Posted by: graemebird | December 20, 2009

Dr David Berlinski On Intelligent Design.

Brought forward on account of the goldfish not perceiving the entity of water, now that they are in a bowl.

Brought forward on account of the fish not being able to tell the difference between SWIMMING, and movement, per se.

I believe in evolution. Its embarrassing to have to make that confession, since science isn’t about BELIEF!!!!!!

That I had to make that confession, is a testimony of unscience, in those pushing the mainstream VIEW of evolution.

Even smart people who are busy could have been aneasthetized by the wrongness of current theory. Listen to Berlinski and realize there are many things in the air. We have got to get back to the real scientific method. There are many things wrong with the current view. On account of you being a stressed and busy goldfish, in a stressed and busy bowl.

Absolutely stupendous playlist talking about intelligent design versus contemporary Darwinian theory. Unfortunately contemporary Darwinian theory is crap. This is not to say that some sort of evolution isn’t a done deal. Just not the version as is commonly understood. So much more must be going into this story than natural selection, only indigenous to this planet. This cannot be the whole of the mechanism. I would recommend that any serious thinker ought to listen to the entire playlist.

So what other possible mechanisms can there be? Well I don’t know but we ought to suspect many of them, including intermittent intelligent interference.


1. Multiple near-extinction events that open up many niches but do not show up in the fossil record.

2. The possibility that we may have orbital relations with other solar systems, that lead to us coming into contact with many other planets every so often. I’m not talking about Zachariah Sichen and anything like a 3600 year cycle. More like the possibility of something of this sort happening every few millions of years. Most solar systems in the galaxy are dual or multiple star systems. But it might be that even more of them are but with very long orbital cycles.

3. Lemarkian mechanisms. Some of which may lay dormant for some times. At least one Lemarkian effect has been shown via so-called epi-genetics. I had earlier claimed that this had to be the case on an apriori basis. But there could be more Lemarkian mechanisms that we don’t yet know about.

4. The evolution of animals on many different planets under many different conditions being transferred to many other planets. For example flight could more easily have been evolved when and if this planet had a much thicker atmosphere and a much lesser gravity. Actually we know that we used to have a much weaker gravity or the dinosaurs could not have gotten as big as they did. And it is the way of things for planets to start small and grow. But in any case flight must have evolved on a planet with less gravity then we now have. Once it had evolved, this ability, could likely be transplanted to other planets. And likewise other abilities could be transferred in this way.

5. A far far longer time for the evolution to have taken place. We know that this is the case anyway, since the big bang is nonsense. And since the natural way of things is for planets, stars and galaxies to grow, but for the galaxies to cull planets and stars, disproportionately near their centre. Thus evolution will begin near the centre of small galaxies but then intelligent life must travel further out, if it is to survive. In doing so that intelligent life would naturally take genetic material further out from the centre of a developing galaxy. This effectively gives us an evolutionary time period of many hundreds of billions of years. And not one bounded by the four billion years that the earth is supposed to have been around. Or even the 13.5 billion years that the big bangers idiotically claim that the universe has been around.

6. Traditional Panspermia at the cellular level.

There has to be many more possibilities. But anyhow listen to what Berlinski has to say. I’ve not been able to get this point through to other people with the help of other thinkers. But this Berlinski appears to be particularly persuasive.




  2. See you’ve nothing have you Cambria. Just remember you are a dumb wop mate. You cannot have input into any matter that takes any brainpower.

    Just go to the mirror and keep repeating to yourself that you are a stupid, bailed-out, subsidised, dumb-wop. And that this is what happens when we subsidise an industry. Stupid morons getting above themselves.


    What is that supposed to mean birdlab you dumb twat? I just pointed out quite rightly that the big bang was rubbish. Thats just a fact. And the acknowledgement of this fact doesn’t commit me any further than just expressing this particular truth.

    The Big Bang is no “Explanation of the universe” if this is what you are implying. The Big Bang is not only wrong, idiotic, and baseless, but it solves no knotty problems to do with the fact that existence exists. Did you really imagine that the Big Bang “explains the universe?”.

    No great philosophical adept you hey? Not really up on philosophical analysis hey?

    No you are a dummy. The big bang explains nothing. Its a confession of scientific ineptitude. It tips us off to same. But the Big Bang theory explains nothing at all.

  4. Birdy do you want a serious non polemical discussion on intelligent design or will you just delete anything I say?

    The ball is in your court.

  5. Sure. But

    1. you must understand. Neither I nor the fellow in the video are advocates of intelligent design as any over-riding mechanism of evolution. I myself have never postulated divine intervention of any sort. I’m an atheist. I just think there is more going on than natural selection. I’ve already seen how there is at least one Lemarkian effect already discovered. A few more of those could help explain most of what we see.

    2. Don’t try and pull this leftist reversal where its me wiping thoughtful comments. Thats Bahnisch and his bully-boys and the global warming morons that do that. You don’t want to be creating the wrong impression here.

  6. How does natural selection account for most males having this inversion, wherein the hair is on their chest, rather than their back. That looks like a botched experimental job more than anything else. Some people in a big fat hurry.

    How does natural selection account for us having two less chromosones then primates? Thats pretty weird right there. Again it looks like a rushed and botched job at gene-mixing. You want to mix two species but you cannot because they don’t have the same chromosone number. So you do a bit of chromosone stitching. Something fast and nasty.

  7. There is more going on than natural selection:

    ie Genetic drift, linkage, sexual selection etc.

    The consensus is that natural selection is the major mechanism. Larmarkianism is not totally out of the question, but it would appear to have only miniscule impact as a mechanism:

    Re your points 4 and 6 which seem to be inter-related. What is a possibility that abiogenesis (the event of the first self replicating molecule, which only had to happen once) may have occurred elsewhere in the universe and earth was “seeded” by bacteria. Abiogenesis is distinct from evolution, a division that some people (mainly creationists) incorrectly conflate.

    We’ll probably never know if we were seeded (panspermia) or if abiogenesis occurred on earth. This does not preclude abiogenesis having occurred on other planets in “goldilocks” zones in particular solar systems in the universe. It’s possible that abiogenesis can be reproduced one day in the lab, of which the Urey Miller experiments were, if you like, a preliminary step.

    What will be interesting is that we are close to being able to detect earth size exo-planets and after that, may then be able to detect life on them.

    Berlinski is not persuasive to me:

    Berlinski is a critic, a contrarian, and—by his own admission—a crank. But he is not a religious man. He’s a zealous skeptic, more concerned with false gods than real ones. According to The Devil’s Delusion, the emergence of the New Atheists—i.e., Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and the others who have lately ridiculed the belief in God—marks the consolidation of science as its own religion, a hateful “militant church” that demands strict adherence to the First Commandment. The scientists speak of incontrovertible fact, but Berlinski wants to show otherwise; he subjects scientific belief to his own rigorous investigation and finds it riddled with uncertainty.

    In other words, he’s outside the tent of mainstream of science trying to piss in


    (same link above) He uses uncertainty to challenge the scientific consensus; he points to the evidence that isn’t there and seeks out the things that can’t be proved. In its extreme and ideological form, this contrarian approach to science can turn into a form of paranoia—a state of permanent suspicion and outrage.

    Science of course needs skeptics, it’s a very necessary part of methodological naturalism–note how the “cold fusion” thing was debunked, it could not be replicated. But I don’t think Berlinski is an exemplar in the scientific world–he knocks the scientific world for the sake of knocking, calls it a hateful militant church.


    • You are all over the place here Kemp. You might want to concentrate a bit better and find what you think is a serious argument. This is not Prodeo. You cannot just jibber around the subject like Mark Bahnisch or someone. Try a bit harder.

  8. lAmarkian graeme and the Aus scientist Ted Steele has been arguing black and blue for 25 years that it does exist, at least at the function of immune genes. Has a book on it: Lamarck’s signature. Also a video on it “Ted’s Evolution”. But of course any suggestion of Lamarkian inheritance is treated as heresy.

  9. And,

    I have never been happy with the “given enough time this or that will evolve” argument. That is not a scientific argument it is a faith based argument. I don’t like the creationist arguments, or those from intelligent design, but the simple fact is that there are a great many mysteries in evolution and these are all too conveniently ignored. Even when you begin to learn about the intricate processes that occur within a single cell you should, if you are intelligent and brave, begin to realise that the idea that this structure arose though natural selection is a fucking astronomical play against the odds.

  10. My apriori argument went like this:

    If two billion years ago, an organism discovered some Lamarkian way of passing on adaptation through the generations, then this would confer such an advantage to this organisms line, that Lamarkian advantages would tend to win out.

    Now it might be that such Lamarkian processes are pretty feeble and few. But they ought to be there and they ought to amount to something.

    Total heresy by the usual suspects. Calling me Stalinist be some indirect association with some communist bigshots. Any excuse or putdown will do with the toadies.

    The other thing is that the relevant period of evolution has got to be longer than merely 4 billion years. And there is no reason not to assume a bit of infrequent Von Daniken-lite behaviour going on. I’m not talking about Von Daniken behaviour on the scale of once every few thousand years. But its simply unreasonable to rule out such intervention at a more infrequent level. Since we ourselves would willingly try to terraform some of the moons of Jupiter if it ever became cost-effective to do so from a remote vantage point.

    So right there we probably can fill in a lot of the picture without recourse to religious belief. But this toadying attitude to natural-selection-alone really is unscience. And really is unacceptable in its bigotry and hubris.

  11. Two billion years ago it did happen and was first documented by Barbara McClintock in the 30’s when she was studying maize. Horizontal gene transfer. The effect is most pronounced in bacteria and explains their rapid evolution. Bacteria release “plasmids”, packets of DNA, and when stressed, release these at a high rate which are then taken up by surrounding bacteria. These plasmids can often contain genes to fight against our antibiotics and other potential threats, hence a bacterium’s DNA is not confined to itself, it has an incredible DNA array to aid its survival.

    Stalinist, the fools were thinking of Lysenko. We are dealing with empirically derived information, not ideologically driven dribble.

  12. Right. But this stuff by Barbara. Its pretty new findings isn’t it?

    Oh wait a minute. So she had the evidence right back in the 30’s and the science-maffia blocked her out. Look you’ve got to tell these people at Catallaxy about this. They don’t realise how bloody awful the science institutional bigshots are. They are just atrocious. And the Catallaxy people do not realise it.

  13. This really shits me it does.

    About our own evolution. I don’t think we can rightly exclude alien intervention. But for arguments sakes if I do so, I’ve almost got to, without any doubt at all, interpolate many hundreds of thousands, if not millions of years, of coastal living, with infrequent breeding with the inlander primates. Otherwise I cannot see the credibility of our evolution.

    And also I’ve got to interpolate that these long undocumented coastal living forays were in a niche that just didn’t make it into the fossil record. What I’m saying is that the niche is just not conducive to fossils. So that the fossil record isn’t the record of our evolution at all. Only of inland forays.

    Otherwise I cannot see how standard views of our evolution make any sense. And to me its unscientific to completely rule out infrequent Von Daniken lite intervention.

    The standard view just looks so untenable to me.

  14. Graeme,

    Let me give you an example I received just yesterday by email by an acquaintance who is a visiting professor of psychology at a USA university. He states, and has for many years, that the entire field of psychology is polluted by animistic notions and that this is also polluting findings in neurobiology. My former collaborator, a quite brilliant man who worked at a leading US rehab hospital as a neuropsychologist, has basically said the same thing.

    If you want an example of how evolutionary biology gets all screwed up consider the arguments purporting to prove that altruism is just genes acting in their own interest. There is one simple response to this nonsense: how does caring about animals support this notion? The selfish gene concept is a classic example of a scientist stupidly using moral terms to explain non moral functions. Idiot.

    Look, you understand this to some extent but I’m not sure you fully comprehend the depth of the problem. Science is no panacea for our cognitive shortcomings, groupthink is everywhere and science is no exception. Read Feyerabend.

    As you know, I read a lot of science news and I am consistently surprised at research news claiming some breakthrough when I know damn well that those findings have been around for years. Science has become dominated by careerism and the authority fallacy is still very prominent. Science would be better served if scientists did not have to publish x number of papers per year or seek tenure etc etc. This is a very serious problem in modern science.

    Catallaxy. Nah, I’m now the protagonist, I’m not there to teach them anything.

  15. I did not know the extent of groupthink and the authority fallacy in science until the last couple of years. Now I just imagine things are always even worse than they appear.

    But in fact these things are worse in science than anywhere else. They are incredible. If there is a competitor for how bad things are it could only be in economics. But its gotten so damn bad in science. Because the scientists have this cover. Science, in the minds of the public, is objective and evidence-based thinking itself. So these brazen irrationalists that actually draw money in this game have that as their cover.

    I just think its all very terrible.

  16. The importance of the fossil record lies in the discovery that similar forms of rocks scattered across the earth contain similar fossils of species that no longer exist. This in itself implies that species came into existence flourished and then became extinct over the vast periods of time it took the rocks to be laid down and harden.

    This is significant because it supports the idea that successive waves of rock were formed not all at once but over time. And 2) it reinforces the notion that there have been numerous extinctions and creations.

    Also the Palaeozoic age of fishes and invertebrates has been shown to have extended from roughly 550 million years ago to 250 mill. years ago and during that time plant life moved out of the oceans on to land, fish appeared, then amphibians and then reptiles reached land. So we know the early forms of life on earth are very old that life began in the sea and the climbed ashore.

  17. Nor was I that aware of how deep the problem is in science. I wouldn’t say that science is the worst demonstration of groupthink but it is certainly an unacceptable state of affairs.

    Towards the end of his text, The Trouble with Physics, Lee Smolin suggests that physics is too dominated by current theories and there are too few people ready to take on the establishment. It reminds me of a recent study which found that while in questionnaires teachers said they preferred creative and challenging students in practice they demonstrated the opposite behavior. This is to be expected. In physics as in all science the up and coming must “win the favour” of their “superiors” in order to get that grant or tenure. As Smolin suggests, physics needs seers, people who are prepared to spend a great deal of time and energy devoted to re-conceptualising the discipline. For most scientists this is no longer possible, they must seek tenure, maintain publication status, etc etc. They are trapped in a system which forces them to conform.

    As for economics, as I suggested long ago at Catallaxy, there needs to arise some bright spark, young or old, who can completely redesign economics. It is a conceptual muddle, a complete mess. At the heart of it lies a mathematical absurdity: the principle quantifier(dollar) is a variable.

  18. And, significantly, for reasons that are still not understood or fathomed 250 million years ago all those new forms of life were wiped out.

  19. Right Philomena. Lets think about that extinction event.

    Imagine the following situation:

    1. We have a version of land-hunger/currency debasement capitalism. Where our main savings are tied up in our house and land blocks. And everywhere we see that people want to stop their neighbours building up.

    2. The human race never stops wanting to have six or more kids for every couple.

    3. We don’t have buffer zones between substantial private properties.

    Well you can see that under those conditions we could easily wind up with major extinction events just us being human.

    But look how things were 250 million years ago? Surely it would have taken repeated and substantial trauma to wipe out all these species. Since if it was a single cause you would rather expect the situation to be dominated by massively reduced populations of lots of things, but a subsequent rapid recovery.

    To my mind it would have to be repeated and massive trauma to have an extinction event like the one depicted.

    When we see our own potential for destruction, we may interpolate a less hasty and catastrophic understanding of these extinction events. But that doesn’t seem realistic to me.

    Rather I suspect the misfortunes to these species came fast, hard and repeatedly.

  20. Thank you.

    Your discussion of time is fascinating and I wonder to what extent do you think the resistance against the notion of time being merely a useful artefact is tied up with an insistence on prioritising materialism over metaphysics and also the paramount need of capitalism for quantitative perception and tools for calculation in measuring everything from money to working hours etc.?

  21. “The Siberian Traps (Russian: Сибирские траппы) form a large igneous province in Siberia. The massive eruptive event spans the Permian-Triassic boundary, about 251 to 250 million years ago, and was essentially coincident with the Permian–Triassic extinction event in what was one of the largest known volcanic events of the last 500 million years of Earth’s geological history. The term ‘traps’ is derived from the Swedish word for stairs (trappa, or sometimes trapp), referring to the step-like hills forming the landscape of the region.”

    “The Deccan Traps formed between 60 and 68 million years ago,[2] at the end of the Cretaceous period. The bulk of the volcanic eruption occurred at the Western Ghats (near Mumbai) some 66 million years ago. This series of eruptions may have lasted fewer than 30,000 years in total.[3] The gases released in the process may have played a role in the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event, which included the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs.”

    The chain of events as I see it go like this:


    1. Galactic centre explosion.

    2. Shockwave hits earth and sets off massive volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis.

    3. Then the Gamma Ray burst hits.

    4. Then the Coronal mass ejection hits from the sun.


    1. The Galactic centre explosion also sets off a series of supernova’s and exploding planets and moons. If the closest supernova is real close to our solar system, an exploded planet or moon ought to occur in our solar system.

    2. The first supernova is likely to be the strongest, since it will likely be the closest to our solar system.

    3. So the exact same cycle is repeated as before. Except with even greater severity.

    4. From here we have the results of other supernova’s hitting the earth. But now the trend is definitely weaker and weaker. But still its a real bitch. Because if any species is just starting to recover, they are going to get another round of the same treatment. Although each time at least a little less harsh. But the repeated damage may be thinning the atmospheric protection.

    5. I many of these buggers are even a little bit recovered well forget about it. Because its at this late stage that the asteroid attacks from the exploded moon and planet will hit. The big ones may be very far apart. But one might expect a tens of thousands of years of the occasional middling one.

    This is how I would expect these extinctions come about. I don’t think its anything the least bit mild at all. The only way you could have a mild mass extinction event is with humans using all this land in an extravagant fashion and fencing everything off. Or hunting things to extinction.

  22. Hmmmm . Yeah I don’t know about that Philomena. I was imagining a sort of path-dependence coupled with the first trauma of Darwinism and the second Trauma of World War I.

    I think that the science community just couldn’t figure out what light or gravity was. You had the triumph of Classical Liberalism around about the 1840’s. But its already unpopular by the 1860’s in the public mind. Its delivering bigtime. But still way below expectations.

    In 1859 Darwin shows up and he makes people feel ashamed to be Christian. Not him but this wave hits the upper class intellectuals. All sorts of changes flow from this.

    Immanuel Kants stuff never made it that big in the English-Speaking world. Now 100 years on its dragged up and brought right to the forefront, and perhaps as a way of these people being able to retain their religion and deal with the Darwinian assault on their faith.

    Then elsewhere in the sciences and amongst the mathematicians perhaps these people are feeling spiritually deprived. In the 1880’s Nietzsche is talking about the death of God and what will replace it (the Will To Power) and for him to pick up on this stuff may have shown the forewarnings of the sort of universal psychic disorientation that seems have broken out with a vengeance after World War I.

    So when physicists in the later 19th century and early 20th century start getting lab-results that they cannot explain……. and then some clever fellows amongst them start taking short-cuts, throwing in a lot of reification and thinly disguised voodoo, then this may have been like a replacement for the mystery, magic and idealism that these people could have lost from their youth.

    In 1919 when that journey was made to check out the eclipse, these guys didn’t find any evidence for the Einstein mysticism. Rather they failed to falsify that system. These days a failure to falsify is called a “validation”. None of this is good science. But the fellow who made the trip was a great scientist. Thats all that was needed. No evidence. They come home to a jaded public in a hoopla of publicity.

    It provided this mysticism and the requisite ego-feeding of the physics priesthood. It put a little bit of magic back in their lives I’m supposing. And it allowed their eyes to glaze over when it came to solving the knotty problems of gravity and light.

    Hence we went down this wrong path and we never got off it. Public education and science funding has locked this stuff right in. And it provides an awesome barrier.

    Also I’ve been lead to believe that official secrets also help lock the Einstein system in as a deliberate barrier to proliferation. Because its wrong. Its totally iron-clad dogma. And so thats a barrier right there.

    Now we have several generations of people having locked in this liquid time. Time as a thing. A dimension. The importation of geometry into the understanding of time.

    And its been locked in so vigorously now its hard to get away from the whole thing. The whole lot of it forms a giant immovable wedge. You protest against one aspect of it you are going against the entire structure.

    But its a sociologically and historically determined structure. Not one resultant from objective scientific enquiry.

  23. Well put. But I think we agree that science ends up serving dominant conjunctural political and economic needs and in many ways always has, which sort of was my point. I don’t know that true scientific objectivity can exist given the structure of our brains and the nature of consciousness, as we understand it. Which we don’t. All of which makes the ride a hell of lot more interesting… and unpredictable. To put the best possible spin on our profound ignorance and inherent subjectivity.

    I like to resort to poetry to understand fathomless things like our hearts and minds and the moon and stars and time.

    Like this one.

    The Art Of Poetry

    To gaze at a river made of time and water
    And remember Time is another river.
    To know we stray like a river
    and our faces vanish like water.

    To feel that waking is another dream
    that dreams of not dreaming and that the death
    we fear in our bones is the death
    that every night we call a dream.

    To see in every day and year a symbol
    of all the days of man and his years,
    and convert the outrage of the years
    into a music, a sound, and a symbol.

    To see in death a dream, in the sunset
    a golden sadness–such is poetry,
    humble and immortal, poetry,
    returning, like dawn and the sunset.

    Sometimes at evening there’s a face
    that sees us from the deeps of a mirror.
    Art must be that sort of mirror,
    disclosing to each of us his face.

    They say Ulysses, wearied of wonders,
    wept with love on seeing Ithaca,
    humble and green. Art is that Ithaca,
    a green eternity, not wonders.

    Art is endless like a river flowing,
    passing, yet remaining, a mirror to the same
    inconstant Heraclitus, who is the same
    and yet another, like the river flowing.

    – Jorge Luis Borges

  24. Not that there was likely some triangulation with the theologians in this mystical version of time. And this was probably the case when the original Big Bang theory was being put about, with its resemblance to Genesis.

    Like religion has its back to the wall. And out come these super-duper-physicists with versions of science that subtly help out the put-upon theologians and bigshots who feel like they are losing their religion.

    But today it is often radical atheists that grasp most strongly to this mysticism and that creation story.

  25. The ancients saw time as cyclical rather than linear, which was probably closer to the truth but as you say that didn’t then or now really serve the purposes of the higher (sic) religions as they developed historically in tandem with temporal needs with which they were always completely bound up.

  26. Yes I think your approach is a very healthy one. Because you are not distorting your view of reality like someone having that religious replacement need clinging on to voodoo in science.

    Rather you go to the field of poetry, whereas I’m likely to reach for a tall cold one. Of all the responses to these problems, yours would seem to be the healthiest. And in fact the poetry does sort of loosen one up and make one think a bit as well. Very nice poem thanks. We need you around to balance the yin and yang.

  27. Right. I’m seeing things more cyclically these days as well. Since I came to the tentative conclusion that we had exceeded our current technological capacity at least once before. And had it all wiped out. And I’m thinking it will happen again. And we might never recover this time around.

    So yeah I’m thinking you are right about the ancients and I’m thinking that the ancients were right about this subject.

  28. It has been argued that our modern physics, looking for a Theory of Everything, is much like christian theology in that it seeks an ultimate explanation of reality. What many do not seem to ask is whether or not the universe is that orderly that a Theory of Everything is even possible. G. Chaitin has even argued, by extension of Godel’s Theorem, that even if someone comes up with a Theory of Everything, we can never know if it is the final theory of everything. Then in String Theory it gets really weird because you can end up with multiple and equally plausible Theories of Everything.

    Mystics will often assert that time is an illusion. It is interesting to note that physicists and neuroscientists express a certain regard for Eastern mysticism. Consider Neils Bohr, when knighted by the Danes he had put his shield the yin yang symbol.

    My personal view of science is that it is always in becoming. Science is not so much about statements of Truth as statements reflecting our present understanding. I don’t really care that much about the “ultimate understanding”, my principle interest is the best understanding at the present time.

    Science does often become subject to political ends. Here is a most shocking example I read only this morning that I sent off to some friends:

    Less well known is the work of Ilya Ivanov, who in the mid-twenties was charged by Stalin with the task of cross breeding apes with humans. … He wanted to create a new breed of soldier – ‘a new invincible human being’. . Ivanov was a horse breeder who made his reputation in Tsarist times by pioneering the artificial inseminiation of racehorses, but acting on Stalin’s instructions he turned his attention to primate research. He travelled to West Africa and set up a research institute in Georgia … where humans were impregnated with ape sperm.


    Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia, John Gray.

    John Gray is a European philosopher, his text Straw Dogs: thoughts on humans and other animals- is a best seller and a great read, but it will shock you

    Some say religion causes wars. True, the last century was the bloodiest century ever with innumerable instances of genocide attempts. Nearly all of this happened through the agency of atheists(Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, Shining Path, and … ) . Yes, I regard atheism as a religion.

  29. And that’s where metaphysics actually is comforting because there’s no evidence that life or the means to its production will ever be completely wiped out and if everthing that exists and has existed is all a product of a long common evolutionary process then Walt Whitman and all other Romantic poets and the mystics and saints and madmen and women had it right and we will always live in some form.

  30. John. How did that ape impregnation go? I don’t imagine it would have gotten too far would it? Not without a bit of chromosone-fusion in the ape?

  31. I’ve bought the last two John Gray books, John H, on review recommendation, but alas they still lie unread on my bookshelves along with many 100s of others. So many books so little time.

    I think all ideologies are religions.

  32. It failed Graeme, and then Ivanov was thrown in jail but later released. However, I did read a text by a Soviet bioscientist who worked in a lab which develop chimera viruses. Very nasty, most people don’t know that in the USA, Russia, and probably a few other countries, there are stockpiles of pathogens that could decimate humanity.

  33. There is evidence though Philomena, that macroscopic life, specifically on earth, could be wiped out though. I don’t know whether you would find the evidence convincing, and able to leap over the proof bar. But its there.

    Also there is certainly evidence that we could be severely thinned out, and lose our technological capacity. If you ask me I think we will have a hard time getting through this century in good shape.

    To my way of thinking the Vela Supernova and the Galactic Centre Explosion that may have preceded it, really wiped out the high civilisation of the time. And its aftermath, from there on in, put us under great stress during much of recorded history.

    But you see it appears that all of the major Supernovas of recorded history, the ones that could be seen with the naked eye from earth ……. All of them were the result of the same Galactic Centre Explosion that triggered the Vela Supernova.

    And now we are overdue.

    So a Galactic Centre explosion, with a supernova follow-up, then a series of shadow supernovas after that.

    This could really mess us up bigtime.

    But forgetting all that I think we are in a great deal of trouble, even without any disaster rolling in from the rest of the galaxy.

    We have extraordinary bad policy locked in. The degradation of the democratic system. We have the population pyramid overturning in the richer world. Massive obstruction to new forms of energy generation. Capital markets and an economics fraternity both fundamentally dysfunctional and the latter protecting the former from the need for comprehensive reform.

    I think we have good odds of ending this century with far less people than when we began it.

  34. Politics and religion were always closely intertwined and so they remain.

    It’s a truism that the vast sectarian splintering of left political groups in the 20th century, most notably probably uncoincidentally in Britain, a form of politics ostensibly founded on secularism and a rejection of religion. mirrored to an uncanny degree organisationally and behaviourly if not ideologically the vast multiple sectarian splits of 16th -19th century Christian Europe.

  35. Yeah Philomena, I’ve thought that before, but never really put that in words. The lefties are a bit like the Protestants aren’t they. Except when the Soviet Union was there as a sort of organizing principle. But then again sadly, the lefties are now organizing around this global warming business. Whereas you would really want them organizing around a patient view of environmentalism. One that emphasised the “Make Haste Slowly” motto of Julius Caesar. Thats really what I’m after.

    A series of patient but determined projects to bequeath greater sustainability to both our species and the biodiversity of the planet. One that is patient enough not to seriously impinge in an oppressive way on property right. But with a snowballing effect over decades and centuries.

  36. What you say is true Graeme which is why I guess we’re both drawn to politics despite ourselves you might say and despite other equally strong and quite different interests.

    Sometimes it’s a real bitch even giving it all the time of day.

  37. a form of politics ostensibly founded on secularism and a rejection of religion. mirrored to an uncanny degree organisationally and behaviourly if not ideologically the vast multiple sectarian splits of 16th -19th century Christian Europe.

    Quite close to what John Gray is arguing in the text I earlier cited. Utopianism is an outgrowth of religion and Enlightenment thinking, the latter picking it up from the former. The Soviet Union represented a terror based attempt to bring about a new humanity. John Gray argues that Utopian ideas are still deeply embedded in some arenas and almost invariably leads to totalitarianism.

  38. John with that theory of everything I think thats fundamentally bad for the sociology of the academy. If there is integration to be had, I think it will largely present itself, if people get stuck into the hard yakka of being real scientists and solving all sorts of smaller mysteries.

    Worst of all is the doctrine-or-tendency of the serial monogamy of paradigms. More oppressive than serial monogamy proper, since the latter has great economic justification, and justification in terms of avoiding male-to-male violence.

  39. Thing is AWG momentum can’t be sheeted home to the left which is hardly the predominant force in society today since the collapse of the left vision and its ideological underpinnings and organisational expression.

    As Jason Soon et al likes to say “we won” the Cold war. Socialism failed. Capitalism emerged triumphant

    So there’s more going on obviously than a left directed plot.

  40. “Utopianism is an outgrowth of religion….”

    I can see that. But I can also see it as an outgrowth of the loss of religion. And the rebellion against religion. Actually I think that the latter is the stronger motivator if we are talking one or two generations. On top of that I do not know of and am unconvinced of the successful atheist society.

    This is not a nice tentative thought to have. The idea that a civilisation, having lost its relgion, may be living on borrowed time. May be a thing with short legs.

    But I would need some evidence to the contrary.

  41. Hmmmm. To me it looks like my side won that battle but are now losing the war again. Like we’ve swung back onto the losing side.

    And to me the global warming business looks like the left trying to reform itself after losing the war, and its religion. Its like the T-1000 terminator pulling itself back together again. Its a dual thing. Not just trace gas hysteria. But inside that CO2 Trojan horse is the worst nightmare of all. Global Governance.

    Not everything the left has done is totally unproductive from my point of view. So I sure wish they would alter their targets this time around.

    Also there is the issue of “referred pain” that I was talking about before. I’m supposing the CO2 thing is referred pain from the realisation of problems to do with the lessons learned from the exponential series.

  42. “[projects] that are patient enough…”

    Interesting point. In the era of instant gratification and low toleration of imperfection the real and worsening environmental problems that everyone is aware of in every part of the world are probably fuelling a sense of panic and impatience with a world that is changing in ways that are thought of as intolerable and frightening and hence the drive to Do Something Now.

  43. Right. So the right is going to lose unless they can come out and deal with this business that I call “referred pain.”

    Or at least we will all lose. Everything will lose. Us and everything else, left right and centre.

  44. This is not a nice tentative thought to have. The idea that a civilisation, having lost its relgion, may be living on borrowed time. May be a thing with short legs.

    Well Graeme is the history of atheistic motivated States is anything to go by we are in big trouble! Carl Jung was stated:

    “… the religious impulse rests on an instinctive basis and is therefore a specifically human function. You can take away a man’s gods, but only to give him others in return.

    Jung, C.J., The Undiscovered Self. Trans. R.F.C. Hull. (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1958), p.55.

    Keep in mind that for the greater part most established religions do not seek Utopia in this life, hence there is no need to instantiate the types of doctrines so prevalent in the examples I previously cited. Secular utopianism is very much about ringing in the New Order NOW. Very dangerous, very stupid, and must be fought against.

  45. Here is where we differ Graeme.

    The Right to me (some individuals excepted) has little to offer.

  46. Yeah its not nice is it. The religious impulse being replaced by the “will to power” on the one hand and various harmful utopian movements on the other. And perhaps even a lot of bad science dogma.

    I wish it were otherwise. And I don’t know if I’m right. But my observations don’t lead me to be optimistic about the behaviour of my fellow atheists when they get together.

    See the real full-on dumbness of the crowd that hang out on the skeptical sites. Like Randi is smart. Richard Dawkins is smart. But the people on their sites are almost unsurpassed blockheads.

  47. “The Right to me (some individuals excepted) has little to offer.”

    I can certainly see why you feel this way and will not try and turn you around on this matter. Except in small incremental ways on technical matters of economic science.

    Many of these matters in which I often tend to clash with mainstream rightest economists.

    I can see why you think that the right may have little to offer. But most people on the left can be very hard to reach. How does one go on Prodeo or Deltoid. I would have thought anyone of independent mind would find resistance in these hell-holes.

  48. I think we ought to look upon ourselves as a species with our backs against the wall. I think we ought to look upon ourselves in Australia as a country that is in grave trouble. I think we need to really work hard to look out for eachother.

    This to me means that we cannot really put up with a financial system that is parasitical, and where not parasitical, performing way below its potential. We have to be pretty ruthless with our bureaucracies. We might like them as a sort of luxury. But if eliminating a department will not cause terrible heartbreaking tragedy we have to ruthlessly remove them.

    We have so many real threats to attend to and long-term insipid threats (not excluding environmental degradation) that we cannot afford to tarry with phony threats, fueled by other unclear agendas, like this CO2 thingy.

    I think we need to really pin our ears back with survival and the survival of humane behaviour within this continent as the main goals.

    I think almost no-one perceives the sort of trouble we are in. Its almost like the last 100 years, World Wars aside, have been an Indian Summer between really bad times.

    Of course for the aborigines, many of them had a bad time of it even in the last 100 years.

  49. Ah, one lifelong outsider greets another.

  50. Utopianism has been invested with ideological baggage and it’s not right to write off what lies at the basis of that which is broader than party politics or ideologies: among other things, endless curiousity, the pleasure principle in action, the denial of death, concern for others’ well being, intellectual endeavour, etc.

    There’s a lot going into the mix of what some might wrongfully dismiss as historical notions of Utopias.

  51. Strictly speaking we are all in one way or the other aiming at Utopia, either in our personal lives or at larger levels. Utopia as a goal is a good idea, but we must be very careful about the means to that end for as history has shown all too often it means trouble and strife. I think in our personal lives we should aim for our ideas about Utopia but the State should NEVER seek to impose its concept of Utopia upon us. Therein lies great danger.

  52. Check out Lawrence E Joseph. This is a very serious threat. Not necessarily one that will hit in 2012. But it will happen. And we are not the least bit prepared. The first two minutes and twenty seconds of this video is very serious with a high probability. The rest is a lot more speculative.

    Not only can a devastating electro-magnetic pulse from the sun, short out all our power, destroy our money supply, and cause a catastrophic set of dominoes to fall ……. as a result of activity from our sun …….

    But the same scenario can be set off by a single atom bomb exploded high above our East Coast. Just one bomb could take down the electrical grid in the entire United States.

    Neither the Australian nor American electric grid is prepared for this. And yet its a pretty easy thing to prepare for. In the case of the solar based pulse, all the satellites would be shorted out. This is why the National Broadband Network ought to be pursued, but in a radically different form to the repulsive Rudd-Goldman-Sachs plan.

    Later on in the video there is a very serious scientist Robert Schoch. In the interim there are some unserious people. Although Richard Hoagland is pretty good value. But not all the time. I let the more dubious stuff slide with Richard. So I like listening to him. I’m not putting him down. I’m just wanting to say I don’t take everything he says seriously.

    But definitely Lawrence Joseph and Robert Bloch are serious people. Although what we see Robert Bloch doing here looks more like the hunt for Blackbeards treasure. Rather than his more serious scientific work.

  53. Right. I advocate a more patient Utopianism along the Stevie Wonder line of thinking.

    I forgot this one from the Christmas song thread.

    So my version of righteous Utopianism goes like Stevie says.

    “…… maybe not in time for you or for me,

    But some day at Christmas-time”

  54. I think we ought to look upon ourselves as a species with our backs against the wall.

    A long time ago on sci.paleo.anthropology I put forward the proposition that the DNA constriction evidenced over the last 150,000 years which represents a massive decline of the human popn was caused by the Mt. Toba eruption circa 70,000 years ago. Two anthropologists there laughed at the my suggestion. I had wonderful revenge 3 years later when a paper cited exactly that event as the cause of that constriction. At that point in time we were extremely close to being wiped out.

    For all our concern about the dangers we are creating for ourselves, the reality is that we are more likely to suffer devastating impacts by natural calamities beyond our control. That is one reason why I have consistently argued for nuclear and late fusion power. The unavoidable truth is that eventually we are going to be faced with an ice age that will wipe out most of Northern America and Europe. So I am opposed to current attempts to stabilise the climate because that is impossible and stupid. We must be thinking about geo engineering, which, I am delighted to report, is the argument put forward a few months in papers released by the Royal Society. We have no choice, in the face of inevitable climate change and an inevitable ice age we either go full pelt at weather control or our civilisation will be largely obliterated.

  55. “For all our concern about the dangers we are creating for ourselves, the reality is that we are more likely to suffer devastating impacts by natural calamities beyond our control. ”

    Right. But its not good to have bad policy and bad luck piggy-backing on eachother. My thinking leads me to the idea of a long-range plan to fill our continent with inland canals. But thats a long story. And I’m not implying oppressive levels of public spending. Rather I’m implying getting started with a low-level project now.

    Bad policy, bad luck, and galactic disasters, already in the works ………. all three coming together is more to be feared than the galactic disasters on their own.

    Where we see industrial accidents, or diving accidents, or screw-ups more generally, we usually see three or more contributing causes.

  56. Wow. An even better meeting of minds.

    I’m impressed and happy, dudes, that you found each other and understand each other’s language. That’s enough hope to go on, in the circumstances, for me, at this moment in time.

  57. Could we turn this into a tag of some sort. Patient-Utopianism?

  58. My thinking leads me to the idea of a long-range plan to fill our continent with inland canals.

    Hah! Over recent months I have been discussing with a friend this proposal.

    Build a bunch of nuke plants way out west.

    Channel the Gulf water down to these.

    Use the nuke plants to drive pumps for irrigating the desert and desalination.

    Green the Australian interior, when the first aborigines arrived here circa 60,000 years, it was like that. Do it again.

    Big problems: Greenies and aborigines will be completely opposed to this idea.

  59. yeah man.

  60. Well the aborigines might be. But I’m not thinking a big industrial project that has to go forth in a great big hurry. Rather I’m thinking of pitching like a 5000 a day budget to a retiree of some prominence who digs the idealism of the project. And his job is not to get things done in a hurry. But to rather do things slowly and as he’s working find cheaper and cheaper ways to move forward. As well double up the project as a training mechanism for a lot of unemployed types to get tradie-like skills.

    Only when he gets to a point where he reckons he can make a massive ongoing cost reduction in canal-length per dollar spent, does the daily budget increase. Because the plan isn’t in the first instance to get all the canals out there and oppress the taxpayer still more.

    The plan is rather to get better and better and building canals cheaper and cheaper. And to sideline all of the bureaucratic problems that stops the public sector from taking this up. We simply have no homesteading rules for example. We want homesteading rules for land on either side of the canals. And of course there is the potential to give aborigines first digs at this sort of prospect.

    Its a patient plan. Rather a series of patient plans. Plans that don’t present a threat to budgets or taxpayers.

    On top of the 5000 a day budget with this patient plan what we want is for strategic undertakings like this to be able to get a crew controlled by a sole trader. And they outsource to the sole trader. And the revenue the sole trader gets, and the wages he pays to his crew, well these are not taken into account for taxation purposes. So you see we are building up the small businessmen. And the skills of the people who can make stuff and build things. We are trying to bypass the bigshots and the rich guys as much as possible.

    And we can do this if we are patient-Utopians.

    To me this Rudd Public-Private partnership is just fascist economics. It will lead to cost-overuns, tears, and the heartbreak of growing debts.

  61. “yeah man.”

    Well thats it then. Philomena has spoken. “Patient-Utopianism” it is. Part of this is prejudicing the sole trader over the big corporation. Not in the way of persecuting the big corporation. But in the way of subtle prejudicing in favour of the sole trader which will have a cumulative effect over decades.

  62. I’m linking the Toba catastrophe with the Sagittarius A East Supernova.

    Bear in mind it could have been a quick one-two punch rather than a single event. Since while the Sagittarius A East supernova was 26000 light years away, it was sort of in line with the Galactic centre I think. And I think from memory that it was really massive.

    So with this thinking of how things happen I’ve developed, largely adapted from, Paul LaViolette, this ought to mean that there was probably two impulses for total disaster, one coming hard on the other.

    Although I’m only going on memory about this particular supernova remnant.

  63. I read about the supernova – mass extinction hypothesis a long time ago. something more recent:

  64. Right. I didn’t know about it until last year. When I saw the evidence in a single thread, I immediately notified Catallaxy for purposes of peer review.

    From the point of view of peer review it was a failure. The luminairies Pedro, Reynolds, Cambria and others gave it the thumbs down.

    Here is the thread:

    This thread was enough for me to go into a period of much unfunded research. Linking supernovas with totally outsized volcanic behaviour. And it really solidified for me ideas to do with extinction events, and anomalies like the pyramids and a bunch of other stuff.

    All this essentially coming from this one link.

    I’d never heard of the theory before. I thought it was just me linking the Vela Supernova to the Quarternary extinction, which I took straight out of implications deriving from that link.

    Later I found a couple of British guys had made the same link. But with a totally different transmission mechanism.

    My transmission mechanism is simply to do with gravity having the equal and opposite force of compression. So even a tiny failing of gravity for a fraction of a second can lead to catastrophic knock-on events.

    Since if gravity and compression are matched, then a brief tiny relaxation of gravity must lead to the forces to be balanced by the force of inertia under acceleration.

    I don’t know if this is a new angle to the problem or not.

    If you were to look back on this blog you will find maybe a dozen threads flowing out of this one link and the unfunded research that the link touched off.

    Its not just about gamma rays John. The volcanoes start before the gamma rays arrive. You get one source event, and that touches of a series of catastrophes which explain near extinction and extinction events. They touch off a series of disasters that comprise such a run of bad luck that they can only be ascribed to a single root cause.

  65. I guess what I’m saying John, is that its not about gamma-rays alone. Gamma rays are just one nasty, in a deck of nasty-cards.

  66. I’m reading this at the moment in hard copy and found it online!

    It’s fantastic. Read it.

  67. I’ve seen people on the conspirational right making it sound like Huxley was advocating centralised control partly via science. Rather than warning about the prospect. And I did wonder about it. Wondered whether they had his attitude right. So its good to get that cleared up.

    That famous outgoing speech by President Eisenhower contained these sentiments also. The fear of science monopoly. Well we really have seen this come to pass. And its probably worse than any of us can have a handle on. You see signs of it everywhere. The arrogance and apparent stupidity of NASA not too distant from todays morning TV about the incredible demands made by femals “diva” superstars.

    With this “Patient-Utopianism” I would want to emphasize the sole trader, the independent science institute, the freelance researcher, the expanded home-schooling operation, and all this sort of thing, without outright persecution of the ltd liability corporation.Beyond making them phase to 100% equity financing.

    Always with public spending we want to cut off the money spigot to the bigshots and try, where we cannot cut it out entirely, to re-route it to the sole trader via tax exemptions.

    We want to pull back from the letter of virtually all international agreements even if we oversubscribe to the spirit of these things. Since the constrictions can make us act like complete bastards.

    ((((Consider Tony talking about Rudd lacking the “Steel” to turn the rickety ships full of women and children back to the high seas.

    This is the wrong sort of “steel” and totally unbecoming. The right sort of moxie would be to defy received opinion and stridently pull out of international restrictions, but then make a refugee policy that is kind/fair/but in the interests of incumbent Australians.

    Now consider the integration of the elements involved. That would require a lot of thought, effort and creativity to come up with such a policy. It literally cannot be done facing a string of international legal obligations.)))))

    These are all small steps to cut us off from creeping centralised power. Each level of government ought to have as its main goal the protection of the individual from the yet more centralised governments usurpations. The locals should work to keep us 90% sovereign from the states , the states 90% from the commonwealth, the commonwealth 99% from foreigners. Clearly matters won’t fall down quite this way at the moment because of the great commitments of the Commonwealth, man of which cannot be rightly just cut off immediately.

    With science we can have the institutes tax free and the people working for them tax free. But after doing so we want to minimise actual research grants from government. When they are made the money might be spread around some. And never involve the setting up of outfits that work full-time for the government. Like Goddard, HadCru, Noaa, and the rest of those crooks. Or now 100’s of other outfits that can strangely be counted on to make statements for the entire organisation which fit with UN goals.

    Very strange that you can get these statements without any known discussion from the actual scientists who work for these organisations. Science by way of institutional statements. Very odd. Very unscientific. Most likely a manifestation of what Huxley and Eisenhower were warning us about.

  68. ts not just about gamma rays John. The volcanoes start before the gamma rays arrive. You get one source event, and that touches of a series of catastrophes which explain near extinction and extinction events. They touch off a series of disasters that comprise such a run of bad luck that they can only be ascribed to a single root cause.

    Yeah I can see what you are getting at there. Those at Catallaxy may have thought you were balmy on this one but this research has been around for at least 20 years because I can’t remember when I first encountered it which means it was a long time ago. Graeme this is probably coals to Newcastle for you but my impression is those at Catallaxy are cognitively very conservative. I see much, if any evidence, that they are capable of entertaining novel ideas but rather seek to demolish the same at the first opportunity. Long ago I read a quote which went something like this: new ideas are like seedlings, easily trampled upon.

    In regard to gamma rays though, one reason these are so deadly is they can easily cause “double strand breaks”. Cells can do a reasonable job of repairing single strand breaks in DNA but a double strand break is fixed simply by joining to the two ends back together, no account for lost bases or what other issues. So Gamma ray bursts alone can easily destroy a great deal of life.

    Help me here, my understanding is that the gamma ray burst may be quite short lived. Hours even. True?

  69. I forgot to add, there is one species of bacteria that is very resistant to radiation damage. Might be interesting to check that out, see if there is an established point in time when that species emerged.

  70. “Graeme this is probably coals to Newcastle for you but my impression is those at Catallaxy are cognitively very conservative.”

    I can see that you are a person of great tact. And that sometimes you use understatement for effect.

    “Help me here, my understanding is that the gamma ray burst may be quite short lived. Hours even. True?”

    Just about all gamma ray bursts recorded come from distant galaxies. People get excited when they get a reading. I cannot help feel sad about it because this is the death of solar systems entire. And may involve the death of billions of sentient beings.

    They only go on for a few minutes I think. But this one two days after the tsunami was special and from within the galaxy. Although one doesn’t really trust NASA to have gotten the source right.

    The gamma light was as powerful as the light from the moon. Hope I was inside when it struck. It may have gone on for some time. One wonders if it had anything to do with the turnaround in the cooling trend that happened in 2005, more indirectly than otherwise.

    “Gamma ray counts spiked to a maximum in 1.5 seconds and then declined over a 5 minute period with 7.57 second pulsations. The blast temporarily changed the shape the Earth’s ionosphere, distorting the transmission of long-wavelength radio signals. ”

    Only for five minutes so likely it couldn’t have had that effect even indirectly. But if the shockwave touched off earthquakes on earth it might also have touched off more activity from the sun. I guess the only way to maintain the suspicion is if we found the high temperatures of 2005 to be clustered around the beginning of the year.

    So thats the biggest one and really only five minutes. I see gamma ray blasts on their own, by very close supernovae, as a cause for much death and population reduction within species. But hardly on its own, a likely cause for mass-extinction.

    We humans may consider mass-extinction an easy thing to pull off, because we can do it by land hunger and over-hunting over periods of several decades. But without fencing things off, cutting things down, and hunting every last tasty morsel, its seldom going to be a feature of a short-lived gamma ray blast. Rather the extinction event is surely going to be resultant upon a series of disasters resembling revelations. Like the worst run of bad luck imaginable. Putting it outside the realm of possibility to imagine the individual misfortunes do not arise from the same root event.

    The thinking would be two major disasters clusters then a whole lot of lesser hatefulness. The first cluster of catastrophes from the Galactic Centre direct, and then an even stronger series of evils coming from the exploding star that the first disaster blows up.

    Then if we are really unlucky even worse nastiness resulting from when a local planet or moons is also blown to bits …. Then over the next thousands of years progressively smaller supernovae, and then if you have a local planet blowing up after that the asteroids. So its got to be one thing after another.

    The first lot of volcanoes and tidal waves would do awesome damage. But thats just the start.

    Think about the “Cat Gap’. How hard it would have been to destroy every last family of cats in the Americas for millions of years.

    And see how that implies many more near-extinction events that don’t show up in the fossil record. Because the cats presumably copped the worst of it being at the top of the food chain. But we don’t even notice the damage done to the rest of the food chain.

  71. Oh my, this rocks.

    Listen if you can. Slower but better than reading the transcript.

    “But flaky futurologists aren’t always wrong. I tell students they derive more stimulus from first rate science fiction than from second rate science. And we should keep our minds open or at least ajar to whacky seeming concepts. Before this century’s end, novel mind enhancing drugs, genetics and cyborg techniques may start to alter human beings themselves. Evolution will proceed, not just at the pace of Darwinian selection, but on a much shorter timescale of technological change.”

  72. Listening to Martin now. I’ve got to do a number of things then will get back to this thread in the late afternoon.

  73. Hope I was inside when it struck.

    There have been research reports highlights the dangers for aircrews at cruising altitude because of cosmic radiation. A recent report pointed to another concern: during lightning strikes there is a gamma ray burst that could be dangerous for those flying near the burst. Given the energy of gamma rays though I wonder if this isn’t a threat to everything around the strike.

    As to the cosmic effects on earth, there was a recent study released which claimed that the Sun and the Moon can have a direct measurable impact on the San Andreas Fault. Now that is not a great deal of gravity at play there which indicates that the earth may be much more vulnerable to space origin events than we would like to think.

  74. Oh for sure. Because you consider the absolutely delicate balance between explosive compression forces and exactly balanced gravitational forces. Even the tiniest weakening of gravity for a nano-second might have all sorts of knock-on effects.

    Inertial forces of acceleration making up the balance. Very spooky. We are so vulnerable. Terra Ferma isn’t the least bit firm.

  75. Richard Klein, prof of anthropological studies at Stanford postulated that humanity’s cultural revolution (disputed), which is said by the creative explosion camp to have occurred around 60,000-40,000 yrs ago, began or was made possible, alongside other changes including climactic and demographic, with one or more genetic mutations that transformed the ability to communicate. That “a suite of language and creativity genes perhaps as few as 10 or as many as 1000 developed as a result of random mutation” giving rise to a new pattern of human culture.

    Kleinn cites as an eg the gene FOXP 2 which was discovered in 2001 among 15 members of a large London family 3 generations of which have severe speech and language impediments. Researchers have since shown that the human version of this gene differs by only 3 molecules out of 715 from the version carried by mice and by just 2 molecules from the version carried by chimpanzees.

    The German researchers who identified the mutation said that it occurred about 200,000 years ago and spread rapidly i.e. in 10,000 – 20,000 years. And that this rapid sweep indicated that the new version of the gene must have conferred an evolutionary advantage on the human ancestors who inherited it.

  76. Philomena, from your link

    “that if power in society is mostly in the hands of a few people, then control over nature through science and technology will serve to increase power inequalities.”

    Echoes of :

    “The entire history of mankind, is, in any case, nothing but the prolonged fight to the death for the prizes of absolute power and universal prestige.”

    Camus, The Rebel

    At the individual level, what are the consequences of exercising such power:

    A fulfilled person at peace with the world is an instrument of limited utility, but frustrate him enough and you can bend him to society’s ends.

    p 174

    “As long as power is a function of human productivity, civilization will tend to regard the free spirit as a wastrel and the dedicated drudge as a virtuous man. The selection for power places man under the yoke.”

    Andrew Schmookler, Parable of the Tribes.

    In relation to power libertarians do make some important points. They emphasize State power and its potentially and all too often realised dangers. But they conveniently overlooking Economic power. In perhaps an idealised version of a capitalist economy, there never should be corporations large enough that they can abuse the law to lord it over individuals and use their economic power to bribe governments. Examples of this behavior are legion so I am consistently surprised why so many libertarians refuse to recognise that Economic concentration of power is equally as dangerous as State power.

    In some respects modern technology has given us greater freedom but it can also be used by powerful governments and corporations to rob us of our freedom. The general public needs to recognise that governments of any persuasion, given enough time, will abuse power. This is one reason why I have a 3 term heuristic for governments. After about a decade most governments demonstrate unacceptable abuses of power. This is not because government in itself is bad but because it is run by humans. One reason I have some sympathies for anarchic models is that these devolve power. In fact I believe that we need to completely redesign the structure of democracy in order to avoid these abuses of power. The same is true in Economic realm. It is conceivable to move towards a more libertarian position in economic matters but not in the way libertarians usually conceive of it. The principle remains the same: we need to find a new way to have corporations that can preclude the abuse of power. This is a real challenge but most libertarians, Graeme being the only exception I know of, are in love with big corporations. They continually and sometimes rightly complain about government interference in our daily lives but conveniently ignore the way corporations can interfere in our lives and as history has shown corporations are very effective at abusing their economic power so as to persuade governments to overlook their abuse of the people and the rule of law.

  77. “The German researchers who identified the mutation said that it occurred about 200,000 years ago and spread rapidly i.e. in 10,000 – 20,000 years.”

    Its the German researchers who seem to have the clear evidence from the gene pool. This part of it works in well with a rebellious faction that thinks we were subject to genetic manipulation about
    200 000 years ago.

    “Richard Klein, prof of anthropological studies at Stanford postulated that humanity’s cultural revolution (disputed), which is said by the creative explosion camp to have occurred around 60,000-40,000 yrs ago”

    I’d want to know Richards reasoning why. I’m thinking after Toba, our numbers are completely attrited. But several thousands of years on, to my thinking, we had probably reconstituted coastal civilisation, which may escape nearly totally the evidential record. And where it does not, the outlier evidence is routinely dismissed and the careers of the scientists damaged.

    So I would see it as likely that a civilisational cycle could have begun around 65,000 years ago. And lasted just up until and just after the time of the Quarternary extinction event (or dual extinction events) occurred. And that we now would be in the civilisational cycle that maybe begun after the collapse of the last civilisation. Its full collapse coming post catastrophe.

    So we go into maybe a 5000 year dark ages. And yet some of the old tricks are retained during that time. Leading to stone age and early bronze age miracles.

    But then the reformation at Sumer maybe 6000 or less years ago starts off the new civilsational cycle.

    Right now I’m assuming that the fossil record studied by the mainstream is really the experience of the inlanders. Most of them more primitive than the hypothetical coastal societies that largely escape the fossil record.

    I might change my mind on this. But right now I suspect we have that bias. With or without outside intervention thats the only way I can make sense of what I see.

    Like you see the sophisticated aboriginal precurser populations making it here by boat. Then losing most of their technology. Or sophisticates going to South America with advanced astronomy and rock-moving abilities. And then losing much of their remnant trickery over time.

  78. Philomean, re Richard Klein link.

    First some general pointers:

    I am inherently suspicious of the claim Gene A will induce effect A1. It just isn’t that simple. In physiological processes a+b=c but only if d,e,f,g,h … are constants. We isolate these processes and then declare this is what is happening in the real world. No it isn’t, at least not always and perhaps not even most of the time. That question remains to be answered.

    Be careful about interpretations of our evolution and these genetic studies. As indicated in my first comment there is a simplifying tendency to reduce our behavior to genetics. I don’t like genetic determinism but this relates more to my perspective on biological processes in general. That is, single causation issues are exceedingly rare and betray and fundamental misunderstanding about biological processes.

    The fox2p issues is more correctly directly associated with language. The idea that human culture suddenly blossomed at point X could also be explained by our ancestors having finally attained sufficient mastery over the environment that they had spare time to look about them and think.

    Keep in mind too that the timescale these people are talking about approximates the demise of the Neandertals and the ending of the Ice Age. Additionally these researchers might want to take heed of the discovery of artistic artefacts in Blombos Cave or Klases River mouth dating to 80,000 years ago. And the probable exists of flutes and astronomical measurements dating some 20,000 years ago.

    I am inherently cynical of some threshold point in which human civilisation takes off because of some gene change. I find the idea of the fox2p gene spreading rapidly through the popn at the timeframe suggested as highly suspect.

    As a point of analysis keep in mind that the majority of cutting edge research is challenged if not outright proven wrong within 3 years of publication. We do not have magical logic machines in our heads, it is just a long hard battle towards finding those nuggets of truth. We always need to keep looking:

    “When someone asked Einstein what was the difference between him and other people he replied that if other people were asked to find a needles in haystack they would find one then give up, but he would keep looking.”

    Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius, Michael Michalko


  79. John, I’d agree with most of yr points in response to Klein’s thesis which I put forward as an example of the many ideas or hypotheses about human evolution that are being posited.

    For instance. Bipedalism is today considered the most important evolutionary change which affected the spurt in brain size of earliest human ancestors. Bipedalism freed the arms and hands to carry, fashion tools and made possible the descent of the larynx which lies much lower in our throats than in apes meaning it rested in a much better position to form vowels and consonants. Bipedalism also changed the pattern of breathing which improved the quality of sound.

    Eating meat – made easier through the use of tools to cut carcasses – provided not only better nutrition but because it was easier to chew than tough plant material helped modify the structure of the jaw encouraging different finer muscles to develop which enabled subtler movements of the tongue necessary for speech. Cutting tools by supplementing the teeth may have helped teeth become smaller – also useful for speech.

    Such developments were a spin off of bipedalism and meat eating. Perhaps.

    Another related theory: Nina Jablonski and George Carlin of the California Academy of Sciences. The reason humans became bipedal was as a way to appear bigger and more threatening in contests with other animals for access to food i.e. bipedalism though a physical change to the body frame developed because it had behavioral or psychological consequences of an evolutionary kind. It had an instinctive element and therefore can be said have originated in the brain.

  80. John, I also agree totally with your comments about “libertarians” Catallaxy-style wilful and I believe self-serving blindness to economic power and big business and the corporate world and, of course, class, and could wax lyrical about such matters at great length. But then I was a Marxist (or influenced by it) from age about 14 to 35 and still find much of its methodology useful in understanding the world today particularly on a macro level despite it being so immensely more complex economically and in all possible ways today that when that economic and political theory was first developed.

  81. The reason humans became bipedal was as a way to appear bigger and more threatening in contests with other animals for access to food i.e. bipedalism though a physical change to the body frame developed because it had behavioral or psychological consequences of an evolutionary kind. It had an instinctive element and therefore can be said have originated in the brain.

    A lovely idea. Reminds me of something once said about bipedalism: very useful in Savannah country because unlike 4 legged creates an upright one can hide behind trees.

  82. John. Do you have information on when we went from 48 to 46 chromosomes? Can the geneticists suss that one out?

  83. John. Do you have information on when we went from 48 to 46 chromosomes? Can the geneticists suss that one out?

    Primates have 48, LCA is circa 5 or 8 mya ago I think. I’ll do a search.


    A team of researchers has proposed new limits on the time when the most recent common ancestor of humans and their closest ape relatives — the chimpanzees — lived. Scientists at Arizona State and Penn State Universities have placed the time of this split between 5 and 7 million years ago — a sharper focus than that given by the previous collection of molecular and fossil studies, which have placed the divergence anywhere from 3 to 13 million years ago.

  85. Indeed John and if you can escape being eaten or killed by another then by definition you improve your reproductive chances enormously.

    However to complicate things further, several species of bipedal apes have been found in Africa, all the way back to Sahelanthropus tchadensis, that lived 6-7 million yrs ago in region of Chad and was close to the common ancestor for chimps and humans.

  86. Philomena,

    There are two broad groups here: gracile and
    “rugged”. The species you are referring to are probably austraopithocenes(spelling!). A separate branch from our evolutionary lineage, died out circa the timeframe you mentioned. Hazy memory on this though.

  87. Whoops, that “robustus” not rugged

  88. The use of tools thesis as decisive in the development of bipedalism is undermined by the fact that the 6 million mark or thereabouts is a long time before the oldest stone tools have been dated to, which is around 2.5 million years, so hard to see how the two developments can be linked.

    But the link between stone tools and biological development occurred because it’s thought until 2.5 million years ago humans’ diet was vegetarian. The development of stone technology accompanied an evolutionary increase in brain size cos the tools enabled the consumption of meat.

  89. The development of stone technology accompanied an evolutionary increase in brain size cos the tools enabled the consumption of meat.

    Also the development of fire, which greatly aids meat digestion. Look at chimps, big gut, ours is much smaller. The adaptation to meat eating facilitated a smaller gut, thereby allowing a redirecting of metabolism towards feeding our hungry brains. The adult human brain is 2% of bodyweight and consumes 20% of all resources.

    Earliest dating for fire is 1.5 million. The evolutionary trajectory from homo habilus(more like an erect small brained ape than a hominid) to ergaster, brain size moving from 600 cc in habilus to circa 1100 cc in ergaster. Ergaster emerged, not sure on this, 1.5 m to 2m years ago.

  90. Yeah who could forget Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Australopithecus afarensis. What a gal.

  91. “Primates have 48, LCA is circa 5 or 8 mya ago I think. I’ll do a search.”

    Right but no news on when the chromosomes went from 48 to 46. Is there a reason for this? Is there a technical reason why they cannot take the fossil and determine whether he’s a Mr 48? Or a Mr 46?

    Or is it the case that anyone who sussed that out and came up with the “wrong” answer would find himself the victim of the usual science maffia reaction?

    Surely this is a decisive jump right there. Here we have all known extant primates with 48. And ourselves with 46? And I remember nowhere seeing if Erectus or Neanderthal have a chromosome count attached to them.

    This is very strange. Its like the case of the dog that didn’t bark. What are the technical impediments? Surely they have a chromosome count for Lucy even? Why not?

  92. And not forgetting Homo rudolfensis who like habilis and ergaster had a bigger brain than Lucy and the other hominid species and very different thumbs. Habilis had an ape-type body with more human-like face and teeth and rudolfensis was the other way around – cute body, ape-like face.

    Like chimps Lucy and co had curved, narrow-tipped fingers and short thumbs – good for grasping branches. Humans have shorter straighter fingers with squat tips and larger thicker thumbs, all the better for grasping things like stones.

  93. I’ve seen a presentation that goes like this:

    The human cell has 46 chromosones. So each of the gametes, the ovum and the sperm cells have 23 each. Whereas in the known extant primates the gametes have 24 each. Looking at them diagrammatically it appears quite clear what happened. The first second third and fourth chromosomes in diagrammatic form, of the chimp, gorilla and human are placed next to eachother in some sort of pictorial representation on the same screen.

    Now dig this. It looks like, in the case of the humans, they just took the ape chromosomes 2 & 3 and simply knitted them together.

    But then thats a real hard ask from an evolutionary perspective. Since this means that a female, with a knitted 2 & 3 Chromosone, somehow discovered a male with a knitted 2&3 Chromosone, and with that coincidental union, we had spectacularly successful offspring.

    I find this to be so bizarrely unlikely that it means the alien interventionists need a seat at the table. They may not pan out to be right. But they ought to be part of the line-up of paradigms for testing.

    Since we must always get away from the oppressive doctrine of the serial monogamy of paradigms.

  94. The first second third and fourth chromosomes in diagrammatic form, of the chimp, gorilla and human are placed next to eachother in some sort of pictorial representation on the same screen.

    Damn, I saw a doco on this only two weeks ago. A doco on intelligent design no less. I can’t remember the chromosome numbers but you can actually see a teleomere structure in the middle of one chromosome, the clear implication being that two chromosomes fused at some point because teleomeres are at the end of chromosomes.

    Now this raises a very challenging problem. If a mutation occurs at that point in a single individual how does transmission occur. One possible explanation is that it occurred in one family only and over time it, probably quickly, spread through that entire tribe. Some genetic analyses do argue that there is a literal “eve”. That is, circa 150,000 years ago, all our ancestors derived from this one single group. It is probable that any mating between this family line and other archaic hominid lines would fail so it may well be the case that we emerged from this single family. I can only speculate.

  95. Right. So without intervention we are talking about a serious amount of incestual clan relations. Makes perfect sense in the face of repeated glacial periods and extinction-lite, or traumatic events ……. that cull the numbers down below tribe, to wandering clan level, and cause semi-but-not-total isolation.

    Here is the wiki take. And I think this is basically proof:

    “All members of Hominidae except humans have 24 chromosomes. Humans have only 23 chromosomes. Human chromosome 2 is widely accepted to be a result of an end-to-end fusion of two ancestral chromosomes. [3][4]

    Fusion of ancestral chromosomes left distinctive remnants of telomeres, and a vestigial centromere

    The evidence for this includes:

    The correspondence of chromosome 2 to two ape chromosomes. The closest human relative, the bonobo, has near-identical DNA sequences to human chromosome 2, but they are found in two separate chromosomes. The same is true of the more distant gorilla and orangutan. [5][6]

    The presence of a vestigial centromere. Normally a chromosome has just one centromere, but in chromosome 2 we see remnants of a second. [7]

    The presence of vestigial telomeres. These are normally found only at the ends of a chromosome, but in chromosome 2 we see additional telomere sequences in the middle. [8]”

    Its absolutely crucial that we pin down the first proven fossil with 46 chromosomes rather than 48. The investigators are really just mucking about if they don’t have their ears pinned back to find this matter out.

    I’ve looked at Neanderthal. And there appears to be a sort of cold silence when it comes to “authoritative” sites confirming that Neanderthal had 48 Chromosomes. I smell science-maffia and taboo afoot. They don’t look like they got the answer they were after.

    But pretty much every sites says that Neanderthal had 48. But these are blogs, rebel and outlier sites. I haven’t found an “official” pronouncement so far.

    You find stuff out often by looking for the priesthood taboos, and the evasive answers they give when you put them under scrutiny.

  96. Its absolutely crucial that we pin down the first proven fossil with 46 chromosomes rather than 48. The investigators are really just mucking about if they don’t have their ears pinned back to find this matter out.

    Can’t be done, most genetic studies on human lineage rely on mitochondrial DNA, not nuclear DNA. There is, more often than not, no actual DNA to examine, just very complex mathematical modeling of mitochondrial DNA evolution.

    The Neandertal lineage appears to have emerged from the Heidelberg Stem circa 550,000 years ago so it is probable that they had 48 chromosomes.

  97. Surely there can be no inherent advantage to fusing two chromosomes together? My goodness you would think precisely the opposite.

    Truly a troubling story. One which must be gotten to the bottom of. The only advantage I can see is it might cut you off from watering down your newly adapted gene with the inlanders. Like you’d made all these adaptations somehow during thousands of years spearing fish and opening up shell-fish, getting all that omega fat, and with the cold advantaging neotony. But you keep going back to the inland sheilas and mixing up the gene pool again in the interglacial.

    So if this coastal mutation had happened the only advantage would be in keeping a thouroughbred line of sea-shell traders, shell-fish eaters, hewers of floating wood vessels, swimmers, and spearers of fish.

  98. Surely there can be no inherent advantage to fusing two chromosomes together? My goodness you would think precisely the opposite.

    Yeah, usually such a change results in catastrophe. This is a problem they will conveniently put down to a “happy mutation”

  99. Imagine that. No advantage inherently conferred. But an advantage simply in cutting your clan off from ever breeding with the hairy inlander riff-raff?

    How bizzare is that story?

    The reality of the very strangeness of our evolution is such that if we are not going down the alien intervention road, we have to postulate this sort of thing.

    This means of course that a lot of our alleged ancestry is probably just about the inroads of the coastal folks who did have the 48 genes and so never could keep the lineage free of remixing with the hominid inlanders. Well its a thought. And so this kept the offspring of the clan who came up with the 46 chromosomes down a more new-niche evolutionary path. Now picked up hardly at all in the record. The record having its outrageous and implausible looking leaps of multiple changes.

  100. Studies of homo erectus skulls found in China show many (controversial) similarities with those of Mongoloids and Native Americans. These include a midline ridge along the top of the skull, a shape of the lower jaw and of some teeth which suggested Chinese homo erectus constributed some genes to later Asian and native American Homo sapiens.

    However no trace of homo erectus or homo neanderthal has even been found in America or above the 53 degress north parallel suggesting only H. sapiens successfully adapted to very cold weather.

  101. So a negative advantage becomes a positive advantage only in terms of conferring isolation, so all the hard yards of many generations of adaptation never get watered down in the more expansive gene pool.

    But by its nature this isolation itself is to do with the species hiving off to a different niche. Perhaps a niche not condusive to winding up dead in the fossil record. And so the adaption can continue uninterupted away from the glare of the cameras. Only when the species develops a sort of outer form and skills that confer it a generalised superiority does it escape the marginal niche and become the new evolutionary superstar. Just leaping in front of the evolutionary cameras again, multiple innovations seemingly arriving out of nowhere. And certainly outrageous enough to give a good case the intelligent interventionists.

    Since after all most of the evolutionary record is of a disturbing jump-cut nature. There is no denying that. And explaining the reason for that ought to be the key clue for the detective.

    It could really be that to get the clean isolation you need you really have to have, in some circumstances, a change in chromosome count.


    These guys reckon almost no interbreeding between sapiens and erectus. Maybe that indicates the chromosomal divide is already apparent right there. Does anyone have the overlap time period?

    Now you would think that the fellas might just grab at the Erectus sheilas. But we might not suggest the chromosomal fix is already in. Because their sheilas were much stronger than our blokes.

    We might have been so fearful of the muscular power of these guys we made sure they stayed inland and never came to our niches. Stayed away from any of the niches we had decisively taken over.

    But if one of our fellas went to go taking advantage of one of their girls, well one on one he would risk her just basically ripping his head off. Us being so much weaker one on one.

  103. “Studies of homo erectus skulls found in China show many (controversial) similarities with those of Mongoloids and Native Americans. ”

    I’ll make sure I pass this news onto Jason when next he shows up. But its interesting you say this. Since it wasn’t that many years ago when a lot of people thought it was us Europeans carrying around a lot of Neanderthal genes. Its probably a common thought. I think I might have assumed this not all that long ago. It will be interesting to see what view proves decisive.

    Although the study I just cited may seem to negate the supposition you quoted. And so some alleged features of the outer form may merely therefore be coincidental.

  104. Just circling back to other topics. Quoting from oil is mastery:

    “An exotic form of matter was proposed when astronomers realized that stars traveled around the edge of a spiral galaxy with the same angular velocity as stars close to the center. This was a quandary, since according to Newton’s theory they should be slower. Therefore, astronomers assumed that a form of dark matter was imparting extra gravitational energy to the stars. It was called “dark” because the theory states that it cannot be detected, except indirectly.

    This unseen matter is said to be sustaining all galaxies, preventing them from flying apart. Over the years, research groups have been trying to reconcile the lack of mass in the Universe, particularly in galaxy clusters, with their recessional velocity. There is not enough gravity in the visible stars and gas clouds to account for that velocity, as well as the consolidation of individual galaxies and clusters.”

    These people know nothing about gravity. So they just make things up. Its disgraceful the lack of scientific rigour here.

    Anyway my version of the way the galaxies work does come into play in this evolutionary theory.

    As I am sold on the growing earth theory. And this theory also implies that the galaxy is growing. The stars are growing and so forth.

    So we have this galaxy with individual bodies within it growing. But notice our galaxies makeup. It is all these bodies revolving around a disk. At the same time we appear to be tracing a sort of sine wave over and above that disk. And as the quote says that angular momentum of the outer stars is fairly equal to the inner stars. Contradicting Newtons naive version of gravity.

    Anyway you have these spiral arms that appear to be wrapping themselves up. But they don’t wrap themselves up. This is where I think a lot of culling is going on.

    I think what likely happens is that when there gets to be too much mass for space in the inner galaxy you may get these galactic centre explosions set off which wind up culling stars and planets. The inner stars and planets disproportionately. Not only do they cull unstable stars and planets. But they send an outer shock that stops these spiral arms wrapping up.

    Now play this story back in deep time many billions of years. Forgetting of course the foolish big bang time limit. If life doesn’t originate in another galaxy entire, then it will get kicked off near the centre of the small but growing milky way many billions of years ago. And so intelligent life winds up first in or near those solar systems that are now near the centre.

    ((((((In this story moons progress to planets which progress to stars. )))))))))

    So what this means is that for life to stand a chance of survival it must either find a way of protecting its planet and stars from Galactic centre convulsions that would lead to its solar system and home planets being culled.

    Or wannabe survivors are forced to migrate outwards.

    This brings in an inter-stella side to evolution. It makes the inter-stella side of evolution virtually inevitable.

  105. [audio src="" /]

    Here is a tape on alleged (and to me very credible) upcoming fresh water shortages.

    You can see how with my views of economics, semi-extinction and extinction events, the potential for nuclear war, the problem of the exponential series and so forth.

    Well what spits out of this story is desalination canals as the ultimate long-term project. It may be a thousand year project. Just to take the Australian continent and max out on these canals. Coastal civilisation is the most economically sound arrangement. But its doomed. The inland is to protect us from the extinction events.

    So the only answer to escape from stagnation and doom is the inland canals.

  106. For a long time there was a raging argument in paleoanthropology. On one side was the multi-regional hypothesis, which argued that humans evolved in separate regions and basically ended up being the same. A type of genetic convergence. The other is the Out of Africa idea, which is now dominant and this mainly because of mitochondrial DNA studies. As to species interbreeding there has been some evidence to support this and generally it probably did occur at the margins but I doubt it significantly altered the gene pool that much.

    The Native Americans are direct descendents of Mongoloids. There is even some evidence that Australian aborigines were present in North America and wiped out by later waves of migration. Strikingly, the native peoples of Tierro del Feugo, the tip of S. America, showing some striking similiarities to Australian aborigines. This is very conjectural and I’m relying on data I read nearly a decade ago so it could be all wrong.

    There are also some controversial interpretations of finds in Australia. Kow Swamp or Lake Mungo, not sure, but it appears that even in Australia there may have been a population of erectus. It is firmly established that Erectus did reach Indonesia and possibly Flores Island, suggesting sea faring ability.

  107. “As to species interbreeding there has been some evidence to support this and generally it probably did occur at the margins but I doubt it significantly altered the gene pool that much.”

    Right. But the differing chromosomal count brings it to a dead halt. And like I said, chromosomal fusion cannot be an inherent advantage. It must only be an advantage to stop the interbreeding. Which if it is an advantage therefore implies that such interbreeding is a real problem.

    If interbreeding isn’t a big problem then the chromosomal innovation cannot be an advantage.

    So without alien intervention we would have to consider that the failure to at least have partial isolation implies an ability to adapt, or at the very least to evolve substantially.

  108. You see I think we really have to internalize the fact that the evolutionary story is distorted by the fact that only some niches are suited to get you in front of the evolutionary cameras.

    You won’t find yourself in this story if you are in the deep forests. Or if you are a coastal hominid for the most part. Only if you are in the lightly wooded areas or the savannah.

    So the story of interbreeding you are seeing is a real story. Just not the story after the chromosonal fix is in.

    Its not the story of the mainline of evolutionary progress probably. Its cameo appearances of the half-breeds to a great extent I would think.

  109. You are forgetting that our species was not the only type of sapiens at the time. Also there is no clear line as to when the chromosomal change occurred but we must presume it a long way back, even before the erectus line emerged. Remember, it separates us from the other primates, not the evolution of hominidae. The critical change from erectus to us may well have involved the fox gene but obviously quite a few others as well. It is probable that erectus had speech and definitely showed signs of improved technology, so interbreeding may have occurred.

  110. Note also if my latest theory is not the reality how could it be that the species keep progressing and keep getting more and more chromosones? If the fusing or splitting of chromosones has to be assumed to be a short-run disadvantage?

    So the isolation from having your new-niche adaptations watered down, by going back to your ancestral digs and fooling about, really has to be a big part of this picture. Or else how would the chromosomal count keep growing?

  111. I shall call my new theory “Graeme Birds Theory Of Chromosomal Isolation.” Which dovetails into the theory of the “Advantage Of Chromosomal Isolaton, to New-Niche Evolutionary Adaptation.”

    Since we need to know why an inherent medium term curse leads to a longer-term advantage.

  112. Interestingly, Downs Syndrome involves an extra chromosome or part thereof.

  113. Right. An example where having an different number of chromosomes is very much a disadvantage. And surely this is the rule, rather than the exception. Hence we must look for an overmatching advantage.

  114. It is a very complex issue Graeme. The models of DNA replication and chromsomal structure they taught us in high school are very misleading. Read this link, it is quite fascinating to realise that a cancer cell can have deranged chromosomes and still survive.

    Life is very strange,_Duesberg0507,_SciAm.pdf

  115. Right. But can a cancer gamete, with a different number of chromosomes, match up with a normal gamete and create an individual who is functional?

    I don’t thinkso.

    You need to have the same chromosomes to mate for the most part. And at the level of the complex organism this is going to clearly start off as a disadvantage.

  116. Yes Graeme but the point of that article is to demonstrate that our assumptions about how genes work are in need of revision. This type of damage should be killing cells outright but it doesn’t, it can make them thrive. Such damage should be devastating yet somehow these cells thrive. Very challenging at the assumption level about how genes work.

  117. Right yes the cells can survive. But we are talking about the survival of the organism.

  118. There seems to be many things strange about our species. Lloyd Pye points out that we have maybe 4000 common genetic defects. And now each of us might carry maybe 50 of them. Whereas he thinks the normal primates just have a few. This also needs to be explained if true.

    He’s probably one of the most convincing of the interventionist advocates. He considers the disorders as likely to do with a bit of a rushed and careless job of gene-splicing.

  119. There is another way of looking at this. The London based psychiatrist David Horrobin, who did not ground breaking work in relation to fatty acid synthesis in the human brain and its implications for various psychopathologies, has argued that human beings are much susceptible to cancer because programmed cell death (apoptosis) is the principle means of preventing cancer but also can lead to high rates of cerebral cell death. So evolution left us with a propensity towards cancer in order to allow those massive brains to survive. This is a speculative and
    attractive argument.

    Additionally, we are a relatively young species which has introduced thousands of chemicals into the environment for which our bodies are not prepared to contend with. So it is not surprising that humans have high rates of DNA damage because there is a “settling” of the genotype and because we exist in so many different environments and pollute the environment we are susceptible to greater rates of DNA damage.

  120. “So evolution left us with a propensity towards cancer in order to allow those massive brains to survive. This is a speculative and
    attractive argument.”

    Right. But just how attractive is it? Since in that current wording it assumes malice-afforethought for evolution as if evolution was a conscious thing. We want our explanations to show how the path taken could be maintained in the medium term, and be made advantageous quickly enough to confer great advantage not too far down the track. The way you have it hear sounds too much like a whig view of evolution. Some more thought would need to go into this one.

    Check this out. And Finns have this language wherein its pretty hard to say much about its origins.

    “Cro-Magnon were anatomically modern, only differing from their modern day descendants in Europe by their more robust physiology and slightly larger cranial capacity.[13] Of modern nationalities, Finns are closest to Cro-Magnons in terms of anthropological measurements.[14]”

    But this here seems to be the most significant step. The clear step out of primate-town:

    “The dividing lines that separate modern humans from archaic Homo sapiens and archaics from Homo erectus are blurry….”

    I don’t know about that. I would think from what I’ve seen that the separation of archiacs from Erectus is night and day. Absolutely night and day and no comparison.

    And archiacs from us is probably fairly mild and along the lines of simple adaptation rather than full-blown evolution.

    “The earliest known fossils of anatomically modern humans such as the Omo remains from 195kya, Homo sapiens idaltu from 160kya, and Qafzeh remains from 90kya are recognizably modern humans.

    However, these early modern humans do exhibit a mix of some archaic traits, such as moderate, but not prominent, brow ridges.”

    Very superficial. With Erectus you’ve got massively thicker bones. Far more powerful then us skinny weaklings. No comparison on the bone level. But you see the artists renderings and they are made out to look very similar to us. They are pictured as being pretty lean. But their thick bones give themselves away as being built more like a super-hairy version of Benjamin Grimm. Because you don’t have the thick bones without having the full muscle bulk packed around those bones.

    See look at that. Slim build and hairless body. Made to look like they are almost human. I think this is pretty bogus. Since with the thick bones they had you’d have incredible bulk muscle to go with it.

    Who knows. Maybe their sheilas looked more like this:

    And of course the blokes could have been taller, thicker, heavier, stronger.

    The thing is when they give you the typical lineup, they will usually make their version of Erectus shorter than sapien and maybe a little lighter. This is foolish. Erectus appears to have been taller. And how can one not assume massively thicker build to go with the thicker bones? So I think we have been given a warped view of matters.

  121. Since in that current wording it assumes malice-afforethought for evolution as if evolution was a conscious thing

    No it doesn’t, it was one of those chance events that allowed rapid encephalisation. I cannot explain this in full because you need to understand a lot about cerebral maturation and immunology.

    However, these early modern humans do exhibit a mix of some archaic traits, such as moderate, but not prominent, brow ridges.”

    Go and look at an fully blooded modern aborigine and you will find similiar characteristics. Some have even argued that there is a sub-popn of aborigines that represent a mix of archaic and modern humans but genetic studies tend to contradict this.

  122. Right. But these would be largely superficial traits.

    Yes you can explain the argument if its a good one. Thats no problem. If the logic holds up there is no reason why you cannot explain it.

    I’ve been looking through the google and I cannot get a very clear description of Homo Erectus at all. So its very hard to confirm or deny ones prejudices on these matters.

  123. To explain that argument would require thousands of words. This is complex stuff and I’m not going to simplify it. Cerebral maturation in humans in a delicate process, neurons are very easily killed. During our development there are two waves of apoptosis, shortly after birth and at the onset of puberty. Schizophrenia is associated with accelerated loss of tissue during these phases, an increase in autoimmune disease and heightened resistance to cancer. That’s the nutshell.

  124. No it ought not take thousands of words at all. What you have to show is that there isn’t too much of a disadvantage conferred in the medium term to give you an advantage in the longer term. Evolution won’t hold out the window of opportunity too long on that one. Particularly if you need, in the interim, to have pelvic expansion with both male and female but particularly with the female, to hold out the hope of soon capitalising on the POTENTIAL advantage.

    So if this cannot be shown then its not like you need send the idea totally to the fires. Rather you would allow the idea to fall in terms of the ranking of the paradigms you have on the fly.

    Since the potential for cancer is only one of the things we have wrong with us. There is many hundreds more that the primates lack. Here then we can unemotionally pull up higher in the ranking the outside intervention paradigm. Even if we didn’t start off thinking it was so crash hot.

    The only thing with the intervention paradigm is it can lead to a sort of “God Of Gaps” scenario. Instead of God did it. Then every problems solution becomes the aliens did it. And that leads to a dead stop in ones thinking. Which is a good reason why you would always have a number of paradigms in the air.

    The key point here is that the potential for an advantage down the track cannot help the critters get by day to day. So one must show how the mutants don’t have to be carried for too long by their clan. One has to show some advantage realised pretty early on.

  125. The advantage is obvious, an increase in cancer, a condition which occurs well past the reproductive years, and an increase in cerebral volume, which occurs immediately. Increased survival and reproduction capacity but the risk of cancer will occur when in those times most have died from other causes. So the cancer risk is largely irrelevant to those early hominids but the increased survival advantage is immediate and striking.

  126. Thats a pretty good explanation right there. When is he estimating the change came in.

  127. Too hard to know Graeme but human beings have an unusual need for to maintain a very careful fatty acid balance. It probably occurred with erectus, the first species where you see a marked increase in encephalisation, circa 1.5 million year ago.

  128. Those shellfish would be good for this sort of thing right?

  129. Exactly, that is why the Aquatic Ape idea gained so much currency for a while. Human beings have a strong need for omega 3 fatty acids and seafood is the best source.

  130. Right. I don’t think this is an idea that ought ever have gone away. Without alien intervention we have a lot of explaining to do. And coastal/glacial-pushed evolution has to be part of that.

    Hey do you have any ideas on bringing the cost of canal-building down? Are there really big energy-efficient machines, and combining this sort of thing with explosives? Are there cheap materials to stop the salt water leaching out?

    I liked the idea of eventually covering the canals with ETFE and capturing the evaporated moisture that might collect on the top and then run down the sides. But the actual building of the trench might outrun the ability to cheaply cover it. And even that might be OK too because bringing a lot of salt-water inland might alter the climate eventually. The evaporation might find itself creating extra clouds and rain that falls on the land. Or on the other hand the percentage of that might not amount to much.

  131. Here is a youtube showing the extent of the Panama Canal. Clearly to get something worthwhile going here over decades and centuries we’ve got the figure out ways to bring the building costs right down. But really you want canals with that sort of width eventually. That way you can get the really cheap heavy-cargo transport. And you can get pilotless boats delivering stuff factory to factory.

    But this has to be a long-term thing. You don’t want it to be any burden on the taxpayer.


    A link given to me by Philomena. The solution here, which would make it easy to practice ideas of this sort. Is clear homesteading rules. There is all sorts of marginal lands, and even less marginal lands currently unused, on either sides of the roads in Australia. And there is no reason why good homesteading rules cannot be applied, so people can invest in intensively using this land, without even a purchase price for that land.

  133. Graeme re your water proposal.

    If you think about it water is an inherently monopolistic commodity and requires long term and large capital investment. The use of tax revenue has generally been the only way through which successful development of large scale water works or irrigation schemes such as they one you propose have been successfully implemented. Certainly that is true of the underdeveloped world today and of many sectors of the developed world too.

    I don’t think the public vs private ownership question is key in the sense that large scale water provision and distribution in massed populations is already fully commodified and has been for a long time. But do you agree or not that private sector involvement in the water sector is in most cases dependent on public involvement, public investment and a regulatory environment that can achieve profitability and efficiency?

  134. Yes for sure. You can answer that question by considering the following question. Supposing you were rich. And you wanted to spend your money on some sort of water proposal. How much schmoozing with government types would you have to do?

    A lot right?

    To me its time for something to be in private hands when such schmoozing is no longer an issue and everyone knows where they stand. “Whiskey is for drinking, Water if for fighting over”.

    You can see if one party comes in, and diverts a whole lot of water the people downstream from that diversion point are likely to be really upset. Two States can get in massive disputes over one river. Is it time for free enterprise under such conditions? Where does the businessman stand under those circumstances? What chance does he have. Well a fine chance indeed if he’s a crony, going behind closed doors, contributing to this or that re-election fund. Cutting everyone else out. But thats not free enterprise properly considered.

    Where we can make it purely free enterprise (not pure competition which is something else) then we ought to do it.

    Supposing you suss it out that a patient socialist project will give you cost-effectiveness improvement of nominal GDR growth -2% per year. So if GDR was invariant and your project was very slow and not costly it would bring prices down 2% per year.

    Suppose if you can you can do it in a free enterprise way you will reduce costs faster. More like GDR-4% per year.

    Well this may not be an unrealistic comparison. Where free enterprise is possible. Where you’ve found a way to have the rules so that free enterprise is a plausible option you ought to do it that way.

    Because if you have a messy socialist-private system, like say American Medical care, whose growth in costs has been more like GDP + 2%, then this can wind up swallowing all budgets. Sucking endless funds out of the economy.

    Free enterprise is better but its got to be real free enterprise. So if you haven’t found out how to do that, then its not yet time to sell off the project.

    Consider that long-term canal-building thing. I’d never contemplate putting more than 5000 a day into it. I’d just be wanting them to find out what are the barriers, local federal and state. Find out how to do things more and more cheaply. Ultimately once you were into the clear desert areas, without conflict of interests all around, you would likely figure out a way to allow private entities to come in on a level playing field. For this section or for that section, or to improve the land either side of the canal.

    Only if the operator could prove to me that increasing the daily budget would give you a lot more canal per dollar, then you might think about increasing the budget to allow these clear and present cost reductions. Part of the project has to be about finding a way where the private sector is no longer inhibited by three layers of government into making similar investments.

    This goes for a lot of things. Supposing you inherit 100m dollars. Without schmoozing bigtime, could you reasonably get some government coastal land and start setting up wharves and things? If the answer is no its not a free enterprise situation facing us for wharves. And we have to figure what will breach that gap. Part of these 3 or 4 projects I’d be thinking of for no more than 5000 a day budgets is simply to spearhead the process of overcoming that gap. So one day you can say “sure I could start building a wharf if I had that money. Everything is pre-approved. Thousands of sites to choose from, and the governments have already sussed out the clear terms and conditions for any Australian citizen with the money to just go and get started with it. The purchase prices and conditions are known. The tax exemptions for the sole trader crews and employees I use in contruction are already in place. There is far more land pre-approved for wharves then will possibly be taken up for that purpose.”

    The above is a more free enterprise setup. Until we get there we will be selling short all such types of investments. Wharves, rail, canals, anything that contains knotty problems associated with it.

  135. I’ll come back to your answer anon.

    But on another matter, if I may.

    I notice you’ve favourably mentioned/recommended “homesteading” by which I presume you mean small to medium or even broadscale sustainable self-sufficient farming enterprises such as the one you envisaged in the central Australian desert region given a greening accomplished by massive canalised irrigation systems.

    My question is this. Is it not a fact that such farming enterprises even in relatively fertile, river or aquifer-fed regions nearer to the coast have become over the last 50 years plus increasingly non-viable for people with no other source of income or fallback?

    And if so, then what conditions would be different or need to be so, to allow small producers to make a living in such an even more hostile, challenging environment that you have envisaged?

  136. Well see that fellow who had some interesting ideas on forestry in dry conditions?

    If he’s right, he would have more chances to exploit his ideas, if he could claim ownership, of previously unowned land, by virtue of improving it in an intensive way.

    Homesteading doesn’t specifically relate to small-scale farming. The doctrine of homesteading is more to do with how to acquire ownership of resources not previously in use.

    At the moment, since there aren’t clear homesteading rules in lets say Arnemland, the aborigines would seem to be governed more or less under communism. And they have no real chance to create wealth.

    Another way of putting ownership in private hands is to do really stupid things. Like auction off fishery rights to some real bigshots, in some massive bigshot auction. The Frankenstein consortium set up to take advantage of this travesty is now in great debt. And the Chinese Communist front group buys a controlling interest in the firm and our economists call this free enterprise.

    Homesteading doesn’t refer to farming per se. Its a set of principles relating to how things ought to go from unused to owned. And one thing it ought to ensure is that big business comes out of small business success, no exceptions.

  137. I’ve never heard of “homesteading” before you mentioned it. Forgive my ignorance. I googled it and thought I read it was allied to permaculture and sustainable farming.

    I think my points are important. It’s very hard if not impossible for most small farmers in Australia to make a living off the land and often only possible to continue for those who are rich from other means or have fulltime jobs doing something entirely else. It has been this way for a long time, something I personally know from family history.

    Of course many people dream of returning to the land, getting out of the cities, being close to nature and growing a farm whether it be dairy olives, macadamias or fruit trees. But truly so few can make this a viable business despite all the will and hardwork in the world. Why?

  138. Well you start off in an undeveloped economy. In that setup you might have 95% of people working in the agricultural setup. From there there is a natural tendency for less and less people to produce more and more food. Then you get that natural attrition from the farms.

    Other things that can hurt is a financial setup which by its nature encourages people to be in debt. And then they have a string of bad luck and they have to sell land down below some base amount which is economical to farm.

    I think we can have a setup that sort of leans towards the family farm but it cannot be too much of a lean or else this becomes uneconomic. For example if you had Ken Henry’s land tax. But then you had a threshold for the adult owner of the farm. And a further threshold for each registered dependent. On top of that we can say that primary food production is a strategic good (for example in time of blockade) and make it tax exempt.

    Beyond those two measures one ought not go. Because you’ll wind up getting good money chasing bad. But those two measures might in practice be enough. And if the farmer goes through a bad patch he might be able to lease for ten years, rather than sell his land, to some big agribusiness outfit. And then reconstitute his act down the track. Because the big agribusiness outfit will then face the land tax from acre-1. Whereas farmers and farmer-wannabes have a threshold. So instead of the whole thing being swallowed by agribusiness you might have a lot of leasing backwards and forwards, but the family farm and the smaller farmer always being a big part of that story.

  139. “I think my points are important. It’s very hard if not impossible for most small farmers in Australia to make a living off the land and often only possible to continue for those who are rich from other means or have fulltime jobs doing something entirely else.”

    Thats an interesting point there. If agriculture is being driven by income tax deductions, for income that has nothing to do with farming, then this could outcompete the full-time farmers. Like if millionaire broadcasters, surgeons, and other folks can get out of the income tax, via big tax write-offs if they take up agriculture, this in itself might be crowding the full-time farmer out. I don’t know to what extent this could be happening.

  140. Well. Graeme. You’re a spin doctor extraordinaire. What I can’t work out is would you sell yourself to the highest bidder or stand on your principles.

  141. I don’t think the bidding is starting any time soon. And if you get the setup right, thats where the schmooze-money end.

    There was some talk over at catallaxy about whether all the business lobbying government was corrupt. And the neoclassicals were scornful as to whether this was necessarily corrupt practice.

    But they were missing the point. Since when you get the rules right there is no need for lobbying. Everyone knows where they stand, and their work is cut out for them. They can get on with the producing of wealth.

  142. Who knows. Perhaps the newly arrived Asian migrants employed growing green vegetables on land owned and leased by the government to ethnic-run co-operatives in inner city regions are getting a better deal and more reliable wage income than property owning farmers who simply don’t have the requisite economies of scale to make their businesses profitable in a harsh and unpredictable environment.

  143. I don’t think there would be much temptation in that regard for someone who knows what he wants to get done and cannot possibly do it all. Its when people are not particularly sure of which way to go, then they can be coaxed easily down one path or another.

    Supposing I held elected office. The compensation is pretty fantastic. It would put me way above where I could imagine being tempted in this way.

    When you are convinced you know what you are doing, you don’t hold these national ideas seminars, or spend time overseas at all sorts of junkets.

    Think of how far we are from the situation I envisage? We don’t want to be run from the centre. So to get the sort of things I want done that implies persuasion persuasion persuasion.

    Any decent Federal bigshot ought to be talking to local mayors and Premiers and trying to bring them on board. A commonwealth politician cannot exercise much influence abroad. He can stop an invasion through manifest firepower. So the idea is to be strong and internally focused. Strong so you don’t need to think about foreign miscreants and can stay at home.

    Most people can be swayed by temptations wrapped in pretty packages and not crudely put over in brown paper bags. But if I was in Kevin Rudds position I don’t think I’d have time to even meet the people who might put these various enticements to my notice. All I would be involved in was was having to get round trying to persuade the localities and the regions that there are better ways to do things. And that we are a million light-years from the better society and need to set out for it.

  144. I think there is a great deal more to be said here about the difference between tax deductions and long-term tax exemptions. The latter is far more neutral to resource allocation. And examples will show that the full-time farmer who really wanted to stay on his farm would likely make a far better fist of it under conditions brought about by the latter policy.

    Whereas an established agribusiness gets to expand naturally under conditions of tax deductions, since he will match his established profits elsewhere, with new developments competing against someone starting out. If the fellow starting out is to show a profit, this is taxed. So his tendency is to run a riskier act. Until such time as he has a run of bad luck.

    It might be thought that getting access to the tax exemption might lead to all sorts of riches. But many small farmers would be sent into retrenchment by the change of policy. Now they are virtually forced to make an accounting profit. Spending that would otherwise be tax deductible may be cut right back on. Since there is no tax to make the deductions about. The small fellow is on a less ambitious but safer trajectory. If he cannot make a profit on his more extensive holdings he can lease some of his farm and consolidate what he has. Running a smaller but more viable outfit until he’s ready to expand.

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