing updates. However, I feel that I am a "scientist" in my approach to and assessment and handling of things not only in my field of expertise but re each and every subject and matter that faces me, even – and it hurts me – in personal affairs. Thus to me being "scientific" encompasses the whole of my perceiving, reacting, thinking and reflecting "self", contributing to my cognizing self depth and infinite horizon.

The relevance of my specific "phenotype" to our subject is that it should be possible for persons of various backgrounds and occupations and of varying degrees of expertise in the Scientific Method of the subject being discussed to carry out intelligent discussions about every subject, even on Evolution. With the ever inreasing sub-splitting of scientific "fields" and the exponential increase of published data and information we must learn to think, communicate and cooperate "scientifically" rather than drive to exclude "non-initiated foreigners" from our own specific field.

end. DH.

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