Author Topic: Episode #146  (Read 11488 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Evan

  • SGU Panel Member
  • Off to a Start
  • *****
  • Posts: 72
Re: Episode #146
« Reply #30 on: May 11, 2008, 08:00:09 PM »
Perry once suggested we create a "Nope-o-meter". It was a skeptc's ghost detector - you turn it on, point it in a direction, pull the trigger, and it goes "Nope Nope Nope Nope ..."


"The masses are asses." - Perry DeAngelis

Offline skidoo

  • Stopped Going Outside
  • *******
  • Posts: 5881
Re: Episode #146
« Reply #31 on: May 11, 2008, 08:38:18 PM »
Hey guys. Nice logo. Great episode.

Just wanted to note something on the segment discussing 5 evolution misconceptions.  I think it was Jay that mentioned the brain cancer misconception, but i don't think he went into enough detain explanining properly why that is a fallacious statement. Especially for the listener who wrote in originally, who mentioned he has turned away from creationism only about a year ago, he would not know an answer to that type of statement.

So i am asking you or any of the other skeptics to please explain to me and all the other interested listeners the problem with that.

Ps i do remember hearing you explaining it before, on another podcast, but i just can't remember the explanation.

Thank you.

Dr. Novellla delves into this in some detail, but the indexing and search features on Neurologica appear to be broken, so I can't provide you direct links.

Offline Vy

  • Off to a Start
  • *
  • Posts: 14
Re: Episode #146
« Reply #32 on: May 11, 2008, 09:07:21 PM »
I don't know if it's been mentioned before, but what does Bob actually do for a living? The whole haunted convention spurred my curiosity.

Offline TheWireMonkey

  • Brand New
  • Posts: 9
Re: Episode #146
« Reply #33 on: May 11, 2008, 10:25:59 PM »
Regarding the wizardry story:

I feel nostalgic for the days when "witch hunt" was a metaphor...

Offline Bad

  • Not Enough Spare Time
  • **
  • Posts: 154
    • http://badidea.wordpress.com/
Re: Episode #146
« Reply #34 on: May 11, 2008, 11:24:33 PM »
Ok, I have my nitpick for the evolution section.  This has actually come up a number of times in the show.

The whole ape/human/monkey thing.  It's not that the explanation is wrong, per se, it's just that it's missing some key details, without which, we're going to continue to confuse people.

The key idea is nested clades: evolution works by subgroups forming within groups.  Humans aren't just descended from apes.  We are, and we remain, apes: a type of ape.  Everything that distinguishes apes from all other primates also distinguishes us from all other primates.  We didn't evolve from an ancient common ape ancestor of all other apes and then ourselves turn into something new.  We are apes, 100% apes, a sub-type of ape.  This can't be emphasized enough.

And if "monkey" was a good monophyletic term, we would also be monkeys as well.  Unfortunately, "monkey" is a taxonomically broken term that refers to two different groups of primates (based mostly on having a tail), but excludes apes despite the fact that apes are a subgroup of just one of those groups!  The same even goes for "fish": if we ever wanted to make "fish" a term that matched up with taxonomic group, including all modern and extinct things that we'd call "fish," then all land animals would inevitably be fish as well. 

Understanding how taxonomy works with evolution is absurdly confusing, and mapping taxonomy onto colloquial terms like "monkey" and "fish" is even worse.  The problem is that we have a system of classification that was designed prior to any knowledge of evolution. Structurally, it's really only suitable for classifying all organisms in a particular, unchanging slice in time.  Mix in ancestral or descendant species, and you run into a huge problem: the "ranks" cease to make any sense.

Consider a species.  This is both the term we use to describe a specific group of organisms AND treated as a sort of "rank": we classify every organism as a species, genus, family, order, and all the rest, each larger and larger (and more and more ancient) groups.  But the ranking purpose and the grouping purpose are at odds with each other: they are incompatible in light of evolution.

Consider what happens when speciation occurs: we end up with a new species name in the same genus: a new creature with the same "rank" as its ancestor.  To most laypeople, this implies a sort of lateral movement: one thing changing into something else.  This is entirely the wrong picture of things, but you can't blame people for getting the wrong impression.  And yet it's an impression that totally throws off their picture of evolutionary change, and that creationists love to exploit, as with the old "fruit flies never evolve into anything other than fruit flies" line. In fact, it's completely true that the descendant species of fruit flies will only ever be fruit flies... just as the descendants of early mammals are "still" mammals.  That's precisely how evolution works!

What's going on here is that the new species in every sense will fit the species definition of it's ancestor: it's new "species" name should actually rank below and inside the old species name.  Biologists sometimes try to do this with "subspecies," (i.e. homo sapien sapien) but this is really only papering over the problem. 

And it gets truly absurd when you consider ancient, fossil species.  Take a modern bird, like the Bearded Wood-partridge (Dendrortyx barbatus).  It has a genus and species name, and fits into all the rest of the taxonomic groups.  But then find it's ancient ancestor, a type of dinosaur.  Archaeopteryx lithographica almost certainly isn't a direct ancestor of all birds, but lets pretend for a second that it is.  Archaeopteryx lithographica is a genus and a species name that's in a class called Aves... the same class as all birds.  This makes little sense.  All birds are descedants of A. lithographica .  That means that all subsequent classifications should fall WITHIN the group lithographica: everything past that point is a subgroup, not of "Aves" but of lithographica as well!  No taxonomic "rank" that any bird has should rank higher or as high as whatever rank the GROUP that lithographica is.  Since lithographica is a species name, all subsequent groups should be subgroups of lithographica, and barbatus cannot be a species (ranked) name, nor Dendrortyx a genus (ranked) name. 

And you know, I still don't know quite how to explain this without diagrams: it's one of those things that's a mess to explain in words, but you can instantly grasp by looking at a family tree.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2008, 11:32:51 PM by Bad »
The Bad Idea Blog - Science, Skepticism, Silly.  YOU CANNOT RESIST.

Offline skidoo

  • Stopped Going Outside
  • *******
  • Posts: 5881
Re: Episode #146
« Reply #35 on: May 12, 2008, 01:27:12 AM »
Here's video of the "wizard" in action:

http://www.tampabays10.com/video/16x9/?aid=60997&sid=79533

You know, I'm starting to wonder if this whole kerfuffle isn't just an abuse of synonyms. Like, the word "wizardry" was likely just the supervisor's word for "magic trick." As in, you were wasting time performing magic tricks, when you should have been teaching. I seriously doubt they believed he was performing "wizardry," and that that was somehow directly harmful to his students.

Yes, it is Florida, but come on. I'm inclined to chalk this up to the good old "attention whore meets media pimps" phenomenon.

Offline MisterMarc

  • Too Much Spare Time
  • ********
  • Posts: 7508
  • The universe seems ...merely indifferent.
    • Schlock Treatment
Re: Episode #146
« Reply #36 on: May 12, 2008, 01:48:38 AM »
The same even goes for "fish": if we ever wanted to make "fish" a term that matched up with taxonomic group, including all modern and extinct things that we'd call "fish," then all land animals would inevitably be fish as well. 

???  What does this even mean? It's semantics. If we wanted to make "dinosaur" a term for all living and extinct things, then we would be dinosaurs. So?

Yes, technically we are apes, that is the taxonomical superfamily to which we belong, namely Hominoidea. Just like we are also members of the order Primates, and the kingdom Animalia. I think the argument made in the podcast stems from the idea that when creationists deny being descended from apes or monkeys, they are actually referring to modern apes and monkeys. The important distinction being that we are not descended from apes or monkeys as we see them today, though our common ancestor (whatever it might have been) would be classified as an ape (in the case of the common ancestor of say Gorillas and Humans) and a primate (in the case of the common ancestor of Gorillas, Monkeys, and Humans).

I would contend, contrary to your statement, that any common ancestor could not be called a monkey any more than it could be called a human or a lemur. Since a monkey is a separate superfamily, namely Cercopithecoidea, which follows a separate evolutionary branch from humans, a common ancestor could not be classified as one. In other words, while there was a common ancestor to apes and monkeys, it was neither an ape nor a monkey, because the traits which make those subfamilies distinct were not yet present. Apes, monkeys and humans evolved from that common ancestor, and did not yet exist.

« Last Edit: May 12, 2008, 01:54:08 AM by MisterMarc »

Offline Apeiron

  • Too Much Spare Time
  • ********
  • Posts: 6119
  • Students! The muses are silent.
    • ILS
Re: Episode #146
« Reply #37 on: May 12, 2008, 05:10:14 AM »
I listened to the podcast last night while jogging, and think this was one of the best ones. I always like it when the rogues just talk through the entire thing, because the interviews bore me sometimes.

Hopefully there will be some follow-up on the fired "wizard". It seems the most sensible to indeed be rather skeptical of the story as it is reported, but "wizardry" might still have played a part in letting him go - which would of course be insane.

---

Steve said that they could perhaps do a series on evolution misconceptions. I would like that a lot. Perhaps as a new segment. Quote one or two paragraphs from a recent article by the Discovery Institute or Answers in Genesis or something like that, and discuss the problems with it.

Offline ganzfeld

  • Well Established
  • *****
  • Posts: 1639
Re: Episode #146
« Reply #38 on: May 12, 2008, 06:33:40 AM »
Great episode; enjoyable as ever after three years! happy anniversary.

Just one tiny nitpick: What does Steve have against the baboons? They don't deserve that kind of insult!
"It may be that Pluto is the nearest of a group of dwarf planets analogous to our Earth and its three near neighbours.", Hector Macpherson, Makers of astronomyā€ˇ (1933)

Offline The Skeptic's Apprentice

  • Keeps Priorities Straight
  • ***
  • Posts: 295
  • Yum Yum Bumblebee Tuna
    • http://www.myspace.com/skepticsapprentice
Re: Episode #146
« Reply #39 on: May 12, 2008, 08:26:48 AM »
Happy anniversary guys! Great episode and I really like the new logo. Keep up the good work!
Quote
<Apeiron> I'd love to have a gay friend around actually

Offline Kwisatz Haderach

  • Poster of Extraordinary Magnitude
  • **********
  • Posts: 11170
Re: Episode #146
« Reply #40 on: May 12, 2008, 09:59:05 AM »
I really enjoyed the evolution discussion in this episode.  I think SGU is at it's best when the ratio of "meaty" science to woo-debunking/jokes leans a little more is the favor of science.

Recent episodes have been a little too "jokey" for my taste; I would like to encourage more science discussion... the jokes are funnier when they arise out of the Rogues' interaction when discussing serious topics, in any case!

Of course, one of my favorite episodes is the one with the hot alien 70s chicks from the alternate universe, so...... there it is.

Offline dralan

  • Brand New
  • Posts: 2
Re: Episode #146
« Reply #41 on: May 12, 2008, 11:14:45 AM »
I think I may be a hyperadaptationalist. It seems to me the Piano has evolved to be at least playable by youngest, oldest and least musically talented.

Offline Evil Eye

  • Poster of Extraordinary Magnitude
  • **********
  • Posts: 13168
  • THINK!
Re: Episode #146
« Reply #42 on: May 12, 2008, 11:26:08 AM »
I think I may be a hyperadaptationalist. It seems to me the Piano has evolved to be at least playable by youngest, oldest and least musically talented.

heh... the piano has evolved to play itself.
"We'll get that information to you later" - Richard Feynman to Mr. Rodgers.

Offline Sam

  • Not Enough Spare Time
  • **
  • Posts: 248
    • http://home.no.net/bigsam
Re: Episode #146
« Reply #43 on: May 12, 2008, 12:26:02 PM »
Good epsiode, the whole argument that we didn't descend from apes but share a common ancestor with apes (often expressed as if it was a cosmic revelation) always seemed like nit-picking to me. Glad for Steve's correction on that point. Of course we didn't descend from modern apes, but our common ancestor with modern apes was also an ape by all accounts. In fact, humans are more closely related to chimpanzees and gorillas than chimpanzees and gorillas are to ourang-outangs. Perhaps we can file this under popular misconceptions about misconceptions about evolution?  8)
« Last Edit: May 12, 2008, 12:40:38 PM by Sam »
Inventing excuses to believe is not the same as having good reasons to believe.

Offline Bad

  • Not Enough Spare Time
  • **
  • Posts: 154
    • http://badidea.wordpress.com/
Re: Episode #146
« Reply #44 on: May 12, 2008, 12:31:35 PM »
???  What does this even mean? It's semantics.

Yes and no.  It's a problem with semantics.  The problem is that we developed these terms, like "fish" in ignorance of certain key features of nature.  These words purport to be good groups, in the sense that all things in them are more like each other than any is like anything else.  But this simply isn't what turns out to be the case with "monkey" or "fish" or even "reptile."

Quote
If we wanted to make "dinosaur" a term for all living and extinct things, then we would be dinosaurs. So?

Well, that wouldn't really be relevant in any way to what I'm saying: that's just randomly redefining a word arbitrarily. 

My point is that there's an unavoidable ambiguity with words like "dinosaur" IF we want to really make sense, biologically.  If we want it merely to mean "those big reptile things with legs underneath their bodies that are all extinct" there's no problem.  But if we want that word to fit an actual taxonomic group, then there's no way to do it without also including birds as dinosaurs themselves.

Quote
Yes, technically we are apes, that is the taxonomical superfamily to which we belong, namely Hominoidea. Just like we are also members of the order Primates, and the kingdom Animalia. I think the argument made in the podcast stems from the idea that when creationists deny being descended from apes or monkeys, they are actually referring to modern apes and monkeys.


That's true, but I don't think that's the core of the misunderstanding they have.  The core is that they think that evolution works by the transformation of one thing into a different thing, rather than into a sub-type of the original thing.  This misunderstanding is aided in the extremely confused way we define biological life, using all sorts of different systems of grouping and splitting, taxonomic ranking, and then strange colloquial terms like "monkey" that are inherently problematic.

Quote
The important distinction being that we are not descended from apes or monkeys as we see them today, though our common ancestor (whatever it might have been) would be classified as an ape (in the case of the common ancestor of say Gorillas and Humans) and a primate (in the case of the common ancestor of Gorillas, Monkeys, and Humans).

But this too is still a sloppy way of putting it.  "Ape" is a group that describes any and all creatures with a particular set of distinguishing features.  "Apes today" includes us, which means that we are descended from some of the apes around today: our own ape mothers and ape fathers.  What you really mean is that we are not descended from chimps, gorillas, orangs, and gibbons.

Quote
I would contend, contrary to your statement, that any common ancestor could not be called a monkey any more than it could be called a human or a lemur.

I don't see how you would support that contention.  What I am saying is that IF we try to make the term "monkey" monophyletic, that is, to make it match up with a particular taxonomic grouping, then we cannot avoid having apes be monkeys.  But that's an "if" I'm using.  It's perfectly okay if we leave the term "monkey" as it is.  We should just be aware that it's taxonomically misleading and confusing.

Quote
Since a monkey is a separate superfamily, namely Cercopithecoidea, which follows a separate evolutionary branch from humans, a common ancestor could not be classified as one.


You are mistaken.  "Monkey" does not refer to only to Cercopithecoidea, but also to parvorder Platyrrhini (i.e. to both New world and old world monkeys).  Again, this is because the word "monkey" doesn't mean anything taxonomically coherent: it basically only means "those simian things with tails."  There is no way to align the term "monkey" with a taxonomic group that does not then also include apes.  (Of course, this all got to be even more of a mess after old world monkeys were discovered that lacked tails: just like the apes, they had lost them)

That doesn't mean that the term "monkey" is wrong, or that apes MUST "rightly" be called monkeys.  But it does mean that "monkey" is a term like "warm-blooded" that groups things by a few single prominent features, ignoring all the rest and their actual ancestry and relation.

Quote
In other words, while there was a common ancestor to apes and monkeys, it was neither an ape nor a monkey, because the traits which make those subfamilies distinct were not yet present. Apes, monkeys and humans evolved from that common ancestor, and did not yet exist.

Again, you're trying to make the term "monkey" mean something taxonomically strict, when it is not.  The common ancestor to apes and monkeys almost certainly would have had a tail, and thus would have been called a monkey by the same vague lights that we call various modern simians monkeys.

Just try to find a taxonomic group that corresponds to "monkey," that a) includes all the things that we call monkeys and b) does not include apes.  You can't do it. 

And the same goes for "fish" and land animals.  In fact, "fish" is even worse, because to capture most everything we consider a "fish" we'd probably have to go all the way back to "Vertebrata."

This is what I mean.  I'm not calling for a redefinition of the term "monkey."  I'm trying to point out how confusing all of these different systems of classification are, because they have different standards and ways of doing things that are both incompatible with each other, and often not particularly compatible with the actual evolutionary structure of life.

The solution is to use a purely cladistic system, but its a solution unlikely to catch on.  How many people are going to stop using the term "monkey" and instead refer to "nodes 1622 and 2379"?
The Bad Idea Blog - Science, Skepticism, Silly.  YOU CANNOT RESIST.

 

personate-rain
personate-rain