Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Something Else Going On.

Having now pissed off all the religious people and all the Harley guys (and the latter is probably safer, since they'll just beat me to death with the Harley tool of choice, whereas the religious folk tend to have all sorts of interesting solutions to the problem of what they might define as heresy.) and probably the atheists and agnostics, too (do they have a plan for dealing with, um, what we might call anti-heresy? a-heresy? a-heretics?) ...

Anyway. Let's piss off the scientists.

Some of them, anyway. The old school traditionalists.

Here we go.

Several blogs ago (you should go look - it's the Free Will - Get Over It. Or not. blog), there were some articles.

The first one said that free will, just like everything else, has to have evolutionary origins and therefore is just a genetic byproduct, just the DNA that each one of us inherited from all of our ancestors. Everything biological is a product of evolution, and that's true for the brain, and that's where free will would be, and so all of our decisions are predetermined by our genetics, and so we don't have free will.

And there were all these experiments that seem to say that we don't have free will.

Until in the second article, there was an even better experiment using an MRI that actually observed free will apparently happening in the brain.

And then, of course, in the final article, there is the reality that we'll never really understand the brain, anyway. So we're never really going to know whether or not we have free will based on any kind of scientific evidence.

I read something else about that the other day - someone said that if the brain were simple enough for us to understand it, we'd be too simple to understand it.


Let's assume for a minute that the absolutely positively latest and best experiment, the one that says we have free will based on the MRI evidence, let's assume that one is correct.

Let's assume that we have free will.

Standard Darwinian evolutionary theory says we can't have free will. Neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory says we can't have free will.

But, today at least, we do.

Hmmm. That is a conundrum.

So either evolutionary theory the way that we understand it is generally wrong, or specifically wrong.

Let's assume that it's generally right, but specifically wrong. Like, in this case.

So what does that mean?

Well. Regular old evolutionary theory says that random mutation provides a gene by complete accident that happens at a certain moment in time and space to provide for better survivability, and that gene is then selected for, and so it goes.

What if there's something else going on?

You should keep reading now even if you're upset.

Well. Here's part of an article from NewScientist for you to read and consider:

In recent years, our understanding of biology has taken huge strides. Advances in genetics, epigenetics and developmental biology challenge us to think anew about the relationship between genes, organisms and the environment, with implications for the origins of diversity and the direction and speed of evolution.

In particular, new findings undermine the idea, encapsulated by the
“selfish gene” metaphor, that genes are in the driving seat. Instead, they suggest that organisms play active, constructive roles in their own development and that of their descendants, so that they impose direction on evolution.

Some biologists are trying to shoehorn the new knowledge into

traditional evolutionary thinking. Others, myself included, believe a more radical approach may be required. We don’t deny the roles of genetic inheritance and natural selection, but think we should look at evolution in a markedly different way. 

It is time for the theory of evolution to evolve.

We now know that things other than genes are transmitted from parents to offspring...

These and many other findings suggest that the current focus on genetic mutations only captures part of the story of adaptive evolution – the slowly changing part. The broader view shows there are other ways to generate heritable variety.

And that’s not all. We now also know that a given set of genes has the potential to produce a variety of phenotypes, depending on the environment in which the organism develops.

This ability, called developmental plasticity, used to be dismissed as

“noise” or mere “fine-tuning”, but recent research suggests it may play a far more active role in the evolutionary process. As well as being able to respond in specific ways to particular conditions, organisms seem to have evolved the ability to respond flexibly to whatever conditions they experience...

This allows systems such as the immune system, nervous system and behavioural systems (through learning) to adjust to meet whatever environment the individual faces.

Perhaps, rather than merely setting limits on what forms are available for selection, developmental bias directs evolution by generating the tramlines along which the engine of selection can proceed.

The article goes on. You can read it here - https://www.facebook.com/www.lifeuniverseverything.org/posts/10154012596767428

or if you have a subscription, at NewScientist.com.

So. Here's what we're suggesting.

Free will is not a product of random mutation and natural selection.

It's a product of directed evolution.

Now that is really gonna make absolutely everybody upset.

You need to remember, though, that if there is no free will, then you can't be upset at me because my DNA made me do it.

And if there is free will, then you can't be upset at me because, heck, there is free will.

Trapped like rats. Don't you hate that?

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