Mailvox: justifying punctuated equilibrium

JB suggests a Sim Earth defense of an evolutionary theory:

Sim Earth has inspired an argument that I think that gives evolution a lot more space to dodge falsifiability on natural selection. Let’s say the point of punctuated equilibrium is that a dynamically selective environment is extremely rare. By dynamically selective I mean consistent gentle pressure to develop a trait.

Perhaps there’s an interplay between DNA’s potential development paths and the rarity of dynamically selective environments, so that their overlap is even rarer. And perhaps proto-organisms in early low-competition ecosystems have far more open development trees, while specialized organisms in high competition late ecosystems are locked in. E.g., it’s much easier for proto-weasel to become meerkat and hyena, than for hyena to become meerkat. Let’s say the latter is impossible.

In other words, to restart the race of life you have to clear out a huge chunk of the ecosystem to let vague blobbies float about figuring out what they want to be. Like the big comet did to the dinosaurs, to pave the mammalian way. To me, that makes punctuated equilibrium sound plausible again. The windows are tiny and rarely encountered even on a planetary scale.

So how do you experimentally replicate the type of evolution described above, when all you’ve got to work with are late stage highly competitive organisms and ecosystems? This argument creates a LOT more space for evolution to defer falsifiability than I thought it had.

Well, it’s certainly a creative approch, but it doesn’t serve well to defer falsifiability because it requires an amount of begging the question. First, there is no evidence that EVERY extant ecosystem is capable of creating the pressure required for natural selection, in fact, the idea of living fossils or ancient species suggests that this is not the case. And if, as JB suggests himself, dynamically selective environments are rare anyhow, then there will be no shortage of proto-organisms with open development trees to be found in the majority of environments which are static and unselective. If this cannot be observed to be the case, then the whole structure collapses.

Needless to say, there’s also no science supporting any of this; from the scientific perspective, we might as legitimately be discussing the theoretical limitations pin heads must place on the potential size of angel feet. However, his argument is at least within the right orbit in that it recognizes the significance of environmental differences with regards to potential natural selection pressures necessary to theoretical evolution taking place.

"Conservatives" and Certifigate

It is truly amazing how many nominally “conservative” media figures are running interference for Barrack Obama, especially considering how many of them demonstrably don’t know what they’re talking about. And Joseph Farah would surely have added National Review to the list had they published their editorial before he wrote his column on the non-issue that everyone is talking about today:

Have you noticed the way the rest of the media discusses the Barack Obama eligibility story? Everyone from Ann Coulter and Michael Medved and Neal Boortz on the right to Geraldo Rivera and Chris Matthews and CNN’s heretofore unknown president want you to know there’s nothing to talk about here.

But yet they keep on talking about it. And they never really explain why they are talking about it and why it’s not worth talking about – other than the fact that it’s all been researched before and Barack Obama really is a “natural born citizen.”

This is why I love writing for WND. They may be a little crazy at times, and their site isn’t exactly a paragon of beautiful design, but I very much admire the way they absolutely refuse to kiss the posteriors of those in power. WND’s reporters continue to uncover more and more details that show the official Obama story to be increasingly improbable.

And much respect for Lou Dobbs, too, who told not only his fellow Democrats, but even his boss at CNN, that he has no intention of backing off until Obama shows his birth certificate, by which he means the LONG-FORM CERTIFICATE of live birth, complete with the name of the hospital, the name of the attending physician, name and address of the parents, the race of the parents and the race of the baby. And speaking of which, yet another anomaly has surfaced, this time the fact that two children born at Kapi’olani after Obama was supposedly born have a lower number on their birth certificates from the state registrar than he does on his birth certification. This proves nothing – yet – but raises further questions.

And how astonishingly stupid does CNN’s Jon Klein have to be to insist that all the original Hawaiian records were destroyed? It probably took WND about two minutes to have a Hawaiian go and request their own documents from the state in order to prove him wrong. Speaking of stupid, those media “conservatives” would do well to look at how Brave Sir Bill’s assertion that the birth certificate issue is “bogus” is going over with readers from their primary market.

And for those moronic Democrats who feign to be happy that this “distraction” is somehow helping Mr. Soetoro, (seriously, when has that sad excuse for a tactic EVER worked), I would encourage you to look at the way his approval ratings have changed since WND kicked its “Where’s the Birth Certificate” campaign into high gear on June 12th. If the campaign is really helping him, then you had better beg Mr. Farah to continue it, because at this precipitous decline, he’ll be driven from office if it stops.

Obamacare and divorce restrictions

The idea that nationalized health care will lead to divorce restrictions sounds absurd. Of course, less than 20 years ago, the idea that smoking might be banned in public sounded equally absurd. Arguably more so, in fact, since there wasn’t a clear line of precedent for it, while there now appears to be a genuine scientific case for restricting or banning divorce in the interest of reducing health care costs:

The end of a marriage means the end of good health for many people, a new study finds. Researchers discovered that people who lost a spouse, whether through divorce or death, were roughly 20% more likely to suffer chronic health problems even if they later remarried, HealthDay reports. The scientists believe the stress of loss causes lasting physical and emotional damage.

I’m assuming, of course, that the government health czars will be reasonable enough to permit marriages to end in the event of one party’s death. I also find it amusing to read the quoted expert’s non sequitur in which it is declared that these results “certainly don’t mean people should stay in high-conflict or abusive marriages for the sake of their health” even though that’s EXACTLY the conclusion that logic dictates.

Interestingly, that 20 percent figure happens to be exactly the same risk that is reported to be the “statistically significant and consistent association between lung cancer risk in spouses of smokers and exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke from the spouse who smokes” for women. One wonders if that same expert would so confidently declare that this certainly doesn’t mean women should object to their husbands smoking for the sake of their health.