Macrevo does not come from microevo

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Macrevo does not come from microevo

Postby Atheoscanadensis » Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:24 am

Hello folk, I have a problem. We have all heard the creationist claim that microevolution does not become macroevolution and the common response is basically "Well then explain how small mutations are prevented from accumulating to produce macroevolutionary change". But recently I have been pointed to several sources from real journals that seem to agree with the creationist position to a certain degree. For example:

Is a New Evolutionary Synthesis Necessary? Stebbins and Ayala 1981

A Theory of Evolution Above the Species Level, Stanley 1975

Evolution Theory Under Fire, Lewin 1980


The fellow says this:

In the 1980's, several 100's of evos leading scholars/expert scientists met a few times to discuss these problems which were published in Science & other journals.

"the neo-Darwinian mechanism (of mutations working with natural selection) could NO longer be regarded as scientifically valid or tenable. Neither the origin nor diversity of living creatures could be explained by evolutionary theory" - Lewin, R., “Evolution Theory Under Fire,” Science,

At Chicago Evo Conference in 1980, “The central question was whether the mechanisms underlying micro-evolution can be extrapolated to explain the phenomena of macro-evolution. ...the answer can be given as a clear, NO.” [ibid; Newsweek. Nov.

3, 1980; G.R. Taylor, Great Evolution Mystery, 1983, p. 55,]
Also major Dawinian synthesis contributor (do you know why there was a synthesis?), Francisco Ayala said "We would not have predicted stasis from population genetics, but I am now convinced from what the paleontologists say that SMALL CHANGES DO NOT Accumulate"



Now that fact that these are all approximately from the early 80s means this is not new. So am I just misunderstanding the intent of these papers or have I really just been unaware of this position on macroevoluion? It feels like it has to do with punctuated equilibria, but I'm not sure. What do you guys think? I am somewhat flummoxed.
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Re: Macrevo does not come from microevo

Postby Brian Jordan » Sat Oct 05, 2013 10:19 am

It's hardly worth stressing that all the above is from around 35 years ago - the IDCreationists will only claim a cover-up.
Anyway, starting at the bottom,
Gordon Rattray Taylor was born in Eastbourne on 11 January 1911, and educated at Radley College public school, before studying natural sciences at Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1933 he entered journalism. During the war he worked in the Psychological Warfare division of SHAEF. In 1958 he joined the BBC where he wrote and devised science television programs such as Eye on Research. In 1966 he became a full-time author. He served as a member of the Society for Psychical Research, London (1976–81).
<snip>
Taylor supported Lamarck over Darwin.[2]
<snip>
Mark Ridley negatively reviewed the book concluding that Taylor had a "complete lack of biological imagination". Ridley states that Taylor appears to have failed to have familiarised himself with Darwinian thinking before criticising it, and particularly that Taylor has made the "familiar and elementary" mistake of conflating natural selection with chance:

He has confused the random process of variation with the directing process of natural selection.

Ridley states that Taylor's alternative to Darwinian evolution is described "only in general outline", involving "Lamarckism and other inarticulated internal factors".[5]
(My emphasis) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Rattray_Taylor
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Re: Macrevo does not come from microevo

Postby Brian Jordan » Sat Oct 05, 2013 11:02 am

Pending any discussion of the other articles - if they're accessible - it might be worth linking to the Panda's Thumb Macroevolution FAQ from 2006:
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/macroevolution.html

BTW, I was tempted to move this thread to Science Only, but since it's about a creationist Article of Faith I'll leave it here where it might get more exposure and see how it goes.
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Re: Macrevo does not come from microevo

Postby Atheoscanadensis » Sun Oct 06, 2013 4:12 am

Okay, this turned into a real bruiser of a post while I was writing, but bear with me. Or not, it's up to you!

BTW, I was tempted to move this thread to Science Only, but since it's about a creationist Article of Faith I'll leave it here where it might get more exposure and see how it goes.


Thanks Brian. I was somewhat unsure of where to put it as well, but I came to the same conclusion you did.

Gordon Rattray Taylor was born in Eastbourne on 11 January 1911, and educated at Radley College public school, before studying natural sciences at Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1933 he entered journalism. During the war he worked in the Psychological Warfare division of SHAEF. In 1958 he joined the BBC where he wrote and devised science television programs such as Eye on Research. In 1966 he became a full-time author. He served as a member of the Society for Psychical Research, London (1976–81).
<snip>
Taylor supported Lamarck over Darwin.[2]
<snip>
Mark Ridley negatively reviewed the book concluding that Taylor had a "complete lack of biological imagination". Ridley states that Taylor appears to have failed to have familiarised himself with Darwinian thinking before criticising it, and particularly that Taylor has made the "familiar and elementary" mistake of conflating natural selection with chance:

He has confused the random process of variation with the directing process of natural selection.


Thanks for clearing that up about Taylor's credentials. But it there are others of course. The problem seems to be at least in part one resulting from uncertain definitions. Perhaps. What I am thinking when I so confidently challenge someone to provide some mechanism that prevents small changes from aggregating to produce major change is this: genetic changes and the resulting incremental phenotypic shifts accumulate until the new phenotype is in a quite different part of "design space". This seems logical to me. But according to biochemistry prof Laurence Moran (http://bioinfo.med.utoronto.ca/Evolutio ... ution.html) macroevolution in the formal sense is better understood as a field of study pertaining to large-scale things like long-term trends and causes of speciation.

So surely these scientists aren't saying that natural selection etc. is certainly responsible for minor, small-scale changes but not for things like the transition from fish to tetrapod. Tell me if you agree or not, but what I'm gathering is that these scientists do agree that microevolutionary processes like natural selection are fundamentally producing the change and the raw material of changes but that there are many other processes at work (like plate tectonics, meteorite, species selection). That's the impression I get from Moran anyway:

Nobody denies that macroevolutionary processes involve the fundamental mechanisms of natural selection and random genetic drift, but these microevolutionary processes are not sufficient, by themselves, to explain the history of life. That's why, in the domain of macroevolution, we encounter theories about species sorting and tracking, species selection, and punctuated equilibria.


So these scientists aren't saying that microevolutionary processes are separate from those influencing macroevolutionary patterns. Rather they are at work in addition to larger scale macroevolutionary processes like plate tectonics that obviously aren't governed by genetics and the microevolutionary processes associated therewith. So when this fellow crows that "Micro is forever "decoupled" from Macro!", this is really simplification to the point of misrepresentation. Yes, macroevolutionary processes are distinct from microevolutionary processes and the latter are not sufficient on their own to account for the large-scale patterns we see, but both are at work in shaping life. In other words, microevolutionary processes supply the change and the ability to change and macroevlutionary processes shape that change and dictate the larger patterns or trends in that change. It's hard to say if it's a particularly insidious quote mine or if he just got so excited when he read it that he jumped to the conclusion he wanted without bothering to properly understand what was being said. I can see how he may have been led astray by the quote (or, as it turns out, misquote) from Ayala : "I am now convinced from what the paleontologists say that SMALL CHANGES DO NOT Accumulate" and if he only looked on the creationist sites I think he would be justified in the impression he draws from it. But when one goes straight to the source (Dr. Ayala was contacted about this alleged quote: http://www.noanswersingenesis.org.au/an ... _quote.htm), one gets this response:

I don't know how Roger Lewin could have gotten in his notes the quotation he attributes to me. I presented a paper/lecture and spoke at various times from the floor, but I could not possibly have said (at least as a complete sentence) what Lewin attributes to me. In fact, I don't know what it means. How could small changes NOT accumulate! In any case, virtually all my evolutionary research papers evidence that small (genetic) changes do accumulate.


So it seems in general that this guys is quote mining or at least grossly misinterpreting what the scientists are saying. Except for the Colin Patterson quote, which confuses me. My interlocutor writes:

In 1981 at NYC Evo Conference, Colin Patterson declared that evolution was “positively anti-knowledge” and, “All my life I had been DUPED into taking evolution as Revealed truth.”


Further similar quotes from Patterson can be found here: http://bevets.com/equotesp.htm

The weird thing is this page (of which you're probably aware) addresses a Patterson quote mine: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/patterson.html

On this page Patterson himself, in a reply dated 1993, makes it clear that he very much supports evolution. This is perplexing considering in 1981 he supposedly decried evolution vehemently, according to the bevets.com page. On the Talk origins page Patterson makes it clear that he was talking specifically about systematics in that particular case. Is that what's going on with these other quotes? I mean he does characterize his beliefs as antievolutionary or non-evolutionary, which seems pretty unequivocal. It's also weird that the bevets.com page attributes quotes to him in 1999, a year after his death. Are these quotes misinterpreted, mis-attributed, made up or did he change his mind afterwards?

Phew! That's a bit of a clunker, but there you go.
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Re: Macrevo does not come from microevo

Postby a_haworthroberts » Sun Oct 06, 2013 4:51 am

Science denier David Menton at AiG recently mentioned the Lewin micro/macro comment from 1980 (made 'several' years ago according to Menton) in an AiG podcast this past week.

Please see my posts at 1.46 am and 2.05 am BST 03.10.13 here if you have not already done so.
viewtopic.php?f=18&t=2970&start=630

FWIW the quoted Lewin comment can be viewed in its actual context at this link: https://www.sciencemag.org/content/210/4472/883.extract

I realise this might comment not add that much to the sum of human knowledge.
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Re: Macrevo does not come from microevo

Postby cathy » Sun Oct 06, 2013 10:34 am

So surely these scientists aren't saying that natural selection etc. is certainly responsible for minor, small-scale changes but not for things like the transition from fish to tetrapod.
But if you look at the transition from fish to tetropod what you are a observing in, say the move from fins of fish to limbs of tetropod and beyond to us or elephants, is simply differential growth rates in different bones and a differential in how strong they are? With each stage giving an advantage. Limbs and fins are the same bones in different proportions aren't they? slow changes in proportion? Likewise things like the recurrent laryngeal nerve, a move from something in fish to something else in land dwellers with differential growth in different species so that becomes ridiculous in giraffes. But its transition from fish to giraffe can be understood as small microevolutionary changes. Or the slow movement of bones in a reptilian jaw towards the inner ear of mammals.

macroevolution in the formal sense is better understood as a field of study pertaining to large-scale things like long-term trends and causes of speciation.


and
So these scientists aren't saying that microevolutionary processes are separate from those influencing macroevolutionary patterns.
Hmm doesn't sound like it. Isn't that like saying that astronomical distances are best understood in terms of decametres whilst the size of atoms is best understodd in terms of pico or that other units are best described in terms of derived units. Macroevolution and microevolution are odd terms. Yes it is better to understand long term trends in different way but that doesn't change anything about how those long term trends came about in the short term.

Plus both take into account the role of mutations and both take into account the role environment plays in natural selection. Big changes in environment will speed up natural selection.

I think your creationist pal has got over excited and you are right. There is nothing in that article other than different ways of looking at trends due to their different natures.
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Re: Macrevo does not come from microevo

Postby Brian Jordan » Sun Oct 06, 2013 2:10 pm

cathy wrote:Plus both take into account the role of mutations and both take into account the role environment plays in natural selection. Big changes in environment will speed up natural selection.

I think your creationist pal has got over excited and you are right. There is nothing in that article other than different ways of looking at trends due to their different natures.
Exactly! One of the bits I looked up complained that microevolution leading to macroevolution didn't take into account such things as plate tectonics and so was wrong! Ignorant, disingenuous or just plain lying? It read as though he was trying to drag in the old false dichotomy of uniformity v catastrophe. No wonder the stuff's been buried these 30 years or more.
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Re: Macrevo does not come from microevo

Postby Atheoscanadensis » Sun Oct 06, 2013 5:37 pm

Please see my posts at 1.46 am and 2.05 am BST 03.10.13 here if you have not already done so.


I have done so and followed the link. And what did I find? Proof that the Lewin did not say in Evolutionary Theory under firethat micro and macroevolution were completely decoupled. The quote my interlocutor posted:

The central question was whether the mechanisms underlying micro-evolution can be extrapolated to explain the phenomena of macro-evolution. ...the answer can be given as a clear, NO


Is followed immediately by

What is not so clear, however, is whether microevolution is totally decoupled from macroevolution: the two can more probably be seen as a continuum with notable overlap


This indicates to me that when Lewin misquotes Ayala as saying that small changes do not accumulate he probably isn't trying to say microevolutionary changes can't aggregate, simply that they aren't solely responsible for the large scale trends. Things like plate tectonics are non-genetic and thus non-microevolutioanry forces that can affect broad evolutioanry trends, but microevolutionary forces are still producing the raw change by responding to these large-scale factors.

An odd thing: my interlocutor (whom I assume copied and pasted from a place like this: http://books.google.ca/books?id=gKaXywU ... ee&f=false) attributes this quote:
the neo-Darwinian mechanism (of mutations working with natural selection) could NO longer be regarded as scientifically valid or tenable. Neither the origin nor diversity of living creatures could be explained by evolutionary theory


to Lewin in Evolutionary theory under fire. I read ETUF and that quote appears nowhere. So did Taylor just make it up (the book I linked attributes the alleged Lewin quote to a book by Taylor)? Or did he just get confused by a quote from an entirely different person? And what do you guys think about the strange disconnect between Patterson's 1980s words on this site: ttp://bevets.com/equotesp.htm and his late 90s words in the email he wrote? (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/patterson.html )
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Re: Macrevo does not come from microevo

Postby a_haworthroberts » Sun Oct 06, 2013 7:05 pm

In reply to Atheoscanadensis - I noticed the further Lewin "What ... overlap" sentence that you quote above the other day. But I was not sure how significant it was or how much it actually added that the apparently deliberate omission of it by creationists was felt necessary by such folk, so did not cite it in a post.

With just the bit the YECs etc quote it sounds like Lewin said (doing 'violence' to some) that either some unknown mechanisms were required to account for macrevo or that perhaps only microevo occurs. But the balancing sentence suggests the probable decoupling of the two outcomes/processes isn't complete ie they overlap at least a little. Of course it's all more than 30 years old - which of course suits 'behind the times' YECs.

It's certainly clear to me that David Menton verbally misrepresented Lewin.

I've not read all the posts and links in this thread btw.
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Re: Macrevo does not come from microevo

Postby Atheoscanadensis » Sun Oct 06, 2013 8:55 pm

It's certainly clear to me that David Menton verbally misrepresented Lewin.


Yup. Seems to be a lot of that going around in the creationist camp.

I've not read all the posts and links in this thread btw.


Did you see the quote attributed by Taylor to Lewin that says evolutionary theory is insufficient to explain the diversity of life? Taylor attributes it to Lewin in Evolutionary Theory under fire but the quotation does not appear there. What's up with that? Rank dishonesty? Simple confusion?

And what about Colin Patterson quotes from 1981 in which he characterizes his views as anti-evolutionary? That doesn't make jive with the letter he sent in 1993 to deal with being quote mined. Are the quotes on that page (http://bevets.com/equotesp.htm) just made up? Are there two different Colin Pattersons? What's going on?
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Re: Macrevo does not come from microevo

Postby a_haworthroberts » Sun Oct 06, 2013 9:26 pm

I've only heard of one palaeontologist named Colin Patterson (there was also Clair Patterson geochemist).
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Re: Macrevo does not come from microevo

Postby Atheoscanadensis » Mon Oct 07, 2013 2:34 am

a_haworthroberts wrote:I've only heard of one palaeontologist named Colin Patterson (there was also Clair Patterson geochemist).


So what is with the incredibly discrepant views of his feeling toward evolution between the 1981 quotes and the 1993 quote? Is this a mystery?
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Re: Macrevo does not come from microevo

Postby Roger Stanyard » Mon Oct 07, 2013 7:55 pm

Atheoscanadensis wrote: But according to biochemistry prof Laurence Moran (http://bioinfo.med.utoronto.ca/Evolutio ... ution.html) macroevolution in the formal sense is better understood as a field of study pertaining to large-scale things like long-term trends and causes of speciation.


Larry Moran (who I have met) is a ferocious critic of creationism. Quote mining him to question evolutionary biology won't work.

Atheoscanadensis wrote:
In 1981 at NYC Evo Conference, Colin Patterson declared that evolution was “positively anti-knowledge” and, “All my life I had been DUPED into taking evolution as Revealed truth.”


Colin Patterson spent years trying to fight off creationists whole misquoted what he said. He was thoroughly pissed off with them. Unless, of course, he was a fraud, as you seem to be suggesting.
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Re: Macrevo does not come from microevo

Postby Peter Henderson » Tue Oct 08, 2013 10:56 am

The problem YECs have with the micro/macro evolution thing is all to do with geological time.

YECs can't deny evolution. because the process has been "observed", albeit on a minor scale (the birds are still birds, the dogs are still dogs, the bacteria are still bacteria etc. etc. etc.)

However, if we accept millions and billions of years then the "micro" evolution can become "macro" evolution, given enough "time". YECs realise this, which is why a 6,000 year old Earth is so important, even more so than "evolution" itself. So they need the term "micro" evolution to explain "variation within a created kind". This isn't what scientists mean by evolution, and it's why Comfort asked the question "can you give an example of one kind changing into another". In a 6,000 year time frame this would of course be impossible.

At least that's my understanding of YEC thought.

It's why I wonder about the ID movement and why no one asks people like Behe, Dembski, and even our own Dr. Glass to explain their understanding of geological time. You can waffle on about "complex" biological systems all you like, but in the context of a 6,000 year old Earth it all becomes meaningless.
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Re: Macrevo does not come from microevo

Postby Christine Janis » Thu Oct 10, 2013 1:48 am

And what do you guys think about the strange disconnect between Patterson's 1980s words on this site: ttp://bevets.com/equotesp.htm and his late 90s words in the email he wrote? (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/patterson.html )


A lot of Patterson's quotemines come from the days when he was supporting the (then new) cladistic approach to systematics. The original aim of cladistics (as used by Patterson and other paleontologists in the early 80s) was to reveal the *pattern* of evolution (i.e., the sets of nested hierarchies) without reference to the *process* (i.e., scenarios of why something might have happened a certain way), so that then the pattern can be used to test the process.

So, many apparently "antievolution" quotes made by Patterson relate to him being a little scathing about those people who mixed up pattern and process, and sought to find actual ancestors in the fossil record. Of course, Patterson himself did not think that evolution was not a valid hypothesis --- one only need reference his books and articles on the subject. Plus I knew Patterson personally and can affirm this.
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