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  1. #11
    Senior Member reason's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by booyalab View Post
    I find it ironic that he thinks the idea of punctuated equilibrium is so oversold in the media, when the only time he's mentioned is within the context of his ignorant views on religion or memetic theory. He's a joke.
    But the theory of punctuated equilibrium is oversold by the media, or at least it was. The mere fact that a disagreement existed within evolutionary biology, led some mistaken pundits to portray punctuated equilibrium as a new contender to natural selection. If they avoided this error, then they invariably portray puncuated equilibrium as a radical reworking of standard evolutionary theory. In fact, punctuated equilibrium is neither.

    Basically, the theory of punctuated equilibrium is that species evolve in stops and starts, short bursts punctuating long periods of equilibrium. First, evolution still occurs by natural selection; the varying rate of evolutionary change is the matter of contention, not the process of natural selection itself. Second, the short bursts of evolution are to be interpreted by evolutionary time, where short might mean 100,000 years or more. Third, punctuated equilibrium sets itself up against a straw man, and can only offer insight to those who hold onto the naive theory that evolutionary change is constant.

    The notion that evolutionary change is not constant is already implicit in the standard model; any evolutionary biologist worth his salt should be aware of evolutionary strategies, which in mathematical models can arrive at an equilibrium i.e. evolutionary stable strategy (ESS). A true ESS may never occur outside of idealised world of mathematics, but ecosystems will sometimes reach a close approximation, thus preserving the species who form it from much evolutionary change.

    If such an approximised ESS did exist, we would expect any successful mutation, newly introduced species, climate change etc. to have a consequences on the whole ecosystem, spurring the rapid evolution of new characteristics to solve the adaptive problems posed by changing circumstances. Then, after some of rapid evolutionary change, in response to fluctuating selection pressures, a new ESS will eventually be arrived at, and will remain approximately stable until the next time.

    This is only scratching the surface if we wish to explain how evolution occurs at varying rates, and none of it is inconsistent with punctuated equilibrium. Gould's theory seems altogether redundant, good only for rebutting a straw man. That would be entirely consistent with other straw men Gould liked to criticise, while dressing such criticism in impressive verbiage. I think Dawkins' recognised this, and has little time for punctuated equilibrium, or its popular portrayal.
    A criticism that can be brought against everything ought not to be brought against anything.

  2. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by booyalab View Post
    ugh.

    here's a quote by a critic in the London Review of Books that sums up my view of this man nicely
    Perhaps you could be uncharacteristic in your method and actually expand on the parts which are wrong.

  3. #13
    Senior Member wyrdsister's Avatar
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    Dawkins is interesting, but appears to be the antithesis of a religious person, as if he is religious in his atheism, if that makes sense. But I do respect him and I've seen quite a few of his documentaries.
    Wyrd is a concept in Anglo-Saxon and Nordic culture roughly corresponding to fate. It is ancestral to Modern English weird, which has acquired a very different meaning.

  4. #14
    Senior Member Jasz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nocturne View Post
    But the theory of punctuated equilibrium is oversold by the media, or at least it was. The mere fact that a disagreement existed within evolutionary biology, led some mistaken pundits to portray punctuated equilibrium as a new contender to natural selection. If they avoided this error, then they invariably portray puncuated equilibrium as a radical reworking of standard evolutionary theory. In fact, punctuated equilibrium is neither.

    Basically, the theory of punctuated equilibrium is that species evolve in stops and starts, short bursts punctuating long periods of equilibrium. First, evolution still occurs by natural selection; the varying rate of evolutionary change is the matter of contention, not the process of natural selection itself. Second, the short bursts of evolution are to be interpreted by evolutionary time, where short might mean 100,000 years or more. Third, punctuated equilibrium sets itself up against a straw man, and can only offer insight to those who hold onto the naive theory that evolutionary change is constant.

    The notion that evolutionary change is not constant is already implicit in the standard model; any evolutionary biologist worth his salt should be aware of evolutionary strategies, which in mathematical models can arrive at an equilibrium i.e. evolutionary stable strategy (ESS). A true ESS may never occur outside of idealised world of mathematics, but ecosystems will sometimes reach a close approximation, thus preserving the species who form it from much evolutionary change.

    If such an approximised ESS did exist, we would expect any successful mutation, newly introduced species, climate change etc. to have a consequences on the whole ecosystem, spurring the rapid evolution of new characteristics to solve the adaptive problems posed by changing circumstances. Then, after some of rapid evolutionary change, in response to fluctuating selection pressures, a new ESS will eventually be arrived at, and will remain approximately stable until the next time.

    This is only scratching the surface if we wish to explain how evolution occurs at varying rates, and none of it is inconsistent with punctuated equilibrium. Gould's theory seems altogether redundant, good only for rebutting a straw man. That would be entirely consistent with other straw men Gould liked to criticise, while dressing such criticism in impressive verbiage. I think Dawkins' recognised this, and has little time for punctuated equilibrium, or its popular portrayal.
    this was probably the first post longer than a couple of sentences that i read entirely since a long discussion between helios and macguffin on preferences some time ago on intpcentral. thanks nocturne.
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  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jasz View Post
    this was probably the first post longer than a couple of sentences that i read entirely since a long discussion between helios and macguffin on preferences some time ago on intpcentral. thanks nocturne.
    I wrote a long post once?

  6. #16
    Senior Member Jasz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacGuffin View Post
    I wrote a long post once?
    this was - i think - a lenghty back-and-forth of pm's which you later posted as a separate thread.
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