Evolution and humans (Evolution)

by dhw, Sunday, May 17, 2015, 12:53 (919 days ago)

I am transferring this discussion to a new thread for reasons which will become apparent at the end of my post.

Tony: Q: How do you know it was unused?
A: We don't, but we assume it wasn't used because to assume otherwise is contrary to the theory of evolution, and our perception of early humanoids as knuckle dragging howling monkey men
.
David: Once again, it was assumed it was used. McCrone describes how he thinks H. habilis and H. erectus had some speech.

TONY: Yes, but it was assumed it was used as grunts and groans, not the eloquent speech we have today. That assumption is squarely based on the assumption that they were knuckle-dragging cave-dwellers, which in turn is squarely based on the theory of evolution's blueprint of common decent from apes.
It is a form of mental gymnastics used to show that we are superior to our ancestors despite the evidence. And I say despite the evidence because, when that evolutionary view is removed, the picture that is painted by the evidence is quite different than the story we tell ourselves today.

http://siberiantimes.com/science/casestudy/features/f0100-stone-bracelet-is-oldest-ever...

What a fascinating article. Many thanks! I am also highly sceptical as regards David's elevation of homo sapiens as the ultimate goal of evolution. Until recently, “Neanderthal” has actually been used as a term of abuse, whereas now we are discovering more and more evidence of their intelligence. (I have just read the equally fascinating article on Neanderthals that you posted earlier. Thank you again.) As for the idea that anatomical changes took place long before they were used, as if in preparation for later usage, it seems to me to run counter to the principles of evolution, and there cannot possibly be one shred of evidence to support the claim that the changes were not used for exactly the same purpose as today - namely to make intelligible sounds enabling communication.

However, I cannot see how the intelligence of our ancestors “is contrary to the theory of evolution”. Yes, it is contrary to stupid, knuckle-dragging monkey men, but the theory proposes a progression from not-so-bright monkey men to intelligent human men, and as regards HOW intelligent those early humans were, our only clue is whatever relics we find. (Note to David: as you well know, we will NEVER find relics relating to how they used their vocal apparatus for language.) The article suggests that just like the Neanderthals, the Denisovans were far more advanced than homo sapiens would like to think they were. That's it. Not that this somehow invalidates evolution.

David has asked how you explain the existence of the four groups if evolution did not happen. His own insistence that humans are “different in kind” from all other species begs the question of how he explains their existence if evolution did happen. This could be a very interesting discussion!

Evolution and humans

by David Turell @, Sunday, May 17, 2015, 19:52 (918 days ago) @ dhw


http://siberiantimes.com/science/casestudy/features/f0100-stone-bracelet-is-oldest-ever...

dhw: As for the idea that anatomical changes took place long before they were used, as if in preparation for later usage, it seems to me to run counter to the principles of evolution, and there cannot possibly be one shred of evidence to support the claim that the changes were not used for exactly the same purpose as today - namely to make intelligible sounds enabling communication.

I've stated over and over since questioned about it, McCrone describes his version of how E. erectus might have spoken, a few words at a time since control of air flow is required for modern speech. All I can say is read the book. It comes across as a scholarly tome. And How do we know how the principals of evolution really work, since there is such an upheaval in the area of epigenetics, and the newer complexities of the genome.?


dhw: However, I cannot see how the intelligence of our ancestors “is contrary to the theory of evolution”. ...The article suggests that just like the Neanderthals, the Denisovans were far more advanced than homo sapiens would like to think they were. That's it. Not that this somehow invalidates evolution.

It doesn't.


dhw: David has asked how you explain the existence of the four groups if evolution did not happen. His own insistence that humans are “different in kind” from all other species begs the question of how he explains their existence if evolution did happen. This could be a very interesting discussion!

It doesn't beg the question. I see it as several attempts, with one winning.

Evolution and humans

by Balance_Maintained @, U.S.A., Monday, May 18, 2015, 09:23 (918 days ago) @ David Turell
edited by Balance_Maintained, Monday, May 18, 2015, 09:33

I tried to post a response here yesterday, but it didn't go through and I didn't have time to repeat it. DHW asked how I would explain the 4 groups of hominids, and the truth is, do not, and don't need to, because human is human is human.

Now this would be the point where David would jump in and try to tell me how geneticially or physiologically different they are, and I would not disagree. Yet, when looked at closely, it is noted that the difference between the four groups is minor, and that the only genetic mapping they have done is on mtDNA which only trace the maternal side of the line. Physiologically, the other groups are within ranges of variance comparable to what we see in modern humans today. So, I don't explain the other groups because I do not view them as different evolutionary groups. A human is a human is a human, and a dog is a dog is a dog.

This is not to say that the groups didn't exist, but merely that do not view them any differently than I would a differing breeds of dogs. When you look at the difference between a Mastiff and a Chihuahua: morphologically different in the extreme, and they probably would have difficulty breeding due to size differences, but they are not really different species.

--
Without darkness there can be no light, no truth without lies.

Evolution and humans

by David Turell @, Monday, May 18, 2015, 15:17 (917 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained

Tony: So, I don't explain the other groups because I do not view them as different evolutionary groups. A human is a human is a human, and a dog is a dog is a dog.

This is not to say that the groups didn't exist, but merely that do not view them any differently than I would a differing breeds of dogs. When you look at the difference between a Mastiff and a Chihuahua: morphologically different in the extreme, and they probably would have difficulty breeding due to size differences, but they are not really different species.

A very reasonable answer. We know that cross-breeding occurred. But only one type of Homo survived. Are there reasons of superiority or just dumb luck? The best studied group the Neanderthals seemed to have just disappeared, or did competition from H. sapiens drive them away? All of them were far in advance from apes, as your Denisovans article indicates. I would conclude, with no absolute proof, we are here because of superiority.

Evolution and humans

by Balance_Maintained @, U.S.A., Monday, May 18, 2015, 16:36 (917 days ago) @ David Turell

David: A very reasonable answer. We know that cross-breeding occurred. But only one type of Homo survived. Are there reasons of superiority or just dumb luck? The best studied group the Neanderthals seemed to have just disappeared, or did competition from H. sapiens drive them away? All of them were far in advance from apes, as your Denisovans article indicates. I would conclude, with no absolute proof, we are here because of superiority.

Actually, I think it is probably more of a case of simple cultural assimilation. I'll give you two more recent examples. When Rome was building their empire, not only did they kill off most of the males, but they also bred most of the females of the nations they conquered. Of those that weren't spoils of war, many migrated into Roman culture because they perceived advantages over their current lifestyle. That is not to say that the lifestyle was superior, only that it was more attractive. The same happened in the U.S. with the huge influx of immigrants. Now, within only a few generations, much of the ancestory is so muddled as to be virtually indistiguishable. Today, we are seeing more interbreeding between races within the U.S., particularly between Black, White, and Hispanic. It is not inconceivable to think that if isolated, the population of these parent races would disappear in just a few generations as social and cultural barriers give way to new norms.

As for the seperation in gene diversity, see the first sentence about Rome, because this was typical of ancient warfare. Kill all men old enough to fight, breed/rape all the women. So right off the bat you would be cutting the gene dispersion potential for a group nearly in half. Within a few generations that group would be all but non-existent.

--
Without darkness there can be no light, no truth without lies.

Evolution and humans

by David Turell @, Monday, May 18, 2015, 17:55 (917 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained

David: I would conclude, with no absolute proof, we are here because of superiority.


Tony: Actually, I think it is probably more of a case of simple cultural assimilation. I'll give you two more recent examples. When Rome was building their empire, not only did they kill off most of the males, but they also bred most of the females of the nations they conquered..... Today, we are seeing more interbreeding between races within the U.S., particularly between Black, White, and Hispanic. It is not inconceivable to think that if isolated, the population of these parent races would disappear in just a few generations as social and cultural barriers give way to new norms.

As for the seperation in gene diversity, see the first sentence about Rome, because this was typical of ancient warfare. Kill all men old enough to fight, breed/rape all the women.... Within a few generations that group would be all but non-existent.

I think you are making my point. Rome was superior and desirable for many centuries. granted the Mongols took them out, but Homo sapiens were left as the only game in town with no one to take them out, unless we do it ourselves with the bomb.

Evolution and humans

by Balance_Maintained @, U.S.A., Monday, May 18, 2015, 18:30 (917 days ago) @ David Turell

David: I would conclude, with no absolute proof, we are here because of superiority.


David: I think you are making my point. Rome was superior and desirable for many centuries. granted the Mongols took them out, but Homo sapiens were left as the only game in town with no one to take them out, unless we do it ourselves with the bomb.

The reason that I fall short of calling Rome superior is perhaps because I have differing criteria as to what makes a group superior. Sure, Rome had technology and luxury, and those, as everyone knows, are always appealing. They also had slavery, constant warfare, extreme class divides, extreme poverty, and typically decimated the earth via their methods of construction and farming. I don't view this parasitic agrarian exploitive lifestyle as being intrinsically superior to a society that lives in harmony with their environment, has little to no class distinction, and minimal levels of violence (wars). If the only thing they were lacking was technology and bloodlust, I don't really think they were that inferior.

Of course, I know you probably mean 'superior' in evolutionary terms, but I find that thinking in those terms lends itself to a peculiar form of bias. The same form of bias that led the Europeans and early Americans to nearly wipe out the Indians and to view and treat them as 'savages'.

--
Without darkness there can be no light, no truth without lies.

Evolution and humans

by David Turell @, Monday, May 18, 2015, 18:49 (917 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained


tony: The reason that I fall short of calling Rome superior is perhaps because I have differing criteria as to what makes a group superior. ... If the only thing they were lacking was technology and bloodlust, I don't really think they were that inferior.

But at the time I am sure the conquered felt the Romans were superior, which differs from your viewpoint.


Tony: Of course, I know you probably mean 'superior' in evolutionary terms, but I find that thinking in those terms lends itself to a peculiar form of bias. The same form of bias that led the Europeans and early Americans to nearly wipe out the Indians and to view and treat them as 'savages'.

Here you are correct. I had to grow up to recognize that point of view.

Evolution and humans

by dhw, Monday, May 18, 2015, 22:54 (917 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained

dhw: As for the idea that anatomical changes took place long before they were used, as if in preparation for later usage, it seems to me to run counter to the principles of evolution, and there cannot possibly be one shred of evidence to support the claim that the changes were not used for exactly the same purpose as today - namely to make intelligible sounds enabling communication.
DAVID: I've stated over and over since questioned about it, McCrone describes his version of how E. erectus might have spoken, a few words at a time since control of air flow is required for modern speech. All I can say is read the book. It comes across as a scholarly tome.

I'm sure it's scholarly. So are books about the multiverse, string theory, and so on. But since you keep using “theoretical” and “might have” and “could have”, you know as well as I do that for all the scholarly evidence of anatomical changes, the conclusions are nothing but speculation.

DAVID: And How do we know how the principals of evolution really work, since there is such an upheaval in the area of epigenetics, and the newer complexities of the genome.?

We don't. That is why we present hypotheses, like Darwin's random mutations, or like your God preprogramming the very first cells with every innovation, or dabbling, or semi-dabbling, or like my autonomous inventive mechanism.

dhw: However, I cannot see how the intelligence of our ancestors “is contrary to the theory of evolution”. ...The article suggests that just like the Neanderthals, the Denisovans were far more advanced than homo sapiens would like to think they were. That's it. Not that this somehow invalidates evolution.
DAVID: It doesn't.

Sorry! That comment was meant for Tony, who seems to think it does, and I don't understand why.

dhw: David has asked how you explain the existence of the four groups if evolution did not happen. His own insistence that humans are “different in kind” from all other species begs the question of how he explains their existence if evolution did happen. This could be a very interesting discussion!

DAVID: It doesn't beg the question. I see it as several attempts, with one winning.

You keep stressing “difference in kind”, which means there cannot have been a natural progression from ape to human. This does not square with evolution. “Several attempts” is an interesting switch from your usual line of pre-programming and/or dabbling. So do you reckon your God preprogrammed Denisovans and Neanderthals to lose?

TONY: DHW asked how I would explain the 4 groups of hominids, and the truth is, do not, and don't need to, because human is human is human.

This is a misunderstanding. David asked you that. I see the four groups as a perfectly natural product of evolution from apes to humans. My question to you is why you think the advanced intelligence of these different groups is contrary to evolution.

Evolution and humans

by David Turell @, Tuesday, May 19, 2015, 01:05 (917 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: It doesn't beg the question. I see it as several attempts, with one winning.

dhw: You keep stressing “difference in kind”, which means there cannot have been a natural progression from ape to human. This does not square with evolution. “Several attempts” is an interesting switch from your usual line of pre-programming and/or dabbling. So do you reckon your God preprogrammed Denisovans and Neanderthals to lose?

Or to compete, and naturally sharpen the wits of the humans in the struggle. Really I have no idea.


TONY: DHW asked how I would explain the 4 groups of hominids, and the truth is, do not, and don't need to, because human is human is human.

This is a misunderstanding. David asked you that. I see the four groups as a perfectly natural product of evolution from apes to humans. My question to you is why you think the advanced intelligence of these different groups is contrary to evolution.

Evolution and humans

by dhw, Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 19:29 (915 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: You keep stressing “difference in kind”, which means there cannot have been a natural progression from ape to human.***** This does not square with evolution. “Several attempts” is an interesting switch from your usual line of pre-programming and/or dabbling. So do you reckon your God preprogrammed Denisovans and Neanderthals to lose?

*****This was badly phrased by me. I should have written “from apelike common ancestor to human”.

David: Or to compete, and naturally sharpen the wits of the humans in the struggle. Really I have no idea.

I would accept the fact that you have no idea if you were not so firm in your beliefs and so dead set against alternatives. You are always, and in my view quite rightly, ready to challenge these with rational arguments. You very effectively pick on the gaps. But when your own views are challenged, and you are questioned about the gaps - even within a theistic context - you have no idea, or you can't read God's mind. At the risk of trying your patience, let me ask the following, just for clarification:

1) You have stressed over and over again that humans are “different in kind” from all other organisms, including apes, so do you or do you not believe that humans and apes had a common ancestor (= evolution) or that God dabbled (= separate creation)?
2) Do you believe the other three groups were also “different in kind”?
3) You see the existence of four groups as “several attempts, with one winning.” I'm intrigued by “attempts”. Please explain: by whom and in order to do what?

Evolution and humans

by David Turell @, Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 20:09 (915 days ago) @ dhw
edited by David Turell, Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 20:43

dhw:But when your own views are challenged, and you are questioned about the gaps - even within a theistic context - you have no idea, or you can't read God's mind. At the risk of trying your patience, let me ask the following, just for clarification:

1) You have stressed over and over again that humans are “different in kind” from all other organisms, including apes, so do you or do you not believe that humans and apes had a common ancestor (= evolution) or that God dabbled (= separate creation)?
2) Do you believe the other three groups were also “different in kind”?
3) You see the existence of four groups as “several attempts, with one winning.” I'm intrigued by “attempts”. Please explain: by whom and in order to do what?

1) I still accept evolution guided by God. I think a common ancestor.

2) No, they didn't develop the powerful intellect we have.

3) Evolutionary attempts at advancement produced different types of Homo under God's guidance all probably branched from H. erectus. I don't know why, except sapiens were the target, and that was achieved.

Evolution and humans

by dhw, Friday, May 22, 2015, 08:20 (914 days ago) @ David Turell

Dhw: I would accept the fact that you have no idea if you were not so firm in your beliefs and so dead set against alternatives. You are always, and in my view quite rightly, ready to challenge these with rational arguments. You very effectively pick on the gaps. But when your own views are challenged, and you are questioned about the gaps - even within a theistic context - you have no idea, or you can't read God's mind. At the risk of trying your patience, let me ask the following, just for clarification:
1) You have stressed over and over again that humans are “different in kind” from all other organisms, including apes, so do you or do you not believe that humans and apes had a common ancestor (= evolution) or that God dabbled (= separate creation)?
2) Do you believe the other three groups were also “different in kind”?
3) You see the existence of four groups as “several attempts, with one winning.” I'm intrigued by “attempts”. Please explain: by whom and in order to do what?

DAVID: 1) I still accept evolution guided by God. I think a common ancestor.

Back to the slippery concept of “guided”. Either he intervened (special creation), or he didn't (evolution). I don't see how you can have both.

DAVID: 2) No, they didn't develop the powerful intellect we have.

Recent research suggests that they were far more sophisticated than had previously been believed, but 3) makes this response very confusing.

DAVID: 3) Evolutionary attempts at advancement produced different types of Homo under God's guidance all probably branched from H. Erectus. I don't see why, except sapiens were the target and that was achieved.

More slippery language. If God guided evolution, then these must have been God's attempts. So you seem to be saying that God's target was homo sapiens, and he tried different types of homo but you don't know why. That is what I mean when I say you are quick to seize rationally on gaps in alternative arguments, but reason goes out of the window when your own preconceptions are challenged. Here are three theistic alternatives: 1) God knew what he wanted, but couldn't work out how to do it; 2) God didn't know what he wanted, and made it up as he went along; 3) God left the inventive mechanism to do its own thing. (This would also explain the rest of the higgledy-piggledy process, including the weaverbird's nest.) Would you accept that all three hypotheses provide a rational explanation of the four groups?

Evolution and humans

by David Turell @, Friday, May 22, 2015, 18:35 (913 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: 2) No, they didn't develop the powerful intellect we have.

dhw: Recent research suggests that they were far more sophisticated than had previously been believed, but 3) makes this response very confusing.

Yes more sophisticated than we had previously thought, but they did not become as advanced as we did and we won the competition.


DAVID: 3) Evolutionary attempts at advancement produced different types of Homo under God's guidance all probably branched from H. Erectus. I don't see why, except sapiens were the target and that was achieved.

dhw: Here are three theistic alternatives: 1) God knew what he wanted, but couldn't work out how to do it; 2) God didn't know what he wanted, and made it up as he went along; 3) God left the inventive mechanism to do its own thing. (This would also explain the rest of the higgledy-piggledy process, including the weaverbird's nest.) Would you accept that all three hypotheses provide a rational explanation of the four groups?

You've left out a fourth possibility: God knew exactly what He wanted, but set up competition just to be sure He had the right formula for a human species survivorship of the type He preferred. I agree with you that your three are possible scenarios. I stick with my thesis that God worked through evolution (I don't know why) to achieve our species. Mine is a third way form of creationism, as I've said all along.

Evolution and humans

by Balance_Maintained @, U.S.A., Saturday, May 23, 2015, 11:57 (913 days ago) @ David Turell


DAVID: 2) No, they didn't develop the powerful intellect we have.

dhw: Recent research suggests that they were far more sophisticated than had previously been believed, but 3) makes this response very confusing.


David: Yes more sophisticated than we had previously thought, but they did not become as advanced as we did and we won the competition.

Would you make the same claim if discussing the Native Americans vs. Europeans? Or Africans vs. Europeans? Were they more or less sophisticated than Europeans? Were they more or less 'fit'? You are treading dangerously close to eugenics here in your mode of thinking. Worse, you seem to be confusing technological/numerical advantage with being more 'advanced' in biological terms.

By your reckoning, we should all be Mongolian, since they must have been more advanced than the Romans they conquored, right?

--
Without darkness there can be no light, no truth without lies.

Evolution and humans

by David Turell @, Saturday, May 23, 2015, 14:55 (912 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained


Tony: Would you make the same claim if discussing the Native Americans vs. Europeans? Or Africans vs. Europeans? Were they more or less sophisticated than Europeans? Were they more or less 'fit'? You are treading dangerously close to eugenics here in your mode of thinking. Worse, you seem to be confusing technological/numerical advantage with being more 'advanced' in biological terms.

By your reckoning, we should all be Mongolian, since they must have been more advanced than the Romans they conquored, right?

But you are admonishing me with all groups that are Homo sapiens. All of us won; it is the other Homo groups that were not as competent. Somehow or other we were better. Or do you think we were luckier?

As for Eugenics, the current evidence points to taking Darwin's thinking too far, with horrible results.

Evolution and humans

by Balance_Maintained @, U.S.A., Saturday, May 23, 2015, 17:58 (912 days ago) @ David Turell


Tony:
By your reckoning, we should all be Mongolian, since they must have been more advanced than the Romans they conquored, right?


David: But you are admonishing me with all groups that are Homo sapiens. All of us won; it is the other Homo groups that were not as competent. Somehow or other we were better. Or do you think we were luckier?

As for Eugenics, the current evidence points to taking Darwin's thinking too far, with horrible results.

65 years ago we thought the "races" were genetically different, perhaps even different species with varying degrees of fitness (until the 1950's). Now we know that there are more differences between members of the same race than there are between the races. Today, we think that Neandertals and other hominids were different species, even though the are drastically closer to us genetically then our supposed closest surviving kin(chimps). How long do you think it will be until we discover we've been wrong about that, too? And to answer the question directly, I do not think that we were better OR luckier. I don't even think we are fundamentally different in kind, anymore than I think asians or africans are fundamentally different than caucasions.

As for eugenics, I concur. But we failed to learn from our earlier mistake. We failed to see what such thinking leads too in the hands of the power hungry. We based those classifications on remarkably incomplete data because it fit a then-popular ideology. (One which was political in nature more than scientific) Today, I think we are in the same trap. Making decisions on remarkably small amounts of data which we barely understand in order to fit two popular ideologies; one scientific and both political. Scientifically, there is the dedication to darwinism, a religion that tries to kill gods in favor of random chance.

Politically, there is an underlying push for control; control of the education system and control of the population via the educational system. There is also a politcal turn against religion in general that is brewing, fueled by terrorism propaganda and the stereotyping of both Christian and Muslim followers. It is turning into a three way fight that can only have one end. The government controls money, policy, and military force, which means it will be a bad time to be religious when the politicians make their move, and evolutionist/atheism will be there backing them up.

How long until we start seeing things about religious people, or people of a certain demographic/ethnicity being genetically inferior again?

http://www.barenakedislam.com/2010/08/23/uk-muslims-keep-marrying-first-cousins-despite...
http://www.islam-watch.org/home/73-brahmachari/983-inbreeding-and-resulting-genetic-dis...
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/13/world/europe/13sarrazin.html?_r=0
http://www.growtheheckup.com/2010/04/harvard-student-says-blacks-genetically.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/victor-stenger/religion-and-science-_b_2719280.html


Oh wait, that's right. We are already seeing these things happen again. It always starts small.

--
Without darkness there can be no light, no truth without lies.

Evolution and humans

by David Turell @, Saturday, May 23, 2015, 18:46 (912 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained


David: But you are admonishing me with all groups that are Homo sapiens. All of us won; it is the other Homo groups that were not as competent. Somehow or other we were better. Or do you think we were luckier?

Tony: I do not think that we were better OR luckier. I don't even think we are fundamentally different in kind, anymore than I think asians or africans are fundamentally different than caucasions.

Within our species, I agree.


Tony: How long until we start seeing things about religious people, or people of a certain demographic/ethnicity being genetically inferior again?

http://www.barenakedislam.com/2010/08/23/uk-muslims-keep-marrying-first-cousins-despite...
http://www.islam-watch.org/home/73-brahmachari/983-inbreeding-and-resulting-genetic-dis...
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/13/world/europe/13sarrazin.html?_r=0
http://www.growtheheckup.com/2010/04/harvard-student-says-blacks-genetically.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/victor-stenger/religion-and-science-_b_2719280.html


Oh wait, that's right. We are already seeing these things happen again. It always starts small.

I looked through your reference sites. I never could stand Stenger and his downright hostility. I don't understand your apparent approach to Muslims and first cousin marriages. There is a danger in recessive genes popping up with too much close breeding. Don't you want them discouraged? Rabbi Daniel Lapin in his book, America's Real War, 1999, warned sharply in just the way you are of the current attacks on religion, Judaism, yes, but especially Christianity.

Evolution and humans

by Balance_Maintained @, U.S.A., Sunday, May 24, 2015, 08:34 (912 days ago) @ David Turell


Tony: How long until we start seeing things about religious people, or people of a certain demographic/ethnicity being genetically inferior again?

http://www.barenakedislam.com/2010/08/23/uk-muslims-keep-marrying-first-cousins-despite...
http://www.islam-watch.org/home/73-brahmachari/983-inbreeding-and-resulting-genetic-dis...
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/13/world/europe/13sarrazin.html?_r=0
http://www.growtheheckup.com/2010/04/harvard-student-says-blacks-genetically.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/victor-stenger/religion-and-science-_b_2719280.html


Oh wait, that's right. We are already seeing these things happen again. It always starts small.


David: I looked through your reference sites. I never could stand Stenger and his downright hostility. I don't understand your apparent approach to Muslims and first cousin marriages. There is a danger in recessive genes popping up with too much close breeding. Don't you want them discouraged? Rabbi Daniel Lapin in his book, America's Real War, 1999, warned sharply in just the way you are of the current attacks on religion, Judaism, yes, but especially Christianity.

It is not "my apparent approach". I don't have an approach to Muslims. Most of the ones I met are genuinely good people. As for their breeding habits, sure, I wouldn't encourage imbreeding, but I am not going to stereotype 23% of the earth's population based on the actions of a few. Just like I won't stereotype their religion based on the actions of a few extremist. My point was how easy and common it is becoming to use genetics to discriminate. All blacks are.... All Muslims are... All Christians are... All Jews are... its sickening, but it will only get worse.

--
Without darkness there can be no light, no truth without lies.

Evolution and humans

by David Turell @, Sunday, May 24, 2015, 15:15 (911 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained

tony: I wouldn't encourage imbreeding, but I am not going to stereotype 23% of the earth's population based on the actions of a few. Just like I won't stereotype their religion based on the actions of a few extremist. My point was how easy and common it is becoming to use genetics to discriminate. All blacks are.... All Muslims are... All Christians are... All Jews are... its sickening, but it will only get worse.

In the Muslim issue, it is a religious concept from ancient times that is misused, not genetics. We are all the same humans in each group, but it is some ideas that become dangerous to others. If only everyone were fully rational.

Evolution and humans

by dhw, Sunday, May 24, 2015, 17:24 (911 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Evolutionary attempts at advancement produced different types of Homo under God's guidance all probably branched from H. Erectus. I don't see why, except sapiens were the target and that was achieved.
dhw: Here are three theistic alternatives: 1) God knew what he wanted, but couldn't work out how to do it; 2) God didn't know what he wanted, and made it up as he went along; 3) God left the inventive mechanism to do its own thing. (This would also explain the rest of the higgledy-piggledy process, including the weaverbird's nest.) Would you accept that all three hypotheses provide a rational explanation of the four groups?

DAVID: You've left out a fourth possibility: God knew exactly what He wanted, but set up competition just to be sure He had the right formula for a human species survivorship of the type He preferred. I agree with you that your three are possible scenarios. I stick with my thesis that God worked through evolution (I don't know why) to achieve our species. Mine is a third way form of creationism, as I've said all along.

Your 4) is the same as my 1), except that you're substituting the uncertainty of “just to be sure” for the uncertainty of “couldn't work out”.

With my theist hat on, I can accept the possibility of God dabbling for particular purposes, but find it impossible to reconcile dabbling and/or preprogramming with the countless innovations and organisms apparently irrelevant to the production of humans if humans were his goal. “Worked through evolution (I don't know why)” is nice and honest, but in turn I don't know why you refuse to question a hypothesis that clearly makes no sense to either of us.

Evolution and humans

by Balance_Maintained @, U.S.A., Sunday, May 24, 2015, 18:08 (911 days ago) @ dhw

DHW: With my theist hat on, I can accept the possibility of God dabbling for particular purposes, but find it impossible to reconcile dabbling and/or preprogramming with the countless innovations and organisms apparently irrelevant to the production of humans if humans were his goal.Worked through evolution (I don't know why)” is nice and honest, but in turn I don't know why you refuse to question a hypothesis that clearly makes no sense to either of us.

Because you are thinking of only one item in a system. A system is not comprised of one entity. It is comprised of multiple entities that may work in a cooperative or antagonistic manner in order to achieve homeostasis within the system, or in order to progress a system in the desired direction.

Also, I personally have an issue with humans being the 'end goal' of the design. I think they are an integral part of the design, and I think they were designed to serve a specific purpose within the system. I do not think they were to be the end goal.

So, since you see so many innovations that are 'irrelevant', could you point some of them out?

--
Without darkness there can be no light, no truth without lies.

Evolution and humans

by David Turell @, Sunday, May 24, 2015, 19:08 (911 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained


Tony:Also, I personally have an issue with humans being the 'end goal' of the design. I think they are an integral part of the design, and I think they were designed to serve a specific purpose within the system. I do not think they were to be the end goal.

Do you think there is an 'end goal' and if so, What is it?

Evolution and humans

by Balance_Maintained @, U.S.A., Sunday, May 24, 2015, 19:50 (911 days ago) @ David Turell


Tony:Also, I personally have an issue with humans being the 'end goal' of the design. I think they are an integral part of the design, and I think they were designed to serve a specific purpose within the system. I do not think they were to be the end goal.


David: Do you think there is an 'end goal' and if so, What is it?

This is one of those areas that I happily say, "I don't know." I do believe there is a larger purpose. Something bigger than earth, bigger than humans, but intimately connected to life in general.

One of the very interesting points about the bible is what is NOT said as much as what is said. Genesis doesn't say "And God completed his work." It says he took a day of 'rest'. Several points in the bible indicate that the creative work will pick up where he left off, as if uninterrupted, but there are no explicit details. (IT is also interesting that God wanted/needed to 'take a day of rest') Was that for his benefit, or ours?

--
Without darkness there can be no light, no truth without lies.

Evolution and humans

by David Turell @, Sunday, May 24, 2015, 20:08 (911 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained


Tony: One of the very interesting points about the bible is what is NOT said as much as what is said. Genesis doesn't say "And God completed his work." It says he took a day of 'rest'. Several points in the bible indicate that the creative work will pick up where he left off, as if uninterrupted, but there are no explicit details. (IT is also interesting that God wanted/needed to 'take a day of rest') Was that for his benefit, or ours?

Good question. Perhaps our benefit, 'all work and no play' etc.

Evolution and humans; scapula and shoulder shapes

by David Turell @, Tuesday, September 08, 2015, 20:09 (804 days ago) @ David Turell

Still trying to decide on the last common ape/human ancestor, the shoulder anatomy gives clues:

http://phys.org/news/2015-09-shouldering-burden-evolution.html

"'Humans are unique in many ways. We have features that clearly link us with African apes, but we also have features that appear more primitive, leading to uncertainty about what our common ancestor looked like," said Nathan Young, PhD, assistant professor at UC San Francisco School of Medicine and lead author of the study. "Our study suggests that the simplest explanation, that the ancestor looked a lot like a chimp or gorilla, is the right one, at least in the shoulder."

"It appears, he said, that shoulder shape tracks changes in early human behavior such as reduced climbing and increased tool use. The paper, titled 'Fossil Hominin Shoulders Support an African Ape-like Last Common Ancestor of Chimpanzees and Humans,' published online Sept. 6, in the journal PNAS.

"The shoulders of African apes consist of a trowel-shaped blade and a handle-like spine that points the joint with the arm up toward the skull, giving an advantage to the arms when climbing or swinging through the branches. In contrast, the scapular spine of monkeys is pointed more downwards. In humans this trait is even more pronounced, indicating behaviors such as stone tool making and high-speed throwing. The prevailing question was whether humans evolved this configuration from a more primitive ape, or from a modern African ape-like creature, but later reverted back to the downward angle.

***

"The results showed that australopiths were intermediate between African apes and humans: the A. afarensis shoulder was more like an African ape than a human, and A. sediba closer to human's than to an ape's. This positioning is consistent with evidence for increasingly sophisticated tool use in Australopithecus.

"'The mix of ape and human features observed in A. afarensis' shoulder support the notion that, while bipedal, the species engaged in tree climbing and wielded stone tools. This is a primate clearly on its way to becoming human," Alemseged said.

"These shifts in the shoulder also enabled the evolution of another critical behavior - human's ability to throw objects with speed and accuracy, said Neil T. Roach, PhD, a fellow of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University. A laterally facing shoulder blade allows humans to store energy in their shoulders, much like a slingshot, facilitating high-speed throwing, an important and uniquely human behavior.

"'These changes in the shoulder, which were probably initially driven by the use of tools well back into human evolution, also made us great throwers," Roach said. "Our unique throwing ability likely helped our ancestors hunt and protect themselves, turning our species into the most dominant predators on earth.'"

Comment: this represents an enormous anatomical change in one joint, allowed because humans are not knuckle draggers.

Evolution and humans; scapula and shoulder shapes

by dhw, Wednesday, September 09, 2015, 13:22 (804 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Still trying to decide on the last common ape/human ancestor, the shoulder anatomy gives clues:

http://phys.org/news/2015-09-shouldering-burden-evolution.html

QUOTE: "The results showed that australopiths were intermediate between African apes and humans: the A. afarensis shoulder was more like an African ape than a human, and A. sediba closer to human's than to an ape's. This positioning is consistent with evidence for increasingly sophisticated tool use in Australopithecus.
"'The mix of ape and human features observed in A. afarensis' shoulder support the notion that, while bipedal, the species engaged in tree climbing and wielded stone tools. This is a primate clearly on its way to becoming human," Alemseged said."

I don't know if Tony is still logging on, but it was always the australopiths that I tried to draw attention to during our discussions: the creatures that are not recognizably ape or human. I think they are important evidence for evolution as opposed to separate creation.

Evolution and humans; a new hominin

by David Turell @, Thursday, September 10, 2015, 13:37 (803 days ago) @ dhw
edited by David Turell, Thursday, September 10, 2015, 14:33

About 15 found in a cave in southern Africa:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/fossils-found-in-african-cave-ar...

"H. naledi is an unusual combination of the primitive and the modern, the scientists said. Its brain was no larger than a baseball; its shoulders and torso primitive; its fingers long and curved, allowing H. naledi to climb and swing from the trees. At the same time, H. naledi 's wrist bones indicated that it used tools. Its long legs and feet, nearly indistinguishable from those of modern man, allowed it not only to walk upright but also to travel for many miles at a time.

“'One of the most exciting things for us is we discovered something new in biology. We had never seen a creature like this before,” said John Hawks, an anthropologist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the lead scientist in the analysis, which included experts in primitive feet, teeth, hands and skulls. “H. naledi is unlike anything in our genus. .?.?. When you look at the anatomical elements across the body, it's an enormous assemblage of fossils. The task was to interpret these fossils and put them in the context of evolution and where they fit on the human tree.'”

***

"The age of the fossils will be difficult to determine, Berger says, because they were not fused into rock, which can be dated, and the researchers wanted to wait to do radiocarbon dating until they knew more about what they had. What he did say, with confidence, was that H. naledi “comes near or at the root of the genus Homo,” in excess of 2.5 million years ago."

Comment: Radiocarbon?

Another version of the story:

http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/43960/title/New-Homo-Species-Found/

"Hawks and his colleagues describe the shoulders, chest, and pelvis of H. naledi as primitive in morphology, similar to Australopithecus and other early hominin species that existed up to 4 million years ago. H. naledi's cranial capacity is between 465 and 560 cubic centimeters, roughly a third of the brain size of modern humans and the smallest in the genus, the researchers wrote.

"However, other features of this new species appear more modern. H. naledi is similar in overall size and weight to small-bodied H. sapiens. Study coauthor Lee Berger of University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, told The Scientist: “the feet are practically indistinguishable from modern humans. This is a walker.'”

DAVID: [i]About 15 found Evolution and humans; a new hominin

by dhw, Sunday, September 13, 2015, 08:04 (800 days ago) @ David Turell
edited by dhw, Sunday, September 13, 2015, 08:50

DAVID: About 15 found in a cave in southern Africa:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/fossils-found-in-african-cave-ar...

There seems to be a never ending stream of sensational new discoveries that will revolutionize our thinking about the universe and evolution. This one even made it into the national news over here. The articles David has posted and press and TV features also mention the theory that these hominids buried their dead - which would revolutionize all our concepts of these early forms of human: tools and rituals being used perhaps 4 million years ago. However, there are problems with dating, and already there are murmurings that these fossils are not quite as unique as the researchers claim. William Jungers, a New York anthropologist, thinks they might be earlier versions of homo erectus, and Tim White, a paleoanthropologist from Berkeley is pretty sure that's what they are, while Christoph Zollikofer, an anthropologist from Zurich, thinks the few "unique" features could just be local variations. He and Jungers are very sceptical about the burial theory, and say there are plenty of other possible explanations. There is also a "reconstruction", showing a face that is a remarkable mixture of human and ape and a great tribute to someone's imagination.

However, for all the hype and sensational speculation, all these hominid fossils seem to me to lend more and more credence to Darwin's theory that humans and apes evolved from common ancestry.

DAVID: [i]About 15 found Evolution and humans; a new hominin

by David Turell @, Monday, September 14, 2015, 01:10 (799 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: However, for all the hype and sensational speculation, all these hominid fossils seem to me to lend more and more credence to Darwin's theory that humans and apes evolved from common ancestry.

I have to agree.

DAVID: [i]About 15 found Evolution and humans; a new hominin

by David Turell @, Wednesday, October 07, 2015, 18:04 (775 days ago) @ David Turell

More on H. naledi. Walking possibilities:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/extinct-tree-climbing-human-walked-with-a-swa...

Scientists investigated the hands and feet of H. naledi to learn more about a key shift in human evolution—the move from a life of climbing trees to one spent walking on the ground. Modern humans dominate the planet partly because walking upright frees their hands for tool use, scientists have found.

"The researchers analyzed more than 150 H. naledi hand bones, including a nearly complete adult right hand that was missing just one wrist bone. They found the species shared a long, robust thumb and wrist architecture with modern humans and Neanderthals, potentially giving the hand a precise, forceful grip that may have been useful for tool use.

"However, its fingers were longer and more curved than most australopithecines—indeed, more curved than those of nearly any other species of early hominin. This quality hints at a life suited for moving and climbing through trees. The scientists detailed their findings on H. naledi's hands and feet online today (Oct. 6) in two papers in the journal Nature Communications.

“'The tool-using features of the H. naledi hand, in combination with its small brain size, has interesting implications for what cognitive requirements might be needed to make and use tools, and, depending on the age of these fossils, who might have made the stone tools that we find in South Africa,” Tracy Kivell at the University of Kent in England, lead author of one of the two H. naledi papers, said in a statement.

"The scientists also investigated 107 H. naledi foot bones, including a nearly complete adult right foot. They found the ancient hominin's foot shared many features with the modern human foot, suggesting that it was well-suited for standing and walking on two feet."

Comment: Human evolution is from a bush of attempts.

Evolution and human: changes in europe with farming

by David Turell @, Saturday, November 28, 2015, 21:55 (723 days ago) @ David Turell

Apparently folks from Turkey migrated into Europe and introduced farming. There were then modifications to the existing population, perhaps epigenetic which became fixed:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151123202631.htm

"By taking advantage of better DNA extraction techniques and amassing what is to date the largest collection of genome-wide datasets from ancient human remains, the team was able to identify specific genes that changed during and after the transition from hunting and gathering to farming.

"Many of the variants occurred on or near genes that have been associated with height, the ability to digest lactose in adulthood, fatty acid metabolism, vitamin D levels, light skin pigmentation and blue eye color. Two variants appear on genes that have been linked to higher risk of celiac disease but that may have been important in adapting to an early agricultural diet.

"Other variants were located on immune-associated genes, which made sense because "the Neolithic period involved an increase in population density, with people living close to one another and to domesticated animals," said Wolfgang Haak."

Comment: Still the same species with reasonable modifications when lifestyle changed to farming from hunter-gatherer pursuits.

Evolution and human: having proper feet

by David Turell @, Wednesday, January 20, 2016, 14:24 (670 days ago) @ David Turell

Upright walking which only we do requires a specialized foot with the big toe properly aligned. A change in gene expression provided for them:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160107140413.htm

"It's somewhat unusual to have a research project that spans from fish all the way to humans, but it's clear that tweaking the expression levels of molecules called bone morphogenetic proteins can result in significant changes not just in the skeletal armor of the stickleback, but also in the hind-limb development of humans and primates," said David Kingsley, PhD, professor of developmental biology at Stanford. "This change is likely part of the reason why we've evolved from having a grasping hind foot like a chimp to a weight-bearing structure that allows us to walk on two legs."

***

"The researchers identified the area of the genome responsible for controlling armor plate size, and then looked for differences there in 11 pairs of marine and freshwater fish with varying armor-plate sizes. They homed in on a region that includes the gene for a bone morphogenetic protein family member called GDF6. Due to changes in the regulatory DNA sequence near this gene, freshwater sticklebacks express higher levels of GDF6, while their saltwater cousins express less. Strikingly, marine fish genetically engineered to contain the regulatory sequence of freshwater fish expressed higher levels of GDF6 and developed smaller armor plates, the researchers found.

***

"They began by working with colleagues in the laboratory of Gill Bejerano, PhD, Stanford associate professor of developmental biology, of computer science and of pediatrics, to compare differences in the genomes of chimps and humans. In previous surveys, they found over 500 places in which humans have lost regulatory regions that are conserved from chimps and many other mammals. Two of these occur near the GDF6 gene. They homed in on one in particular.

"'This regulatory information was shared through about 100 million years of evolution," said Kingsley. "And yet, surprisingly, this region is missing in humans."

***

"The fact that humans are missing the hind-limb-regulatory region probably means that we express less of the gene in our legs and feet during development, but comparable amounts in our nascent arms, hands and skulls. Loss of this particular regulatory sequence would also shorten lateral toes but not the first toe of feet. This may help explain why the big toe is aligned with other short, lateral toes in humans. Such a modification would create a more sturdy foot with which to walk upright.

"'These bone morphogenetic proteins are strong signals for bone and cartilage growth in all types of animals," said Kingsley.

"'You can evolve new skeletal structures by changing where and when the signals are expressed, and it's very satisfying to see similar regulatory principles in action whether you are changing the armor of a stickleback, or changing specific hind-limb structures during human evolution.'"

Comment: Chance or advanced planning? If God guided evolution this shows how He might have engineered it.

Evolution and human: having proper feet

by dhw, Thursday, January 21, 2016, 18:22 (669 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Upright walking which only we do requires a specialized foot with the big toe properly aligned. A change in gene expression provided for them:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160107140413.htm

QUOTE: 'You can evolve new skeletal structures by changing where and when the signals are expressed, and it's very satisfying to see similar regulatory principles in action whether you are changing the armor of a stickleback, or changing specific hind-limb structures during human evolution.'"

David's comment: Chance or advanced planning? If God guided evolution this shows how He might have engineered it.

It also shows how the cell communities that comprise every organism “might have engineered it”. Not advance planning, but improvement as they cooperate in response to environmental conditions: “And they did it by studying a tiny fish called the threespine stickleback that has evolved radically different skeletal structures to match environments around the world.” (My bold) Are you now telling us that God preprogrammed or personally supervised all the stickleback's variations?

Evolution and human: having proper feet

by David Turell @, Thursday, January 21, 2016, 19:58 (669 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: It also shows how the cell communities that comprise every organism “might have engineered it”. Not advance planning, but improvement as they cooperate in response to environmental conditions: “And they did it by studying a tiny fish called the threespine stickleback that has evolved radically different skeletal structures to match environments around the world.” (My bold) Are you now telling us that God preprogrammed or personally supervised all the stickleback's variations?

He could have, or just the one needed for our upright posture.

Evolution and human: having proper feet

by dhw, Friday, January 22, 2016, 18:21 (668 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: It also shows how the cell communities that comprise every organism “might have engineered it”. Not advance planning, but improvement as they cooperate in response to environmental conditions: “And they did it by studying a tiny fish called the threespine stickleback that has evolved radically different skeletal structures to match environments around the world.” (My bold) Are you now telling us that God preprogrammed or personally supervised all the stickleback's variations?

DAVID: He could have, or just the one needed for our upright posture.

Good. So you agree that it is possible for other organisms to engineer their own mutations. We are making progress!

Evolution and human: having proper feet

by David Turell @, Monday, January 25, 2016, 01:48 (666 days ago) @ dhw

[/i]
DAVID: He could have, or just the one needed for our upright posture.

dhw: Good. So you agree that it is possible for other organisms to engineer their own mutations. We are making progress!

We don't know how far epigenetic changes can/will make new species, since we don't know how new species are created. We've had this discussion before about inventive mechanisms, with no conclusion except there might exist like it.

Evolution and human: having proper feet

by dhw, Monday, January 25, 2016, 22:02 (665 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: He could have, or just the one needed for our upright posture.

dhw: Good. So you agree that it is possible for other organisms to engineer their own mutations. We are making progress!

DAVID: We don't know how far epigenetic changes can/will make new species, since we don't know how new species are created. We've had this discussion before about inventive mechanisms, with no conclusion except there might exist like it.

That is what I call progress. I have fought long and hard for the concession that this hypothesis is possible! Since none of the facts are known, only the faithful can draw clear conclusions.

Evolution and human: having proper feet

by David Turell @, Tuesday, January 26, 2016, 01:30 (665 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: We don't know how far epigenetic changes can/will make new species, since we don't know how new species are created. We've had this discussion before about inventive mechanisms, with no conclusion except there might exist like it.

dhw: That is what I call progress. I have fought long and hard for the concession that this hypothesis is possible! Since none of the facts are known, only the faithful can draw clear conclusions.

I don't view it as progress, because we had a long discussion in which both of us discussed the possibility. Certainly a possibility as we keep opening up layers of DNA control and expression, there might be a speciation layer pre-programmed to allow for giant leaps in phenotypes.

Evolution and human: having proper feet

by dhw, Tuesday, January 26, 2016, 18:28 (664 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: So you agree that it is possible for other organisms to engineer their own mutations. We are making progress!
DAVID: We don't know how far epigenetic changes can/will make new species, since we don't know how new species are created. We've had this discussion before about inventive mechanisms, with no conclusion except there might exist like it.
dhw: That is what I call progress. I have fought long and hard for the concession that this hypothesis is possible! Since none of the facts are known, only the faithful can draw clear conclusions.

DAVID: I don't view it as progress, because we had a long discussion in which both of us discussed the possibility. Certainly a possibility as we keep opening up layers of DNA control and expression, there might be a speciation layer pre-programmed to allow for giant leaps in phenotypes.

Not for the first time, I am very uncertain about your use of language. A “speciation layer preprogrammed for giant leaps in phenotypes” does not sound quite the same as my hypothesis. The lead-in to these comments was as follows:
YOU: Chance or advanced planning? If God guided evolution this shows how He might have engineered it.
ME: It also shows how the cell communities that comprise every organism “might have engineered it”. Not advance planning, but improvement as they cooperate in response to environmental conditions....

So once more, let us clarify. Your hypothesis is giant leaps preprogrammed by your God; my hypothesis is giant leaps engineered by the autonomous inventive intelligence of the organisms themselves. The “compromise” is that this autonomous intelligence may have been invented by your God, which is far, far away from your God preprogramming a layer of DNA with the giant leaps! I remain hopeful that you are indeed prepared to accept the possibility of my hypothesis as phrased by me.

Evolution and human: having proper feet

by David Turell @, Wednesday, January 27, 2016, 00:41 (664 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: Not for the first time, I am very uncertain about your use of language. A “speciation layer preprogrammed for giant leaps in phenotypes” does not sound quite the same as my hypothesis. The lead-in to these comments was as follows:
YOU: Chance or advanced planning? If God guided evolution this shows how He might have engineered it.
ME: It also shows how the cell communities that comprise every organism “might have engineered it”. Not advance planning, but improvement as they cooperate in response to environmental conditions....

So once more, let us clarify. Your hypothesis is giant leaps preprogrammed by your God; my hypothesis is giant leaps engineered by the autonomous inventive intelligence of the organisms themselves. The “compromise” is that this autonomous intelligence may have been invented by your God, which is far, far away from your God preprogramming a layer of DNA with the giant leaps! I remain hopeful that you are indeed prepared to accept the possibility of my hypothesis as phrased by me.

No. It is a matter of the size of the 'leap'. I can certainly accept an inventive mechanism at the level of epigenetic variations within a species, but speciation itself with a major variation in phenotype, as I pointed out, I feel is beyond an IM unless that IM is a so-far undiscovered God-given complex layer which controls the giant leap to a new species. I view your proposal as equivalent to the current known abilities of organisms through epigenetics. That method is advancement through small modifications and trial and error stages. The fossil record is not equated with that.

Evolution and human: having proper feet

by dhw, Wednesday, January 27, 2016, 18:31 (663 days ago) @ David Turell

Dhw: So once more, let us clarify. Your hypothesis is giant leaps preprogrammed by your God; my hypothesis is giant leaps engineered by the autonomous inventive intelligence of the organisms themselves. The “compromise” is that this autonomous intelligence may have been invented by your God, which is far, far away from your God preprogramming a layer of DNA with the giant leaps! I remain hopeful that you are indeed prepared to accept the possibility of my hypothesis as phrased by me.

DAVID: No. It is a matter of the size of the 'leap'. I can certainly accept an inventive mechanism at the level of epigenetic variations within a species, but speciation itself with a major variation in phenotype, as I pointed out, I feel is beyond an IM unless that IM is a so-far undiscovered God-given complex layer which controls the giant leap to a new species. I view your proposal as equivalent to the current known abilities of organisms through epigenetics. That method is advancement through small modifications and trial and error stages. The fossil record is not equated with that.

We both know that NOBODY understands what mechanism caused the giant leaps. And we both know that small modifications are possible, and that the mechanism for those is contained within individual organisms. You claim that your God preprogrammed (or personally directed) not only the major leaps but also the lifestyles and natural wonders such as the weaverbird's nest. I understand that you “feel” these developments are beyond the inventive intelligence of individual organisms, because - just as with your own hypothesis - there is no evidence. I repeat: NOBODY knows the mechanism. I am therefore not asking you to believe it, but simply to acknowledge that it is a possible alternative to your own hypothesis, i.e. that “the so-far undiscovered,[possibly] God-given complex layer which controls the giant leap to a new species” will turn out to be the autonomous , inventive intelligence of the organisms themselves.

xxxxx

Under "Dad's epigenetic contributions" you repeat yet again that current research only shows "minor adaptations, nothing that supports a road to speciation." Of course that's what it shows! If it explained innovations, we wouldn't be having this discussion. Does current research support the hypothesis that God preprogrammed the first cells with every single large leap and weird lifestyle and natural wonder? That's why I keep emphasizing that NOBODY knows, and all we have at the moment are hypotheses. And I'm afraid you and I are unlikely to see the day when there is anything more than that!

Evolution and humans; scapula and shoulder shapes

by David Turell @, Thursday, September 17, 2015, 14:22 (796 days ago) @ David Turell

Another review of the same study. Our shoulder is more monkey-like, but over all we look more like apes. Chicken and egg problem if one thinks this all happened by chance. We are not monkey 'this' and ape 'that'. Problem solved if we were specially designed and split off as a special branch:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150908101236.htm

"The researchers tested these competing theories by comparing 3-D measurements of fossil shoulder blades of early hominins and modern humans against African apes, orangutan, gibbons and large, tree-dwelling monkeys. They found that the modern human's shoulder shape is unique in that it shares the lateral orientation with orangutans and the scapular blade shape with African apes; a primate in the middle.

"'Human shoulder blades are odd, separated from all the apes. Primitive in some ways, derived in other ways, and different from all of them," Young said. "How did the human lineage evolve and where did the common ancestor to modern humans evolve a shoulder like ours?'"

***

"'The mix of ape and human features observed in A. afarensis' shoulder support the notion that, while bipedal, the species engaged in tree climbing and wielded stone tools. This is a primate clearly on its way to becoming human," Alemseged said."

Evolution and humans; review of fossil interpretation

by David Turell @, Saturday, September 19, 2015, 14:11 (794 days ago) @ David Turell

A long review of all the controversy in trying to interpret the fossil record leading to H. sapiens:

http://arstechnica.com/science/2015/09/humans-arent-so-special-after-all-the-fuzzy-evol...

Conclusion of the article:

"As each new discovery turns up, it becomes more abundantly clear that the history of our species has not been simple. The evolution of humans and human-like forms has been “a series of experiments in how to be human running in parallel,” said Stringer. Most of them failed. Only one led to Homo erectus, the likely ancestor of Neanderthals and our own species.

"The emerging picture shows “the fuzziness of defining what is human,” said Stringer. “Are we defining them by toolmaking, small jaws and teeth, bipedalism, larger brains?” The fuzzy beginnings of the genus Homo make it clear that defining the difference between us and our closest relatives is a complex problem: we share our bipedalism, our abstract thought, and possibly even our capacity for toolmaking with other species, and it's not even all that clear where the boundaries of fossil species lie.

“'The calendar of events that only the fossil and archaeological records can provide presents a more complicated story than the Darwinian one,” said Kimbel. “It means that the pattern of acquisition of unique human characteristics was a more complicated affair. And it's all the more fascinating and important for that.'”

Evolution and humans; hominin hearing

by David Turell @, Tuesday, September 29, 2015, 13:49 (784 days ago) @ David Turell

Guessing at hearing range with hominin fossils it seems their hearing was between human and chimp, what one would expect:

http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/44119/title/Early-Hominin-Hearing/

"Quam and an international team of researchers studied the anatomy of the ear in three complete fossilized specimens, as well as several partial specimens, from South Africa. The team reconstructed the size and relative proportions of up to six different structures—such as the stapes, a middle ear bone—using 3-D CT scans. The researchers then used a published model to predict how the early hominins may have heard, based on these measurements.

"Both species of early hominin evolved an anatomy that allowed them to hear sounds at slightly higher frequencies than chimpanzees, best in the 1.0 kHz to 3.5 kHz range. In comparison, chimpanzees can hear sounds best between 1.0 kHz and 3.0 kHz. Humans can typically hear sounds best between 1.0 kHz and 4.5 kHz; this range encompasses most sounds formed in spoken language.

“'[The early hominins] didn't hear as well as humans, and they are more like chimps,” Quam told The New York Times."

Evolution and humans;hybridization

by David Turell @, Sunday, October 18, 2015, 23:02 (764 days ago) @ David Turell

Many of us have some Neanderthal, and many Asians some Denisovan:

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20151013-how-interbreeding-shaped-us

"If your ancestors hail from anywhere outside Africa, it's a safe bet that you are part-Neanderthal.

"After modern humans first left Africa, they came into contact with Neanderthals and things got cosy. These early frolics are now visible in our DNA. Genetic analysis indicates that Europeans and Asians obtained 1-4% of their DNA from Neanderthals.

"It seems everyone was at it. Neanderthals interbred with another species, the Denisovans, as did some of us. Some people from South East Asia have up to 6% Denisovan DNA.

"Even Africans whose ancestors never left the continent carry some Neanderthal DNA, because 3000 years ago people from Europe and Asia migrated to Africa. Many modern Africans have inherited some genes, including some Neanderthal ones, from these people.

***

"Brown bears and polar bears can successfully interbreed when they meet. Most of the Galápagos finches are the result of interbreeding, as are many primate species like baboons and gibbons.

"'Seven to 10% of all primate species hybridise, which is common considering a lot don't ever come into contact with each other," says Rebecca Ackermann of the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

"In July 2015 it emerged that a hybrid coral is doing better than either of its parent species. It can survive in a busy shipping channel, which its parents cannot do.

***

"Interbreeding can speed up these changes, says evolutionary geneticist Rasmus Nielsen of the University of California, Berkeley in the US. When modern humans left Africa, integrating with other species therefore allowed us to adapt to new environments much more quickly.

"For example, the DNA evidence hints that we inherited the ability to fight certain diseases from Neanderthals. When we first arrived in Europe our immune response may have struggled to deal with unfamiliar local diseases, but the offspring of those that interbred with Neanderthals fared better.

"The same occurred when Europeans began colonising the Americas, bringing diseases that proved catastrophic to the indigenous population. "The ones that survived were products of mating between Europeans and North Americans," says Nielsen. "Something similar happened, but maybe on a grander scale, between Neanderthal and modern humans.'"

Comment: Hobbits not mentioned. Hybrids have a wider spread of characteristics which would help in survival.

Evolution and humans; our unique genes

by David Turell @, Wednesday, October 21, 2015, 14:01 (762 days ago) @ David Turell

Appearing in the last 3+ million years:

http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2015/10/the-mystery-of-human-only-genes-and-...

"One such unique human gene is HYDIN2. It first appeared around 3.1 million years ago, as a duplicate of an existing gene called HYDIN. During the duplication process, “the head got chopped off and the tail got chopped off,” explains Max Dougherty from the University of Washington. It was as if someone had transcribed a book but neglected the prologue and epilogue. That should have been a fatal mistake since the prologues of genes contain sequences called promoters, which switch them on or off. The new gene should have been dead on arrival—a book that couldn't be opened.

"Instead, as luck would have it, it fused with a copy of another gene, which gave it a new lease on life. The fusion, which Dougherty described at the American Society of Human Genetics 2015 conference, created an entirely original gene, which looks like HYDIN but with a new prologue and a new first chapter. And while HYDIN, like most of our genes, exists in many other animals, its wayward daughter—HYDIN2—is a human-only innovation. (my bold)

***

"Duplicated genes make up some 5 percent of the human genome. Many of them have arisen in the last 10 to 15 million years, since humans, chimps and gorillas started going our separate evolutionary ways. In fact, we—the great African apes—have ended up with far more duplicated genes than, say, orangutans or macaque monkeys. No one fully understands why.

"What's clearer is that these genes are organized in a very unusual way. For example, in other mammals like elephants, rats, and platypuses, the copies tend to sit next to the originals in a tandem series. But in humans, chimps, and gorillas, they disperse across the genome.

"They also have a unique architecture. Imagine a gene, G1, which gets copied into a different part of the genome, producing G2. Now, another duplication event copies G2, creating yet another copy of G1 along with some of the new DNA surrounding it. This happens again and again; with each new duplication event, the core genes picks up more flanking material. “It builds an inverse Oreo cookie,” he says, while holding his hands out and pulling them further and further apart.

***

"So, it takes a lot of work to even discover these genes, let alone divine their function. For example, in 2010, Eichler's team identified 23 human-specific duplicated genes that aren't found in other apes. One of these, SRGAP2, has been duplicated three times, producing copies that aren't found in the reference human genome.

"The second of these, SRGAP2C, is especially interesting. It emerged around 2.4 million years ago, at the time in our evolution when the human brain was becoming distinctively bigger. And Franck Polleux from the Scripps Research Institute showed that SRGAP2C controls the growth and movement of neurons, leading to a thicker set of connections between these cells.

"Marta Florio and Wieland Huttner from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics found a similar example earlier this year. They found that a human-specific duplicated gene called ARHGAP11b was exceptionally active in radial glia, a group of stem cells that generate many of the neurons in our developing brains. When the team activated the human gene in embryonic mice, the rodents developed a larger pool of radial glia, and the kinds of deep folds that are typical of a human brain."

Comment: Lucky or designed?

Evolution and humans; our unique genes

by dhw, Thursday, October 22, 2015, 10:27 (761 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Appearing in the last 3+ million years:

http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2015/10/the-mystery-of-human-only-genes-and-...

QUOTE: "One such unique human gene is HYDIN2. It first appeared around 3.1 million years ago, as a duplicate of an existing gene called HYDIN. During the duplication process, “the head got chopped off and the tail got chopped off,” explains Max Dougherty from the University of Washington. It was as if someone had transcribed a book but neglected the prologue and epilogue. That should have been a fatal mistake since the prologues of genes contain sequences called promoters, which switch them on or off. The new gene should have been dead on arrival—a book that couldn't be opened.

"Instead, as luck would have it, it fused with a copy of another gene, which gave it a new lease on life. The fusion, which Dougherty described at the American Society of Human Genetics 2015 conference, created an entirely original gene, which looks like HYDIN but with a new prologue and a new first chapter. And while HYDIN, like most of our genes, exists in many other animals, its wayward daughter—HYDIN2—is a human-only innovation. (David's bold)

David's comment: Lucky or designed?

Weird! It certainly seems like a random mutation if the head and tail were chopped off during duplication, but the constructive fusion and the new human-specific genes described in the rest of the article suggest that intelligence is at work. More evidence of the autonomous ability of cells to work out ways of improving - or are you suggesting that God dabbled, or preprogrammed the chopping off process and fusion 3.8 billion years ago?

Evolution and humans; our unique genes

by David Turell @, Thursday, October 22, 2015, 14:12 (761 days ago) @ dhw


David's comment: Lucky or designed?

dhw: Weird! It certainly seems like a random mutation if the head and tail were chopped off during duplication, but the constructive fusion and the new human-specific genes described in the rest of the article suggest that intelligence is at work. More evidence of the autonomous ability of cells to work out ways of improving - or are you suggesting that God dabbled, or preprogrammed the chopping off process and fusion 3.8 billion years ago?

You are suggesting that cells dabble in their own DNA! All we know so far is methylation which is an addition to existing genes for adaptations, not restructuring genes to make bigger brains. We know some of the repair mechanisms but this is way beyond those issues. This is gene fusion.

Evolution and humans; our unique genes

by dhw, Friday, October 23, 2015, 13:54 (760 days ago) @ David Turell

David's comment: Lucky or designed?

dhw: Weird! It certainly seems like a random mutation if the head and tail were chopped off during duplication, but the constructive fusion and the new human-specific genes described in the rest of the article suggest that intelligence is at work. More evidence of the autonomous ability of cells to work out ways of improving - or are you suggesting that God dabbled, or preprogrammed the chopping off process and fusion 3.8 billion years ago?

DAVID: You are suggesting that cells dabble in their own DNA! All we know so far is methylation which is an addition to existing genes for adaptations, not restructuring genes to make bigger brains. We know some of the repair mechanisms but this is way beyond those issues. This is gene fusion.

So are you or are you not suggesting that your God personally intervened to chop off the head and tail and bring about the fusion? Or that he preprogrammed it all 3.8 billion years ago?

Evolution and humans; our unique genes

by David Turell @, Friday, October 23, 2015, 14:16 (760 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: You are suggesting that cells dabble in their own DNA! All we know so far is methylation which is an addition to existing genes for adaptations, not restructuring genes to make bigger brains. We know some of the repair mechanisms but this is way beyond those issues. This is gene fusion.

dhw: So are you or are you not suggesting that your God personally intervened to chop off the head and tail and bring about the fusion? Or that he preprogrammed it all 3.8 billion years ago?

One or the other.

Evolution and humans; using virus DNA

by David Turell @, Thursday, November 26, 2015, 14:33 (725 days ago) @ David Turell

Retrovirus DNA is functional in humans according to new research:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/12012072/Ancient-viruses-are-alive...

"Ancient viruses were critical to the evolution of humans and infections left genetic code in our bodies which is still essential for life today, Stanford University has discovered.

"Genetic material of ancient viruses still lingers in our DNA and could explain how humans differ so greatly from other animals.

"Scientists already knew that the human genome (or blueprint) is littered with sequences left behind from long-ago viral infections but did not know if they were still having any impact.

"Now researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine have found that genetic material from a retrovirus called HERV-H is not only active, but is crucial in allowing a fertilised human egg to grow into an embryo.

"It suggests that millions of years ago the path to humanity was started by viral infections changing our DNA and could explain extraordinary evolutionary jumps which turned us into modern humans with larger brains and social skills.

"'This is the first time that these virally derived molecules have been shown to be directly involved with and necessary for vital steps of human development," Dr Vittorio Sebastiano, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynaecology.

"Now researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine have found that genetic material from a retrovirus called HERV-H is not only active, but is crucial in allowing a fertilised human egg to grow into an embryo.

"It suggests that millions of years ago the path to humanity was started by viral infections changing our DNA and could explain extraordinary evolutionary jumps which turned us into modern humans with larger brains and social skills.

"'This is the first time that these virally derived molecules have been shown to be directly involved with and necessary for vital steps of human development," Dr Vittorio Sebastiano, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynaecology.

***

"RNA usually works as a messenger molecule, reading a gene made up of DNA code, and telling the body to make a protein. However in this case the viral RNA was found to actually alter the activity of genes.

"Until the breakthrough scientists had thought that most genetic material from viruses was inert and unable to cause any genetic changes in the body. But the new study suggests not only is it still functioning, but it is crucial to human life. When scientists removed the virus code the fertilised eggs were unable to grow.

"The virus in question is called the HERV-H retrovirus. Such viruses spread by inserting their genetic material into the genome of an infected cell. If the infected cell is a sperm or an egg, the retroviral sequence can also be passed to future generations.

Comment: No notation of when the virus came onboard during evolution of humans. Could this be part of an Inventive Mechanism, or God's way of controlling the results of evolution He wishes?

Evolution and humans;hybridization

by David Turell @, Tuesday, October 18, 2016, 19:39 (398 days ago) @ David Turell

We know that several advanced human ancestors hybridized:

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/animal-hybrids-may-hold-clues-neandertal-human-inte...

"Biological anthropologist Rebecca Ackermann of the University of Cape Town in South Africa co-organized the session to introduce researchers steeped in human evolution to the ins and outs of hybridization in animals and its potential for helping to identify signs of interbreeding on fossils typically regarded as either H. sapiens or Neandertals.

“'I was astonished by the number of people who came up to me after the session and said that they hadn’t even thought about this issue before,” Ackermann says.

"Interbreeding is no rare event. Genome comparisons have uncovered unexpectedly high levels of hybridization among related species of fungi, plants, rodents, birds, bears and baboons, to name a few. Species often don’t fit the traditional concept of populations that exist in a reproductive vacuum, where mating happens only between card-carrying species members.

"Evolutionary biologists increasingly view species that have diverged from a common ancestor within the last few million years as being biologically alike enough to interbreed successfully and evolve as interconnected populations. These cross-species collaborations break from the metaphor of an evolutionary tree sprouting species on separate branches. Think instead of a braided stream, with related species flowing into and out of genetic exchanges, while still retaining their own distinctive looks and behaviors.

"Research now suggests that hybridization sometimes ignites helpful evolutionary changes. An initial round of interbreeding — followed by hybrid offspring mating among themselves and with members of parent species — can result in animals with a far greater array of physical traits than observed in either original species. Physical variety in a population provides fuel for natural selection, the process by which individuals with genetic traits best suited to their environment tend to survive longer and produce more offspring.

"Working in concert with natural selection and random genetic changes over time, hybridization influences evolution in other ways as well. Depending on available resources and climate shifts, among other factors, interbreeding may stimulate the merger of previously separate species or, conversely, prompt one of those species to die out while another carries on. The birth of new species also becomes possible. In hybrid zones where the ranges of related species overlap, interbreeding regularly occurs.

***

"However genes, behaviors and beliefs got divvied up in the Stone Age, a mix of regional populations — including Neandertals and Denisovans — can be considered human ancestors, she theorizes. They all contributed to human evolution’s braided stream.

"That’s a controversial view. Neandertals and Denisovans lived in relatively isolated areas where contact with other hominid populations was probably rare, says paleoanthropologist Matthew Tocheri of Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Canada. Random DNA alterations, leading to the spread of genes that happened to promote survival in specific environments, played far more important roles in human evolution than occasional hybridization did, Tocheri predicts.

"Neandertals and Denisovans can’t yet boast of being undisputed hybrid powers behind humankind’s rise. But a gallery of interbreeding animals could well help detect hybrid hominids hiding in plain sight in the fossil record."

Comment: Hybridization contributed to the bush of life.

Evolution and humans; is it stopped?

by David Turell @, Tuesday, November 15, 2016, 20:47 (370 days ago) @ David Turell

We are still the same species, but we are modifying:

http://phys.org/news/2016-11-humans-evolving-ways.html

"It's often said that through our innovations in science, agriculture and medicine humans have become masters of our biological destiny.

"That we've seized control of our evolution, eliminating most of the causes of death and suffering experienced by our ancient and not too distant ancestors.
We've wiped out hunger and famine and eliminated food shortages in most parts of the world.

"Today, we have access to a wide variety of high quality foods. Items once only available to us seasonally can now be eaten all year round.

***

The upshot is that in some groups the reproductive span seems to be getting longer for both women and men.

"Yet other research has shown that women are under selection for increased height in at least one pre-industrial population and for decreased height in three post-industrial groups.

"The trend to early maturing at smaller body sizes may be the consequence of the widespread decrease in juvenile mortality resulting from improvements to hygiene, public health and medical care.

***

"Field's team investigated the signals of selection spanning the last 2,000 years and found evidence for evolution in three important sets of genes.

"First, there has been strong selection for lactase genes, or those associated with a person's ability to digest milk and other dairy foods.

"So, dairy tolerance has been on the rise over the last couple of thousand years in Britain, perhaps along with increasing levels of milk consumption.

"The second set was with the so-called HLA genes, which play a role in the human immune system.

***

"But most surprising of all was the finding that the genes for blonde hair and blue eyes have been under selection over the last two millenia.

"In this case, it seems that sexual selection rather than natural selection has been driving an increase in the number of people carrying the genes for this combination.
In the UK at least, it seems that gentlemen really do prefer blondes, well at least for the last 2,000 years anyway.

"Far from being esoteric, this kind of research shows how the decisions we make about how we live, what we eat and even who we marry can have long lasting impacts on our evolution."

Comment: Obviously we are H. sapiens with some modifications, none of which suggests a new species of human is around the corner.

Evolution and humans

by David Turell @, Sunday, May 24, 2015, 18:45 (911 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Evolutionary attempts at advancement produced different types of Homo under God's guidance all probably branched from H. Erectus. I don't see why, except sapiens were the target and that was achieved.

dhw: Here are three theistic alternatives: 1) God knew what he wanted, but couldn't work out how to do it;

DAVID: You've left out a fourth possibility: God knew exactly what He wanted, but set up competition just to be sure He had the right formula for a human species survivorship of the type He preferred.

dhw: Your 4) is the same as my 1), except that you're substituting the uncertainty of “just to be sure” for the uncertainty of “couldn't work out”.

My 4) is more of a hands on interpretation in guiding evolution. of course He could work out what he wanted, but perhaps not with coding in advance (pre-planning).


dhw: With my theist hat on, I can accept the possibility of God dabbling for particular purposes, but find it impossible to reconcile dabbling and/or preprogramming with the countless innovations and organisms apparently irrelevant to the production of humans if humans were his goal. “Worked through evolution (I don't know why)” is nice and honest, but in turn I don't know why you refuse to question a hypothesis that clearly makes no sense to either of us.

Why bother to 'make sense'? I'm convinced humans are the goal since we are so unique and very different in kind, and the need for balance in nature has been pointed out before. You are much more analytic of God than I would ever need to be. I don't think our minds are comparable to His, just partially so.

Evolution and humans: speech and muscle complexity

by David Turell @, Tuesday, November 01, 2016, 17:21 (384 days ago) @ dhw

The muscles that control proper human speech are more than 100. Human speech involves anatomic changes of an arched palate, a lower larynx with an epiglottis trap door to protect the lungs and complex breathing controls to clip the air bursts that create intelligible human speech. this requires complex brain controls:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-brain-wiring-behind-a-frustrating-speech-disorder-14779...

"New research on the intricate patterns of brain activity needed to produce speech is giving scientists fresh insights into what goes wrong in various speech disorders.

"Speaking is among the most complex human behaviors the brain controls. Normal speech depends on the precise coordination of more than 100 muscles, spread across the mouth, lungs and vocal cords. The brain issues a series of rapid-fire commands directing these muscles to move in the exact pattern needed to voice specific syllables and words.

"Dr. Chang says his work using brain electrodes reveals how neurons control a series of so-called articulators—including the larynx, lips, facial muscles and tongue—that work together to coordinate speech.

"Some articulators shape the breath. Others push air up through the vocal cords. Still others move the tongue, cheeks and lips. When one of these players falls out of line, speech can sound slurred, shaky or choppy and raspy, as in spasmodic dysphonia.

Comment:The article goes on to discuss the research in terms of spasmodic dysphonia:

"Spasmodic dysphonia, which is incurable, is characterized by uncontrollable voice breaks, strained speech and excessive breathiness. It usually strikes in midlife, when patients hit their personal and professional prime."

Comment: The main point for me is the complexity of over 100 muscles being coordinated, along with the required anatomic changes. There is nothing like this in the ape world. This is a giant evolutionary gap gap explained only by saltation. Humans are obviously different in kind.

Evolution and humans: speech and FoxP2

by David Turell @, Saturday, November 19, 2016, 00:30 (367 days ago) @ David Turell

FoxP2 controls speech in humans but it is found in lesser animals and has the same effect there:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161115114333.htm

"Dr. Jarvis and colleagues report the results of their investigation into the effect of a genetic mutation in the Forkhead box protein #2 (FOXP2) on the vocalization patterns of adult male mice. FOXP2 regulates speech production in humans. Individuals with deficiencies in FOXP2 protein have difficulty forming complex syllables and complex sentence construction.

"Although mice are unable to communicate using speech in the same way as humans, they do vocalize as a means of communicating with each other. Therefore this study sought to determine whether FOXP2 deficiencies have similar consequences for communication by mice as they do for humans.

They do.

***

"In their new study, the investigators wished to determine if there was an effect of a FOXP2 deficiency on the communication patterns of mice.

"The results showed that the FOXP2 heterozygotes have difficulty producing the complex vocal communication patterns that wildtype mice can create with ease -- as measured both by syllable length and the number of unique syllables produced over time. These divergences are particularly strong when comparing the communication of FOXP2 heterozygotes and wildtype males while in the presence of active female mice. In this context, the wildtype males were 3 times as likely as heterozygotes to produce the most complex syllable types and sequences available for review. Dr. Jarvis' team performed intricate statistical analyses to validate this finding, and their conclusion held true.

"Following the conclusion of all recordings, Dr. Jarvis' team used a process known as transsynaptic tracing from vocal larynx muscles to compare the vocal brain regions of wildtype and heterozygote FOXP2 mice. This study revealed that the heterozygote's vocal motor neurons were more widely distributed across the cortex than was the case for wildtype mice. This evidence suggests that the FOXP2 mutation affects both the placement and functioning of the neurons connected to effective communication, from mice all the way to humans.

"Prior research has shown a more limited role for FOXP2 than what is now becoming apparent. As Dr. Jarvis observes, "We believe that FOXP2 already had a pre-existing role in regulating vocal communication before human language evolved.'"

Comment: Not surprising if we believe in common descent. Humans just developed much further in anatomic and brain changes.

Evolution and humans: plate tectonic relationships

by David Turell @, Thursday, December 29, 2016, 19:52 (326 days ago) @ David Turell

There is a current theory that plate tectonic alterations of East Africa in the Rift Valley pushed human evolution:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-climate-change-and-plate-tectonics-shape...

"It should not be a surprise that East Africa was a hotbed of evolution, because over the last five million years everything about the landscape has changed.

"The extraordinary forces of plate tectonics and a changing climate have transformed East Africa from a relatively flat, forested region to a mountainous fragmented landscape dominated by the rapid appearance and disappearance of huge, deep-water lakes. And from this highly variable landscape emerged an ape smart enough to question its own existence.

"Twenty million years ago the Indian and Asian continental plates clashed and pushed up the massive Tibetan plateau. In summer this plateau acts as a huge heat engine, absorbing solar energy which it transfers to the atmosphere, causing immense convection currents. With all this hot air rising, air is sucked in from all round, including moist air from the Indian Ocean that produces intense South East Asian monsoons.

"This has a knock on affect of drawing moisture away from the African continent, and it was this that began the progressive drying out of East Africa. In terms of human evolution, this distinct split between the climate of Asia and Africa coincides with the split between Asian and African apes, the latter eventually evolving into us.

***

"Presented with fragmented vegetation and greater distances between sources of food may have led to the evolution of human bipedalism – walking upright on two legs – around six million years ago. These highly successful early bipedal hominins such as Ardipithecus ramidus or Australopithecus afarensis, were nevertheless relatively small-brained, with a cranial capacity of about 450cm3 compared with modern humans with over 1,500cm3.

"The development of the East African Rift valley fragmented the landscape and formed a large number of separate lake basins. The mountainous landscape makes these basins very sensitive to small changes in rainfall. Martin Trauth of Potsdam University and colleagues found geological evidence that deep, freshwater lakes existed around 2.6 million, 1.8 million and 1 million years ago – key dates in human evolutionary history.

"During each of these periods the local climate of East Africa varied over a 20,000-year cycle, from extreme aridity to very wet conditions. So our ancestors may have had an idyllic environment, cruelly taken away as the lake dried up over a few generations. Thousands of years later the lake would return and the cycle would begin again. The 20,000-year cycle is driven by changes in the Earth’s orbit around the sun, which affects the amount of sunlight received during any particular season. In East Africa it had a significant influence on the timing and duration of the two wet seasons.

"The recent study published in the journal PloS ONE by Susanne Shultz of Manchester University and me statistically links for the first time the emergence of new hominin species, expanding brain capacity, and the movement out of Africa to the appearance and disappearance of deep freshwater lakes (confirming the original work by Martin Trauth and myself).

"The most profound period for human evolution occurs at about 1.8 million years ago, a period which records the highest diversity of hominin species, including the appearance of Homo rudolfensis and Homo erectus with a substantially larger brain capacity of 900cm3, and the first major dispersal of our ancient human ancesters out of East Africa into Eurasia. During this period, the ephemeral deep-freshwater lakes appeared and disappeared along the whole length of the East Africa Rift valley, causing fundamental environmental changes that pushed these new species out of Africa.

"We have now started to put together a coherent picture of how the changing East African landscape has driven human evolution over the last ten million years. The region has altered beyond all recognition, from flat and forested to one filled with spectacular, two-mile-high mountains, savannahs and tropical forests. By priming the land to form lake basins that were sensitive to small changes in rainfall, extreme climate pulses of alternately arid and wet period occurred and had a profound effect on all the animals living in East Africa. The powerful forces of plate tectonics and climate variability ultimately led to our hominid ancestors' development and their dispersal from Africa, to the Caucasus, the Fertile Crescent, and ultimately the rest of the world.

Comment: A fascinating story. Certainly the climatic changes acted as a drive to change the existing ape species, but as I've noted before, but the changes were not required to happen, as shown by the currently existing apes and monkeys demonstrate. The Earth is a very special planet with its changing plate tectonics creating a climate that provides for evolving life.

Evolution and humans: plate tectonic relationships

by dhw, Friday, December 30, 2016, 13:12 (326 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: There is a current theory that plate tectonic alterations of East Africa in the Rift Valley pushed human evolution:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-climate-change-and-plate-tectonics-shape...

QUOTES: "We have now started to put together a coherent picture of how the changing East African landscape has driven human evolution over the last ten million years. The region has altered beyond all recognition, from flat and forested to one filled with spectacular, two-mile-high mountains, savannahs and tropical forests. By priming the land to form lake basins that were sensitive to small changes in rainfall, extreme climate pulses of alternately arid and wet period occurred and had a profound effect on all the animals living in East Africa. The powerful forces of plate tectonics and climate variability ultimately led to our hominid ancestors' development and their dispersal from Africa, to the Caucasus, the Fertile Crescent, and ultimately the rest of the world."

David’s comment: A fascinating story. Certainly the climatic changes acted as a drive to change the existing ape species, but as I've noted before, but the changes were not required to happen, as shown by the currently existing apes and monkeys demonstrate. The Earth is a very special planet with its changing plate tectonics creating a climate that provides for evolving life.

Thank you for this brilliant article! I can’t fault the logic. As for your own logic, we have both noted repeatedly that NO changes were “required to happen” since bacteria have survived perfectly well. The article simply offers an intriguingly convincing explanation as to how it DID happen. But yes, the Earth is very special.

Evolution and humans: big brain from viruses?

by David Turell @, Wednesday, January 25, 2017, 01:35 (300 days ago) @ dhw

Retroviruses incorporated themselves into human and ape DNA's but no other species about 35-45 million years ago. they do affect neurons:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170112110840.htm

"Over millions of years retroviruses have been incorporated into our human DNA, where they today make up almost 10 per cent of the total genome. A research group at Lund University in Sweden has now discovered a mechanism through which these retroviruses may have an impact on gene expression. This means that they may have played a significant role in the development of the human brain as well as in various neurological diseases.

"Retroviruses are a special group of viruses including some which are dangerous, such as HIV, while others are believed to be harmless. The viruses studied by Johan Jakobsson and his colleagues in Lund are called endogenous retroviruses (ERV) as they have existed in the human genome for millions of years. They can be found in a part of DNA that was previously considered unimportant, so called junk-DNA -- a notion that researchers have now started to reconsider.

"The genes that control the production of various proteins in the body represent a smaller proportion of our DNA than endogenous retroviruses. They account for approximately 2 per cent, while retroviruses account for 8-10 per cent of the total genome. If it turns out that they are able to influence the production of proteins, this will provide us with a huge new source of information about the human brain," says Johan Jakobsson.

"And this is precisely what the researchers discovered. They have determined that several thousands of the retroviruses that have established themselves in our genome may serve as "docking platforms" for a protein called TRIM28. This protein has the ability to "switch off" not only viruses but also the standard genes adjacent to them in the DNA helix, allowing the presence of ERV to affect gene expression.

"This switching-off mechanism may behave differently in different people, since retroviruses are a type of genetic material that may end up in different places in the genome. This makes it a possible tool for evolution, and even a possible underlying cause of neurological diseases. In fact, there are studies that indicate a deviating regulation of ERV in several neurological diseases such as ALS, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

"Two years ago, Johan Jakobsson's team showed that ERV had a regulatory role in neurons specifically. However, this study was conducted on mice, whereas the new study -- published in the journal Cell Reports -- was made using human cells.
The differences between mice and humans are particularly important in this context. Many of the retroviruses that have been built into the human DNA do not exist in species other than humans and our closest relatives -- gorillas and chimpanzees. They seem to have incorporated themselves into the genome some 35-45 million years ago, when the evolutionary lineage of primates was divided between the Old and New World.

""Much of what we know about the overall development of the brain comes from the fruit fly, zebrafish and mouse. However, if endogenous retroviruses affect brain function, and we have our own set of these ERV, the mechanisms they affect may have contributed to the development of the human brain," says Johan Jakobsson."

Comment: There has to be some reason why the human brain grew so big compared to the apes. This may be a clue as to the mechanism. Again note the point that so-called junk DNA is shrinking rapidly, much to the discomfort of Darwinists.

Evolution and humans: role of viruses & complex life

by David Turell @, Friday, January 27, 2017, 21:42 (297 days ago) @ David Turell

Another artic le looking at the role of viruses in the process of complexity from evolution:

https://www.quantamagazine.org/20170124-how-viruses-may-have-led-to-complex-life/?utm_s...

"A growing body of evidence supports the idea that viruses played a role in one of the most significant complexity jumps in evolution: The transition from prokaryotes to eukaryotes. Prokaryotic organisms, which include bacteria and archaea, were among the earliest living things on Earth. Their simple cells do not have nuclei or other organelles like mitochondria. These complex structures are a feature of eukaryotic organisms, which include all plants, animals and fungi.

'Eukaryotes also have a higher percentage of intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) than prokaryotes. Unlike the highly structured proteins you may have learned about in high school biology, IDPs have stretches of amino acids that allow them to be more fluid. This fluidity in turn allows them to respond rapidly to many different kinds of cellular instructions.

"In 2012, Keith Dunker of Indiana University and his colleagues looked for these telltale stretches of amino acids in databases of eukaryotic and prokaryotic proteomes. (A proteome is the entire set of proteins expressed by an organism’s genome.) They found what they called a “well-defined gap” between the percentages of IDPs found in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. The IDP content of prokaryotes never seemed to get past 28 percent; eukaryotes never seemed to stray below 32 percent. So where did the increase in IDPs come from? Dunker suggests viruses.

"In that same study, he and his colleagues also looked at the percentages of IDPs in viral proteomes and found that they ranged from 7.3 to 77.3 percent of the proteome, depending on the virus. This overlaps with the percentages of both prokaryotes and eukaryotes, suggesting a possible bridge between the two cell types.

"The standard explanation for the origin of complex life is that eukaryotes arose after one prokaryote swallowed another. The engulfed prokaryote then went on to become the first organelle. But that hypothesis doesn’t explain why eukaryotes have such high IDP percentages. Dunker and his colleagues argue that their findings support a different transition. Some viruses, like the giant mimivirus, have about the same percentage of disordered proteins as some eukaryotes. A bacterium could have engulfed a large-DNA virus in a process called viral eukaryogenesis, eventually yielding a nucleus that matches the high IDP percentages of eukaryotic cells.

"Dunker said many scientists assume that when a virus and host have something in common, the virus picked it up from the host. But it could work the other way as well. When he looked for a possible explanation for the range of IDP percentages between eukaryotes, prokaryotes and viruses, Dunker drew inspiration from Patrick Forterre of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, who has argued that it isn’t clear which way all traits flowed between viruses and their hosts.

“'Viruses have this huge range of disorder, from low to high,” Dunker said. “The disorder may have evolved in the viral world for viral functions and then moved from the virus to the host. We just don’t know which way it went.'”

"So the next time you’re laid low with the flu, stewing in misery, remember that without viruses we might never have evolved our way out of the primordial soup."

Comment: Just as the previous entry posited a role in brain development, this article broadens our knowledge of the possible role of viruses. My recent entry on 'limber' proteins without fixed folding also fits into this same area, as viruses have this type of protein. Did God use viruses as ways to invent progress in complexity?

Evolution and humans: big brain not explained

by David Turell @, Saturday, February 18, 2017, 01:28 (276 days ago) @ David Turell

This essay describes the dilemma of the big brain from a Darwinian standpoint. There are both an anatomical problem and an intelligent parent problem:

http://inference-review.com/article/the-obstetrical-dilemma


"Human newborns are helpless. Without adult care, human infants would not stand a chance. They are unable to locomote on their own, or to eat anything beyond the most limited of diets. There are species whose young exhibit adult behavioral characteristics virtually from birth. The horse is an example. If the horse is not helpless at birth, neither is he particularly smart—nor does he get very much smarter. With human infants, it is the other way around, a fact that requires an evolutionary explanation.

"The emergence of human intelligence is in part attributable to an increase in their brain volume, which is thought to have roughly tripled over the last 2.5 million years. At 1,300cc, human brains are enormous in comparison to those of chimpanzees and gorillas. Brain size relative to total body size has also increased. The human brain constitutes 2% of total adult body weight, and consumes 20–25% of basal metabolism. It is also three times larger than would otherwise be expected for a primate of human body size.

"For at least thirty years, the standard solution to the riddle of human neonate helplessness has been the obstetrical dilemma.

***

"Because our ancestors from the time of Australopithecus walked on two legs, their pelvises had to remain narrow to preserve mechanically efficient movement. But their larger brains required an increasingly wide birth canal. These competing selective pressures resulted in an evolutionary trade-off; the human pelvis became as wide as bipedalism permitted. Since intelligence was under selective pressure, the most straightforward trade-off required human beings to give birth when newborn crania were still relatively small, and their brains relatively underdeveloped.
Hence the helpless, or altricial, human newborn.

***

" the increasing helplessness of human newborns itself exerts a selective force because it requires intelligent parents.10 This requires that the adults have bigger brains, which was the reason for earlier birth in the first place.

***

"Piantadosi and Kidd’s theory relies on three assumptions: that infants do better with more intelligent parents; that intelligent parents require large brains; and that there is a connection between large brains in adults and helplessness in newborns. The third assumption is in question, if only because the second assumption is in question.

***

"Our ancestors certainly did not experience a reproductive advantage because of their ability to do algebra or play the piano.11 The Darwinian environment, in enlarging their brains, somehow granted our ancestors capacities that they would not require, and could not use, for millions of years. Stephen Jay Gould and Elisabeth Vrba have called such grafts exaptations.

***

"If we take science at face value, as scientists often do, we are again left with a strong evolutionary suggestion that selection should not have favored a species capable of creating such powerful theories as quantum mechanics or general relativity.

***

" Even if the theory applies to the evolutionary history of mankind, the most that can be said about our curious predicament is that it is a matter of historical accident. If these consequences of the obstetrical dilemma are ambiguous, its fundamental premises are implausible. It is by no means clear that brain size correlates with intelligence. Human brains are dwarfed by those of whales, dolphins, and elephants;

***

"The most reasonable cerebral measure seems to be the total number of neurons, which can differ between brains of the same size due to differing neuron-packing densities. Because of their relatively large cortices, small neurons, and high packing densities, primates have more neurons than expected given their absolute brain size.28 Human beings in particular have more neurons than any other species—about 15 billion cortical neurons and about 100 billion neurons overall.

"No measure of brain size quite explains the variations in primate intelligence."

Comment: The entire article struggles to explain by Darwin theories the chicken/egg problem of enlarging big brain and pelvic change coordinating in evolution and that is topped by the problem of developing intelligent parents so they can care for helpless kids! You can't have one or the other. All of it had to happen at once, by saltation, not Darwin.

Evolution and humans: Neanderthal contributions

by David Turell @, Friday, February 24, 2017, 22:12 (269 days ago) @ David Turell

With cross breeding Neanderthal genes have had a contribution with effects:

https://cosmosmagazine.com/palaeontology/neanderthals-dna-makes-its-presence-felt?utm_s...

"When scientists sequenced the Neanderthal genome in 2010, it became apparent that prehistoric dalliances had taken place between Neanderthals and our European and Asian ancestors.

"A faint afterglow of these matings is still present in the genomes of modern humans. Around 2% of the genomes of non-Africans is of Neanderthal origin.

"But the mechanism behind such associations has remained a mystery.

"In this study, researchers from the University of Washington looked at the RNA read-outs of Neanderthal gene variants in modern humans

"In some cases, carrying the Neanderthal version of a gene has been linked to changes in fat metabolism, depression and lupus risk.

"Looking across 52 different body tissues, they compared the number of read-outs for the Neanderthal versus the human gene variant. This gave the researchers a picture of how ‘switched on’ Neanderthal genes are compared to their human equivalents, throughout the body.

"The team looked at more than 2000 gene pairs. In 767 of these, either the Neanderthal or the human versions was consistently more ‘switched on’ across all tissues – the split was roughly 50-50.

"Genes associated with auto-immune diseases, schizophrenia, cleft lip, depression, autism and obesity all cropped up as being regulated differently depending on their origin, and could explain why carrying Neanderthal versions of some genes changes disease risk.

"In the brain and testes, read-outs of Neanderthal gene variants were especially low. This suggests that these tissues have undergone more rapid evolution since our divergence from the Neanderthal lineage some 700,000 years ago.

"'Hybridisation wasn't just something that happened 50,000 years ago that we don't have to worry about anymore,” says geneticist Joshua Akey from the University of Washington, a co-author on the study. “Those little bits and pieces, our Neanderthal relics, are influencing gene expression in pervasive and important ways.'"

Comment: It has also been shown that Neanderthal DNA helped humans from Africa with immunity against European infections.

Evolution and humans: Earth's environmental role

by David Turell @, Sunday, February 26, 2017, 22:01 (267 days ago) @ David Turell

A book about how Earth's changes, including plate tectonics appears to push human evolution:

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23331131-000-how-the-world-made-us-chance-and-cl...

"Enter Mark Maslin, professor of climatology at University College London and his new book, The Cradle of Humanity. In it he addresses many outstanding questions, while showing what was going on in the world at the time. As a climatologist, he looks at the ecological consequences of the great dry-out that occurred not only in east Africa but also in primate-rich Europe and primate-free North America.

"In most accounts these events receive the broadest of historical brushstrokes, with just enough detail to lend a plausible inevitability to whatever process is under discussion. The Cradle of Humanity is more textured and subtle, showing not only how such changes altered any meat-giving prey, but how both climate and new mammalian fruit eaters changed the suite of plants available to our early ancestors. Only then does Maslin tackle the probable consequences of this for the social systems and mental development of proto-hominins.

***

" Maslin dedicates whole chapters to the history of Earth and its climate, as well as showing how the interaction of wobbles in the orbits of our planet and the moon create climatic cycles. Then there are the effects of plate tectonics, rain shadows and lakes of varying ephemerality and salinity.

"All this allows Maslin to buttress his central contention, that human evolution as we know it wouldn’t have occurred without the uplift of the Tibetan plateau and the formation of the Great Rift valley. These events, and the cycling between salt flats and shallow sea that mark the history of the Mediterranean, are the great drivers of human evolution – the climatic starting gun that set off the human race.

"Maslin also provides a fine overview of the evolution of evolutionary thinking over the past 150 years, to the point where we now see it less as an orderly march towards an inevitable Homo sapiens and more of a random stumble to now. He is clear that while the appearance of a smart, tool-using primate is no major surprise, the presence of this particular smart, tool-using primate, arising as a result of that exact evolutionary trajectory, owes much more to chance and contingency than previous popular perspectives allowed.

"For much of early human history, for example, there was another smart bipedal ape on the African savannah: Paranthropus, a heavy-jawed grinder of nuts, seeds and tubers. Even a tiny disaster could have wiped out the protohuman’s prey base, leaving only Paranthropus. Similarly, the cycles of aridity and plenty could have been very different, given a greater or lesser slippage of ice fields into the ocean, say, or a change in when the Strait of Gibraltar closed and the Mediterranean experienced death by evaporation. Such shifts might have had us reading this on Mars, or squatting round a cave fire.

"In synthesising the most recent research in palaeoanthropology and giving the ecology of our ancestors a climatological twist, Maslin has produced a book that is fascinating, humbling and informative."

Comment: As the Earth evolved so did we. God uses evolutionary processes

Evolution and humans: Earth's environmental role

by dhw, Monday, February 27, 2017, 12:27 (267 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTE: "Maslin also provides a fine overview of the evolution of evolutionary thinking over the past 150 years, to the point where we now see it less as an orderly march towards an inevitable Homo sapiens and more of a random stumble to now. He is clear that while the appearance of a smart, tool-using primate is no major surprise, the presence of this particular smart, tool-using primate, arising as a result of that exact evolutionary trajectory, owes much more to chance and contingency than previous popular perspectives allowed.(My bold)

DAVID’s comment: As the Earth evolved so did we. God uses evolutionary processes.

Once again, thank you for an interesting article, and my compliments to you on your integrity in reproducing conclusions directly opposite to your own.

Evolution and humans: Earth's environmental role

by David Turell @, Monday, February 27, 2017, 15:27 (266 days ago) @ dhw

QUOTE: "Maslin also provides a fine overview of the evolution of evolutionary thinking over the past 150 years, to the point where we now see it less as an orderly march towards an inevitable Homo sapiens and more of a random stumble to now. He is clear that while the appearance of a smart, tool-using primate is no major surprise, the presence of this particular smart, tool-using primate, arising as a result of that exact evolutionary trajectory, owes much more to chance and contingency than previous popular perspectives allowed.(My bold)

DAVID’s comment: As the Earth evolved so did we. God uses evolutionary processes.

dhw: Once again, thank you for an interesting article, and my compliments to you on your integrity in reproducing conclusions directly opposite to your own.

You are mistaken about my conclusions. The author refers to chance and contingency in his interpretation, which I reject, but the key point of the article is that as the Earth evolved so did human development. That is why I presented it.

Evolution and humans: Earth's environmental role

by dhw, Tuesday, February 28, 2017, 13:36 (266 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTE: "Maslin also provides a fine overview of the evolution of evolutionary thinking over the past 150 years, to the point where we now see it less as an orderly march towards an inevitable Homo sapiens and more of a random stumble to now. He is clear that while the appearance of a smart, tool-using primate is no major surprise, the presence of this particular smart, tool-using primate, arising as a result of that exact evolutionary trajectory, owes much more to chance and contingency than previous popular perspectives allowed.(My bold)

DAVID’s comment: As the Earth evolved so did we. God uses evolutionary processes.

dhw: Once again, thank you for an interesting article, and my compliments to you on your integrity in reproducing conclusions directly opposite to your own.

DAVID: You are mistaken about my conclusions. The author refers to chance and contingency in his interpretation, which I reject, but the key point of the article is that as the Earth evolved so did human development. That is why I presented it.

If he concludes that chance and contingency are decisive factors and you conclude that God did it, I can't see how your conclusions are NOT opposite. The fact that the Earth evolved and humans also evolved doesn't change the argument, since both of you believe in evolution.

Evolution and humans: Earth's environmental role

by David Turell @, Tuesday, February 28, 2017, 14:11 (265 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: You are mistaken about my conclusions. The author refers to chance and contingency in his interpretation, which I reject, but the key point of the article is that as the Earth evolved so did human development. That is why I presented it.

dhw: If he concludes that chance and contingency are decisive factors and you conclude that God did it, I can't see how your conclusions are NOT opposite. The fact that the Earth evolved and humans also evolved doesn't change the argument, since both of you believe in evolution.

Yes he and I disagree about cause, but not the method of evolution. That was the conclusion I referred to.

Evolution and humans: multi-facited development

by David Turell @, Friday, March 10, 2017, 19:12 (255 days ago) @ David Turell

This article enumerates how complex human development was, and how intelligence was enhanced by the changes in body plan from the ape body plan:

https://www.quantamagazine.org/20151110-evolution-of-big-brains/?utm_source=Quanta+Maga...

"Although the mechanics of the human brain’s expansion have long been mysterious, its importance has rarely been questioned. Again and again, researchers have cited the evolutionary surge in human brain size as the key reason for our exceptionally high degree of intelligence compared to other animals. As recent research on whale and elephant brains makes clear, size is not everything, but it certainly counts for something. The reason we have so many more cortical neurons than our great-ape cousins is not that we have denser brains, but rather that we evolved ways to support brains that are large enough to accommodate all those extra cells.

"There’s a danger, though, in becoming too enamored with our own big heads. Yes, a large brain packed with neurons is essential to what we consider high intelligence. But it’s not sufficient. Consider, for a moment, what the world would be like if dolphins had hands. Dolphins are impressively brainy. They have demonstrated self-awareness, cooperation, planning and the rudiments of language and grammar. Compared to apes, though, they are severely limited in their ability to manipulate the world’s raw materials. Dolphins will never enter the Stone Age; flippers cannot finesse.

"Similarly, we know that chimps and bonobos can understand human language and even form simple sentences with touch-screen keyboards, but their vocal tracts are inadequate for producing the distinct series of sounds required for speech. Conversely, some birds have the right vocal anatomy to flawlessly mimic human speech, but their brains are not large enough or wired in the right way to master complex language.

"No matter how large the human brain grew, or how much energy we lavished upon it, it would have been useless without the right body. Three particularly crucial adaptations worked in tandem with our burgeoning brain to dramatically increase our overall intelligence: bipedalism, which freed up our hands for tool making, fire building and hunting; manual dexterity surpassing that of any other animal; and a vocal tract that allowed us to speak and sing. Human intelligence, then, cannot be traced to a single organ, no matter how large; it emerged from a serendipitous confluence of adaptations throughout the body. Despite our ongoing obsession with the size of our noggins, the fact is that our intelligence has always been so much bigger than our brain."

Comment: These are enormous changes in an eight-million-year period. Certainly looks directed. Note my entry describing genes and brain development in early humans (Friday, March 10, 2017, 01:47) :

https://cosmosmagazine.com/biology/evolving-a-human-brain?utm_source=Today+in+Cosmos+Ma...

Evolution and humans: Earth's environmental role

by David Turell @, Monday, May 29, 2017, 00:17 (176 days ago) @ David Turell
edited by David Turell, Monday, May 29, 2017, 00:30

A new book and essay on the role of energy development as the major pattern of the Earth's evolution as it prepared for humans, who require enormous amounts of energy to survive and prosper. The humans play a role in the evolution. It all fits my approach that God uses evolutionary processes at all levels, universe, arth, life.\:

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/05/a-grand-unified-theory-for-life-on-...

"Humans bodies require a ridiculous and—for most of Earth’s history—improbable amount of energy to stay alive.

"Consider a human dropped into primordial soup 3.8 billions years ago, when life first began. They would have nothing to eat. Earth then had no plants, no animals, no oxygen even. Good luck scrounging up 1600 calories a day drinking pond- or sea water. So how did we get sources of concentrated energy (i.e. food) growing on trees and lumbering through grass? How did we end up with a planet that can support billions of energy-hungry, big-brained, warm-blooded, upright-walking humans?

"In “The Energy Expansions of Evolution,” an extraordinary new essay in Nature Ecology and Evolution, Olivia Judson sets out a theory of successive energy revolutions that purports to explain how our planet came to have such a diversity of environments that support such a rich array of life, from the cyanobacteria to daisies to humans.

"Judson divides the history of the life on Earth into five energetic epochs, a novel schema that you will not find in geology or biology textbooks. In order, the energetic epochs are: geochemical energy, sunlight, oxygen, flesh, and fire. Each epoch represents the unlocking of a new source of energy, coinciding with new organisms able to exploit that source and alter their planet. The previous sources of energy stay around, so environments and life on Earth become ever more diverse. Judson calls it a “step-wise construction of a life-planet system.”

"In the epoch of geochemical energy 3.7 billion years ago, the first living organisms “fed” on molecules like hydrogen and methane that formed in reaction between water and rocks. They wrung energy out of chemical bonds. It was not very efficient—the biosphere’s productivity then was an estimated a thousand to a million times less than it is today.

"Sunlight, of course, was shining on Earth all along. When microbes that can harness sunlight finally evolve, the productivity and diversity of the biosphere leveled up. One particular type of bacteria, called cyanobacteria, hits upon a way of harnessing the sun’s energy that makes oxygen (O2) as a byproduct, and with profound consequences: The planet gets an ozone (O3) layer that blocks UV radiation, new minerals through oxygen reactions, and an atmosphere full of highly reactive O2.

"Which brings us to the epoch of oxygen. Given an opportunity, oxygen will steal electrons from anything it finds. New oxygen-resistant organisms evolve with enzymes to protect them from oxygen. They have advantages too: Because oxygen is so reactive, it makes the metabolism of these organisms much more efficient. In some conditions, organisms can get 16 times as much energy out of a glucose molecule with the presence of oxygen than without.

"With more energy, you can have motion and so in the epoch of flesh, highly mobile animals become abundant. They can fly, swim, ran to catch prey. “Flesh” is source of concentrated energy, rich in fats and protein and carbon.

"Then one particular type of animal—those of the genus Homo—figure out fire. Fire lets us cook, which may have allowed us to get more nutrition out of the same food. It lets us forge labor-saving metal tools. It lets us create fertilizer through the Haber-Bosch process to grow food on industrial scales. It lets us burn fossils fuels for energy.

***

"At the very end, Judson speculates that other life-planet systems in the universe may have also evolved through a series of energy expansions. If we want to look for life, we shouldn't only look for planets look like present-day Earth—a point Rothschild  has been making for years. “When people talk about looking for an Earth-like planet, they say it’s got to have oxygen and I go, ‘Are you crazy?,’” she says. “If you were looking at Earth billions of years ago you wouldn’t have seen it.'”

Comment: Fits my ideas about God's use of evolutionary processes, in this instance the Earth. And those required calories for humans must cover a brain that demands 15-20% of the caloric consumption. Further it offers strong support for my insistence on the balance of nature as a crucial source of energy as diverse life was able to develop. Read her whole essay to see my meaning:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-017-0138 Too long to review here. What is presented above is a good taste of it.

Evolution and humans: Earth's environmental role

by dhw, Monday, May 29, 2017, 14:12 (176 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: A new book and essay on the role of energy development as the major pattern of the Earth's evolution as it prepared for humans, who require enormous amounts of energy to survive and prosper. The humans play a role in the evolution. It all fits my approach that God uses evolutionary processes at all levels, universe, arth, life.\:

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/05/a-grand-unified-theory-for-life-on-...

DAVID’S comment: Fits my ideas about God's use of evolutionary processes, in this instance the Earth. And those required calories for humans must cover a brain that demands 15-20% of the caloric consumption. Further it offers strong support for my insistence on the balance of nature as a crucial source of energy as diverse life was able to develop.

Thank you for this brilliant essay. It most certainly fits the theory that the environment plays a huge role in evolution. And of course, if God exists, it means that God used evolutionary processes. However, I can’t find any mention of God in the essay, so I think the author is only concerned with describing the evolutionary processes, not with your theory of how God used them. Is the balance of nature a crucial source of energy? I’d have thought energy supply was what determined the balance of nature, not the other way round. And according to this brilliant essay it also determines the diversity of life, which suggests that environmental change is the trigger that sets in motion the drive for improvement/complexity which in turn produces new species. I can find no hint in this essay that God creates the new species before he changes the environment.

Evolution and humans: Earth's environmental role

by David Turell @, Monday, May 29, 2017, 15:10 (175 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: A new book and essay on the role of energy development as the major pattern of the Earth's evolution as it prepared for humans, who require enormous amounts of energy to survive and prosper. The humans play a role in the evolution. It all fits my approach that God uses evolutionary processes at all levels, universe, arth, life.\:

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/05/a-grand-unified-theory-for-life-on-...

DAVID’S comment: Fits my ideas about God's use of evolutionary processes, in this instance the Earth. And those required calories for humans must cover a brain that demands 15-20% of the caloric consumption. Further it offers strong support for my insistence on the balance of nature as a crucial source of energy as diverse life was able to develop.

dhw: Thank you for this brilliant essay. It most certainly fits the theory that the environment plays a huge role in evolution. And of course, if God exists, it means that God used evolutionary processes. However, I can’t find any mention of God in the essay, so I think the author is only concerned with describing the evolutionary processes, not with your theory of how God used them. Is the balance of nature a crucial source of energy? I’d have thought energy supply was what determined the balance of nature, not the other way round. And according to this brilliant essay it also determines the diversity of life, which suggests that environmental change is the trigger that sets in motion the drive for improvement/complexity which in turn produces new species. I can find no hint in this essay that God creates the new species before he changes the environment.

You don't have to point out the author does not give me direct support. I present material for its content and my conclusions. I didn't expect the author to offer direct support for my God concepts. You know that. I find those defensive statements of yours as humorous. I always present material like this, and you alwsys respond the way you do.

As for energy, I find your view of the balance of nature supplying energy entirely backward as I think the author demonstrates. Further, note that species change the environment almost as much as the environment changes on its own.

And I do not find improvement drive as equivalent to a complexity drive. Do not conflate them.

Evolution and humans: Earth's environmental role

by David Turell @, Tuesday, May 30, 2017, 18:10 (174 days ago) @ David Turell

Changing environmental conditions from wet to dry and back again was common in East Africa in the Rift Valley, but natural springs may have mitigated the effect on early humans:

https://phys.org/news/2017-05-critical-sources-early-humans-east.html

"About 1 to 2 million years ago, early humans in East Africa periodically faced very dry conditions, with little or no water in sight. But they likely had access to hundreds of springs that lingered despite long dry spells, allowing our ancestors to head north and out of Africa, according to a groundbreaking study by scientists at Rutgers University-New Brunswick and other institutions.

"The international team showed that climate may not play such a primary role in human evolution as is commonly asserted.

"This has very important implications for human evolution," said Gail M. Ashley, a professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Rutgers. "We're not saying anything about why early humans left Africa. We're only saying it was possible to leave Africa by going from one spring to the next and they could travel during dry periods."

"The study, which focuses on the key role of "hydro-refugia," or water refuges, in East African hominin (early human) evolution and dispersal, was published today in the online journal Nature Communications. Hydro-refugia, a new term coined by the scientists, include springs, wetlands, groundwater-fed perennial streams and groundwater-fed rivers.

"The study has global relevance since drylands cover about 45 percent of the Earth's land mass. The importance of groundwater for the survival of our hominin ancestors during dramatic climate swings could inspire and inform strategies for human resilience to future climate change, the study says.

"For several million years, the African climate has fluctuated between wet and dry in 23,000-year cycles. And since most lakes are undrinkable (saline or alkaline) and rivers dry up for large parts of the year in East Africa, where early humans arose, the study focused on the viability of groundwater-fed springs.

***

"The study area is vast - nearly 2.1 million square kilometers (some 808,000 square miles), stretching from northern Tanzania to Ethiopia and focusing on the East African Rift Valley. And the scientists performed hydrogeological modeling of the current landscape. A spring that discharges 1,000 cubic meters of water (about 264,000 gallons) a year was deemed productive enough to maintain continuous flow.

***

"Using today's distribution of lakes, rivers and springs sprinkled along the valley from northern Tanzania to Ethiopia, a computer study was performed to see if it would have been possible for humans to walk from one water source to another and survive. The study assumed that a person could walk up to 180 kilometers, or about 112 miles, in three days.

"'In some places, people could not migrate and they would have stayed at one spring for quite a long time until it got wetter again, and then more springs would open up and they could continue to move," Ashley said.

"People have always assumed that climate was the main factor in human migration and human evolution, she said.

"'Climate fluctuated, but the geology allowed the development and maintenance of springs - hydro-refugia - on the landscape, allowing humans to disperse and migrate out of Africa," she said. "The bigger question is what motivated humans to move up the East African Rift Valley. We know they did and we have shown how it was possible, but we don't really have a logical reason for them doing that.'"

Comment: Humans migrated all over the planet in the Eastern Hemisphere. They sailed all over the tropical Pacific. It seems wanderlust was built in. It is logical they looked for the best climate in which to live and take advantage of their level of mental development. Getting a land/ice route to North America required adaptations to cold climate, which is undoubtedly why it happened so late in history.

Evolution and humans: Earth's environmental role

by dhw, Tuesday, May 30, 2017, 19:58 (174 days ago) @ David Turell

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/05/a-grand-unified-theory-for-life-on-...

DAVID’S comment: Fits my ideas about God's use of evolutionary processes, in this instance the Earth. And those required calories for humans must cover a brain that demands 15-20% of the caloric consumption. Further it offers strong support for my insistence on the balance of nature as a crucial source of energy as diverse life was able to develop.

dhw: Thank you for this brilliant essay. It most certainly fits the theory that the environment plays a huge role in evolution. And of course, if God exists, it means that God used evolutionary processes. However, I can’t find any mention of God in the essay, so I think the author is only concerned with describing the evolutionary processes, not with your theory of how God used them. Is the balance of nature a crucial source of energy? I’d have thought energy supply was what determined the balance of nature, not the other way round. And according to this brilliant essay it also determines the diversity of life, which suggests that environmental change is the trigger that sets in motion the drive for improvement/complexity which in turn produces new species. I can find no hint in this essay that God creates the new species before he changes the environment.

DAVID: You don't have to point out the author does not give me direct support. I present material for its content and my conclusions. I didn't expect the author to offer direct support for my God concepts. You know that. I find those defensive statements of yours as humorous. I always present material like this, and you alwsys respond the way you do.

I always respond the way I do because you always make the same comment: any confirmation of evolutionary processes confirms your view that God uses evolutionary processes! If you stop making that comment, I will stop responding to it.

DAVID: As for energy, I find your view of the balance of nature supplying energy entirely backward as I think the author demonstrates.
That is YOUR view. You wrote that the balance of nature was the source of energy! The source means that the “balance” is the supplier! No, I suggest that energy supply is what determines the balance of nature, as I think the author demonstrates.

DAVID: Further, note that species change the environment almost as much as the environment changes on its own.

It’s pretty clear from all the current debates on climate change that species change the environment. However, that does not mean that your God creates species before he plonks them in a new environment.

DAVID: And I do not find improvement drive as equivalent to a complexity drive. Do not conflate them.

No, they are not the same, but each of them explains why speciation took place although it was not required, and so I put them together as alternatives. Perhaps I should use “or”.

Evolution and humans: Earth's environmental role

by David Turell @, Wednesday, May 31, 2017, 01:03 (174 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: I always respond the way I do because you always make the same comment: any confirmation of evolutionary processes confirms your view that God uses evolutionary processes! If you stop making that comment, I will stop responding to it.

Since you know my view, I will stop, but I really make those statements for the lurkers who may be following us.


DAVID: As for energy, I find your view of the balance of nature supplying energy entirely backward as I think the author demonstrates.

dhw: That is YOUR view. You wrote that the balance of nature was the source of energy! The source means that the “balance” is the supplier! No, I suggest that energy supply is what determines the balance of nature, as I think the author demonstrates.

You are correct. It works in both directions. More energy means more diversity can be supported, but I view it as still bound up in a working balance of nature which must remain balanced:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-017-0138

"First, increasing the types of energy sources available to life has led to a far more complex biosphere. Although only geochemical energy and sunlight can power the de novo transformation of inorganic carbon into living tissue, the complexity of the current biosphere rests on multiple levels of energy use.

***

"The step-wise diversification of the biosphere has, in turn, led to an expansion of possible niches, from more complex microbial mats to old shells and abandoned burrows. At the same time, the capacity of life to impact the planetary environment—and thereby the environment in which future life will evolve—has expanded dramatically with each epoch.

***

"Because the construction of the biosphere has depended on these energy expansions, the vanishing of an energy source, even temporarily, could cause a corresponding contraction in the biosphere....one factor in the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous may have been dust ejected by the Chicxulub asteroid impact, which may have blocked out the sun long enough to cause a global collapse in photosynthesis.

***

"—the Great Oxidation Event and the emergence of mobile animals—also coincide with expansions in the kinds of energy sources available to, and consumed by, living beings. The Great Oxidation shifted the prevailing chemistry of the atmosphere and upper ocean and made oxygen gas abundant. The emergence of life forms that eat one another transformed the nature of ecosystems, and introduced a powerful new set of evolutionary interactions, thus accelerating the pace of macroevolutionary change."

Comment: I would say the balance of nature making so much food available allowed the acceleration of evolution, but did not require it. Same refrain.

XXXXX


DAVID: And I do not find improvement drive as equivalent to a complexity drive. Do not conflate them.

dhw: No, they are not the same, but each of them explains why speciation took place although it was not required, and so I put them together as alternatives. Perhaps I should use “or”.

Agreed

Evolution and humans: Earth's environmental role

by dhw, Wednesday, May 31, 2017, 12:27 (174 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: I always respond the way I do because you always make the same comment: any confirmation of evolutionary processes confirms your view that God uses evolutionary processes! If you stop making that comment, I will stop responding to it.
DAVID: Since you know my view, I will stop, but I really make those statements for the lurkers who may be following us.

Then the sake of the lurkers it is incumbent on me to point out that these articles do not support your views.

DAVID: As for energy, I find your view of the balance of nature supplying energy entirely backward as I think the author demonstrates.
dhw: That is YOUR view. You wrote that the balance of nature was the source of energy! The source means that the “balance” is the supplier! No, I suggest that energy supply is what determines the balance of nature, as I think the author demonstrates.
You are correct. It works in both directions. More energy means more diversity can be supported, but I view it as still bound up in a working balance of nature which must remain balanced:
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-017-0138

Thank you. I shan’t repeat the quotes, as my only disagreement is with your continued harping on “the balance of nature”. Energy supply leads to diversity, and diversity itself influences the environment. There is no “must remain balanced” because the balance is constantly changing according to the energy supply and according to the nature of the organisms in existence at the time. This is exemplified by:

The emergence of life forms that eat one another transformed the nature of ecosystems, and introduced a powerful new set of evolutionary interactions, thus accelerating the pace of macroevolutionary change.”

The energy supply changed, carnivores appeared, the balance of nature changed. In the context of evolution, the balance of nature simply refers to whatever organisms and resources exist at the time. When we talk about it now, we mean the balance that exists now, and so when humans introduce foreign species which destroy the status quo, we say they are disturbing the balance of nature.

Evolution and humans: Earth's environmental role

by David Turell @, Wednesday, May 31, 2017, 15:25 (173 days ago) @ dhw

David: You are correct. It works in both directions. More energy means more diversity can be supported, but I view it as still bound up in a working balance of nature which must remain balanced:
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-017-0138

dhw: Thank you. I shan’t repeat the quotes, as my only disagreement is with your continued harping on “the balance of nature”. Energy supply leads to diversity, and diversity itself influences the environment. There is no “must remain balanced” because the balance is constantly changing according to the energy supply and according to the nature of the organisms in existence at the time. This is exemplified by:

The emergence of life forms that eat one another transformed the nature of ecosystems, and introduced a powerful new set of evolutionary interactions, thus accelerating the pace of macroevolutionary change.”

The energy supply changed, carnivores appeared, the balance of nature changed. In the context of evolution, the balance of nature simply refers to whatever organisms and resources exist at the time. When we talk about it now, we mean the balance that exists now, and so when humans introduce foreign species which destroy the status quo, we say they are disturbing the balance of nature.

But we are using word games. "There is no “must remain balanced” because the balance is constantly changing according to the energy supply and according to the nature of the organisms in existence at the time"." We are really saying the same thing. If balance is upset it settles back into balance. If humans destroy the balance, it usually settles into a bad balance, which should be corrected. But the balance in eco-niches provides energy as the author tells us. That is my constant point. Balance provides the energy needed.

Evolution and humans: Earth's environmental role

by Balance_Maintained @, U.S.A., Thursday, June 01, 2017, 05:23 (173 days ago) @ David Turell

David: You are correct. It works in both directions. More energy means more diversity can be supported, but I view it as still bound up in a working balance of nature which must remain balanced:
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-017-0138

dhw: Thank you. I shan’t repeat the quotes, as my only disagreement is with your continued harping on “the balance of nature”. Energy supply leads to diversity, and diversity itself influences the environment. There is no “must remain balanced” because the balance is constantly changing according to the energy supply and according to the nature of the organisms in existence at the time. This is exemplified by:

The emergence of life forms that eat one another transformed the nature of ecosystems, and introduced a powerful new set of evolutionary interactions, thus accelerating the pace of macroevolutionary change.”

The energy supply changed, carnivores appeared, the balance of nature changed. In the context of evolution, the balance of nature simply refers to whatever organisms and resources exist at the time. When we talk about it now, we mean the balance that exists now, and so when humans introduce foreign species which destroy the status quo, we say they are disturbing the balance of nature.


David: But we are using word games. "There is no “must remain balanced” because the balance is constantly changing according to the energy supply and according to the nature of the organisms in existence at the time"." We are really saying the same thing. If balance is upset it settles back into balance. If humans destroy the balance, it usually settles into a bad balance, which should be corrected. But the balance in eco-niches provides energy as the author tells us. That is my constant point. Balance provides the energy needed.

I think that balance, like so many words in the English language, has become somewhat bastardized in meaning. In common parlance, balance has come to mean equilibrium, with the childish idealization of a teeter-totter on a fulcrum sitting perfectly level. (Otherwise known as scales...just saying). This simplistic ideal uses words like 'balance', 'equality', 'similarity', and 'sameness' interchangeably, and loses much in translation. I love these definitions:

a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions

an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.

keep or put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall.[/i]
(bold mine)

We always see proportionality in our complex system; between growth, death, and diversity. Yet, for all intents and purposes, life on Earth has remained largely in a state of balance for as long as we have any real knowledge. Certain elements may rise, fall, or be removed, but each action is countered, allowing the whole system to 'remain upright'. In short, it is largely impossible to completely 'destroy the balance', because the acting of 'destroying the balance' would, in and of itself, simply create a new balance point, and things would keep on keeping on....with or without us.

--
Without darkness there can be no light, no truth without lies.

Evolution and humans: Earth's environmental role

by dhw, Thursday, June 01, 2017, 11:21 (173 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: In the context of evolution, the balance of nature simply refers to whatever organisms and resources exist at the time. When we talk about it now, we mean the balance that exists now, and so when humans introduce foreign species which destroy the status quo, we say they are disturbing the balance of nature.
DAVID: But we are using word games. "There is no “must remain balanced” because the balance is constantly changing according to the energy supply and according to the nature of the organisms in existence at the time"." We are really saying the same thing. If balance is upset it settles back into balance. If humans destroy the balance, it usually settles into a bad balance, which should be corrected. But the balance in eco-niches provides energy as the author tells us. That is my constant point. Balance provides the energy needed.

If the existing balance is upset, it settles back into a different balance, and the new balance will depend on what energy is available. Whatever balance you have at a particular time does not provide energy, but is the result of the energy supply, as you agreed earlier; in turn the organisms then existing (not the "balance") will also supply energy. Please provide a quote from the article that says it is the balance of nature that provides the energy needed. (See also Tony’s comments and my reply on what “balance” actually means.)

TONY: I think that balance, like so many words in the English language, has become somewhat bastardized in meaning. In common parlance, balance has come to mean equilibrium, with the childish idealization of a teeter-totter on a fulcrum sitting perfectly level. (Otherwise known as scales...just saying). This simplistic ideal uses words like 'balance', 'equality', 'similarity', and 'sameness' interchangeably, and loses much in translation. I love these definitions:
a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions

an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.
keep or put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall.

We always see proportionality in our complex system; between growth, death, and diversity. Yet, for all intents and purposes, life on Earth has remained largely in a state of balance for as long as we have any real knowledge. Certain elements may rise, fall, or be removed, but each action is countered, allowing the whole system to 'remain upright'. In short, it is largely impossible to completely 'destroy the balance', because the acting of 'destroying the balance' would, in and of itself, simply create a new balance point, and things would keep on keeping on....with or without us.

One needs to explain balance between what. Since different species have dominated at different times, with environmental change a crucial factor, the balance between species obviously keeps changing. But as long as life goes on, there is always some kind of balance. I like the finale of the last quote: “balance” simply boils down to life goes on until it stops.

Evolution and humans: Earth's environmental role

by David Turell @, Thursday, June 01, 2017, 22:06 (172 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: One needs to explain balance between what. Since different species have dominated at different times, with environmental change a crucial factor, the balance between species obviously keeps changing. But as long as life goes on, there is always some kind of balance. I like the finale of the last quote: “balance” simply boils down to life goes on until it stops.

My only point about balance is it provides the energy for life to continue

Earth's environmental role: entering a new one

by David Turell @, Friday, June 02, 2017, 14:44 (172 days ago) @ dhw

Work with stickleback fish indicate being dumped into a new unfamiliar stream isn't all bad:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170531133328.htm

"It's hard being a misfit: say, a Yankees fan in a room full of Red Sox fans or a vegetarian at a barbecue joint. Evolutionary biologists have long assumed that's pretty much how things work in nature too. Animals that wander into alien environments, surrounded by better-adapted locals, will struggle. But a team of researchers from The University of Texas at Austin was surprised to find that sometimes, misfits can thrive among their much more numerous native cousins.

***

"Yet when the researchers did a series of experiments placing varying numbers of fish from one habitat into the other habitat with local fish, they found the transplants fared surprisingly well. Monitoring the fish in underwater cages over time, the researchers observed that survival had less to do with where a fish was from, and more to do with whether they were the common or rare type within their cage. In either habitat, when stream fish were in the minority, they survived better than when they were in the majority, for instance.

"The scientists found that immigrants could fly under the radar in the face of some threats, which helped them beat the odds.

"You come in and you eat something nobody else around you eats, so you aren't competing for food," Bolnick says. "The local parasites don't know what to do with you because you have an unfamiliar immune system. So you're better off than the residents."

"Bolnick notes that being less adapted to the environment also has some negative effects on immigrants, just as theory predicts, but their study shows that in some instances the benefits of rarity can outweigh the drawbacks of being in an unfamiliar environment.

"'We found newcomers in the population pass on their genes more often than residents, and they contribute more to the next generation," Bolnick says.

"The team found that this effect gives migrants an outsized impact on the genetics of their adopted population. This slows the pace of evolutionary divergence -- the rate at which each of the two populations might pick up new traits that make it differ more from the other.

***

"'Just because the streams look similar to us, on the surface, doesn't mean that they are interchangeable," says Bolnick. "Every stream is ecologically unique. And so every stream population's adaptations must be similarly unique.'" (my bold)

Comment: Note my bold. Eco-niches are unique, and we are still learning about environmental effects on species. Remember Reznick's guppies. And we have no research on human genetic responses in prospective ways because that cannot be done. Translating animal studies to humans is all we have.

Evolution and humans: big brain birth canal

by David Turell @, Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 21:41 (208 days ago) @ David Turell

This article is a study of Lucy and how the birth canal might have changed to allows for a larger brain and wider shoulders, and expands on the previous article I presented:

http://www.livescience.com/58844-did-human-ancestor-lucy-have-midwife.html?utm_source=l...

"Modern humans give birth in a way quite different from how their primate relatives do it, according to research described in the book "Human Birth: An Evolutionary Perspective" (1987, Aldine Transaction) by Wanda Trevathan. This is likely because of both the unusually large size of the modern human brain and the way a woman's pelvis is positioned for upright walking,

***

"In primate babies, skulls are longer from the faces to the backs of the bodies than compared with from the forehead to the chin or from left to right. In most primates, the birth canal is similarly longer in that direction: lengthwise from the front to the back of a female's body. There is often plenty of room for most primate newborns as they exit the birth canal, so most primate mothers do not need help when they give birth.

***

"In contrast, in modern humans, the width of the birth canal, extending from the right to the left of the body, is bigger than the length. As such, babies enter the birth canal facing sideways. As the baby's head progresses out of the canal, it rotates to face the mother's back so the shoulders can then fit through. Human babies fit very snugly in birth canals, so human mothers generally require at least some assistance during birth,

***

"DeSilva's team analyzed the fossil pelvis of Lucy and came up with a mathematical model describing how newborns might have made their way through Lucy's birth canal. "What we found with Lucy was very much in between that of chimpanzees and humans,"

***

"In addition, the researchers said they estimated the width of an A. afarensis baby's shoulders by looking at the relationship between the shoulder widths of adult and newborn primates such as humans, chimps, gorillas, orangutans and gibbons, and by examining the width of an adult A. afarensis' shoulders.

***

Based on their models, the researchers suggested that, as happens in humans, a baby A. afarensis would have entered the birth canal sideways. However, the researchers also suggested that an infant A. afarensis would have had to tilt only a bit to make way for its shoulders as its head slid down the birth canal, instead of its head rotating 90 degrees as happens with human babies during childbirth.

***

"These findings suggest that the evolution of rotation during birth may have occurred in two stages, the researchers said. First, after hips designed for upright walking evolved, infants started rotating a bit in the birth canal so it could accommodate the head and shoulders. Then, as brains got bigger in the human lineage, full rotation began happening during childbirth, the study said."

Comment: This article illustrates the problems for evolution according to Darwin. As the baby's head size increases so must the birth canal and because of completely upright posture the pelvis must change its shape. Therefore both the baby's head and the pelvic changes must coordinate exactly or babies die in transit. This must happen with each step in growth of human brain size. The only position in which a woman can deliver by herself is squatting, as described by Pearl Buck in her novels about China before the 20th Century.

Evolution and humans: complex voice production

by David Turell @, Friday, February 03, 2017, 15:23 (290 days ago) @ David Turell

An essay that describes the complex interplay of organs and brain controls that produce voice, singing controls, language nuances, etc.:

https://cosmosmagazine.com/biology/explainer-why-the-human-voice-is-so-versatile?utm_so...


"Macaques and baboons – two distantly related primates – are able to produce a similar range of voice-like sounds to humans.

"In fact, many animals convey basic information using their voice but they don’t display the full range of vocal abilities available to humans that enables our voice to be used for such a wide range of communication and entertainment.

"This suggests that the uniqueness of the human voice is less in the anatomical ability to produce the sounds and more in our ability to precisely coordinate the physical movements, and to process the sounds into meaningful language.

***

"Voice production can be thought of as a source-filter model. The voice is a combination of a vibrating source that controls its amplitude and pitch (the five tones in the example above), and an acoustic filter that controls how it sounds, much like how you can shape the sound with a graphic equaliser on a sound system.

"The source is the vibrating vocal folds situated in the larynx. The filter is the airway that runs from the vocal folds to the lips or nostrils, which we call the vocal tract... the larynx (voice box) comprises the epiglottis to the cricoid cartilage. The thyroid cartilage tends to protrude from the neck in men and is called the Adam’s apple.

"The vocal folds are two flaps of flesh that vibrate around 100-300 times per second (Hz) in speech.

"The widely used name “vocal cords” came about from French anatomist Antoine Ferrein’s analogy that the air acted like a bow playing the strings (cordes in French) of the viola da gamba, or even a feather plucking the strings of a harpsicord.

"While these analogies aren’t very accurate, understanding the physics of vocal fold motion is still an active area of research, since experiments are so difficult.
Observing the vocal folds is possible but not always practical. We can look at them but only from above – and even that isn’t very comfortable.

"The vocal fold vibration isn’t an on-off twitching of muscles, instead it is caused by the air that is passed over the vocal folds from the lungs. The frequency of vibration and its amplitude are controlled by a combination of pressure supplied by the lungs, the shape of the gap between the folds (the glottis), and the tension supplied by muscles in the larynx.

"Learning to use all of these voice controls doesn’t come easily – ask any teenage boy. Even singers take years to master the independent control of pitch and volume, which is put to the test by a practice a technique called messa di voce.

"Speech sounds, such as vowels and consonants, are determined by the vocal tract, which changes shape by moving the articulators (tongue, lips, soft palate, etc.) to filter the sound produced by the vocal folds.

***

"Although it is obviously more complicated, for a physicist, the vocal tract is something like a cylinder. It is a resonant system that is closed (or almost closed) at the vocal folds and open at the mouth.

"A resonant system allows standing waves to form. In the vocal tract the standing waves, or resonances, occur when the pressure is high at the vocal folds and low at the mouth.

"The sound produced by the vocal folds at frequencies close to these resonances will be more noticeable. These more noticeable frequencies are called formants and they distinguish different vowel sounds.

***

"So if all humans (and some primates) can produce such a wide range of sounds, why do we have accents when we learn foreign languages?

"Surely, if I want to learn Mandarin, I just need to train myself to produce those 2,000 sounds mentioned earlier. It would be almost like a form of physical exercise. The problem is our brains tend to categorise similar sounds. This hinders us in producing and perceiving sounds that do not fit into these categories.

"For example, the French words for “above” and “below” (“dessus” and “dessous”) tend to sound the same to untrained English speakers. When we learn French, our brain must be taught to separate “u” and “ou” into two new categories, where previously there was only one.

"So if our brains can’t distinguish finely enough between the different sounds, could we use our understanding of voice production to improve language learning? Seeing the articulators inside our vocal tract in action is one idea that could help."

Comment: Production of voice and language is highly complex. Why did evolution bother? Combined with the big, big brain, I see purposeful direction. Look at he illustrations. They help.

Evolution and humans: late speech developments

by David Turell @, Friday, March 17, 2017, 13:30 (249 days ago) @ David Turell

This study looks at the epigenetic changes that enhanced the development of current human speech abilities:

https://cosmosmagazine.com/biology/complex-speech-in-humans-is-a-recent-development?utm...

"The remarkable range of human speech is a more recent evolutionary development than previously thought, a new study claims.

"In a paper that awaits peer-review on pre-print repository bioRxiv, an international team of researchers reveals that the structure of the human vocal tract and related parts of the face, which together deliver optimum conditions for speech production, is unique to modern humans.

***

"They contend that older human species such as Neanderthal and Denisovans would not have enjoyed the full capacity for speech that we do. In fact, the authors state “the evolution of vocalisation apparatus of modern humans is unique among hominins and great apes.”

"Interestingly, the team make this claim not based on genetics, but on ‘epigenetics’ – the study of the way that factors outside of genes can control and effect heredity.

***

"Patterns of methylation can be mapped. Comparing the maps of modern and archaic humans, as well as great apes, led Gokhman and colleagues to conclude that complex speech is a recent development. The scientists state “the molecular mechanisms that underlie the modern human face and voice … arose after the split from Neanderthals and Denisovans”.

"The epigenetic nature of the mechanisms might well demonstrate that significant evolutionary change can happen without corresponding change in genes.

"Many are still inclined to agree with the sentiment Darwin expressed in The Descent of Man that “language owes its origin to the imitation and modification of various natural sounds, the voices of other animals, and man's own instinctive cries.” This is because it seems sensible that some capacity for speech would arise first, and the full complexity of symbolic logic and language would follow.

"But Darwin’s suggestion is long out of date. Modern research has given rise to multiple competing theories based on more recent aspects of evolutionary theory. Widely accepted, however, is the notion that words are cheap. Literally.

"Words don’t require substantial energy investment from an organism, so there is little at stake in using them. This means that it’s just as cheap to lie as to tell the truth, and scientists think this might have been a barrier to the evolution of spoken language.

"Researchers now believe that for spoken language to become a successful and stable evolutionary strategy, humans must first have developed both full symbolic culture and extremely high levels of interpersonal trust.

"While the last condition may strike us as unlikely in the current era, the paper’s claim that the physical architecture needed for speech is a relatively recent adaptation seems to support this theory."

Comment: the recognition of the complex physical adaptations for speech noted early in this article fit the findings in the book I cite, The Ape That Spoke, by John Mc Crone. The proposed interplay that followed with brain development tied to cultural development is a logical conclusion. I don't know why the authors got so involved in trust issues. Hunter-gatherers lived in small trusting groups for survival at a time when complex language developed.

Evolution and humans:anthropocene future effects

by David Turell @, Saturday, March 18, 2017, 16:42 (247 days ago) @ David Turell

I am convinced biologic evolution is at an endpoint with humans in charge. We can take care of ourselves and solve many disease and hunger problems. Other than asteroids and earthquakes and severe weather we face few environmental challenges. We can nudge asteroids off course and warn about the dangers that we can not stop, but as this article shows we are making a mess of he Earth:

https://aeon.co/ideas/deep-time-s-uncanny-future-is-full-of-ghostly-human-traces?utm_so...

"The Anthropocene, or era of the human, denotes how industrial civilisation has changed the Earth in ways that are comparable with deep-time processes. The planet’s carbon and nitrogen cycles, ocean chemistry and biodiversity – each one the product of millions of years of slow evolution – have been radically and permanently disrupted by human activity.

***

"Deep time represents a certain displacement of the human and the divine from the story of creation. Yet in the Anthropocene, ironically we humans have become that sublime force, the agents of a fearful something that is greater than ourselves. A single mine in Canada’s tar sands region moves 30 billion tonnes of sediment annually, double the quantity moved by all the worlds’ rivers combined. The weight of the fresh water we have redistributed has slowed the Earth’s rotation. The mass extinction of plant and animal species is unlikely to recover for 10 million years.

***

"One of the most chilling traces of the Anthropocene is the global dispersal of radioactive isotopes since mass thermonuclear weapons-testing began in the middle of the 20th century, which means that everyone born after 1963 has radioactive matter in their teeth. The half-life of depleted uranium (U-238) is around 4.5 billion years, roughly the same as the age of the Earth, while that of the plutonium in Chernobyl’s nuclear reactor is 240,000 years. Such timescales resist the imagination, but exist as a haunting presence in our daily lives.

***

"Some 60 billion chickens are killed for human consumption each year; in the future, fossilised chicken bones will be present on every continent as a testimony to the intrusion of human desires in the geological record. Plastics, which began being mass-produced in the middle of the 20th century, give us back the world as the West has been taught to see it – pliable, immediately available, and smoothed to our advantage. Yet almost every piece of plastic ever made remains in existence in some form, and their chemical traces are increasingly present in our bodies. It is ironic that the characteristic ‘new’ smell of PVC is the result of the unstable elements in the material decaying. Although ostensibly inert, like Chernobyl’s ‘undead’ isotopes, plastics are in fact intensely lively, leaching endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Single-use plastic might seem to disappear when I dispose of it, but it (and therefore I) will nonetheless continue to act on the environments in which it persists for millennia.

***

"Humans created 5 billion gigabytes of digital information in 2003; in 2013 it took only 10 minutes to produce the same amount of data. Despite the appealing connotations of ‘the cloud’, this data has to go somewhere. Greenpeace estimates that the power consumption of just one of Apple’s immense data centres is equivalent to the annual supply for 250,000 European homes.

***

"Whereas Hawkes described a land shaped by a combination of geological process, organic life and human activity, we have decisively shifted the balance. But the need to imagine deep time in light of our present-day concerns is more vital than ever. Deep time is not an abstract, distant prospect, but a spectral presence in the everyday. The irony of the Anthropocene is that we are conjuring ourselves as ghosts that will haunt the very deep future."

Comment: We are obviously altering the Earth. Will that alter us?

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Wednesday, May 10, 2017, 20:31 (194 days ago) @ David Turell

The debate is whether the brain grew big first and developed function or did the need for function drive the enlargement:

https://phys.org/news/2017-05-brain-evolution-size-mattersmost.html

"Which came first, overall bigger brains or larger brain regions that control specialized behaviors? Neuroscientists have debated this question for decades, but a new Cornell University study settles the score.

"The study reports that though vertebrate brains differ in size, composition and abilities, evolution of overall brain size accounts for most of these differences, with larger brains leading to greater capabilities.

"The study of 58 species of songbirds also found that once a species evolved a larger brain, brain regions that control the beak and mouth, and the area for song, developed additional complex neural networks.

***

"The study is the first to compare—and resolve—two competing theories of brain evolution. One theory holds that natural selection drove progressive changes in particular areas of the brain, which then led to larger overall brains in species that needed them to survive.

"The other theory contends that some species acquired a bigger brain in general, and its larger basic parts could then be recruited for specific complex behaviors.

"To test these theories, Moore and DeVoogd measured the sizes of overall brains and 30 discrete areas that control behaviors in 58 songbirds spanning 20 families.

"Most of the variation in brain regions was accounted for by differences in the brain's overall size. But in two specific systems there was a significant amount of variation beyond what could be explained by brain size. Areas that controlled song were much larger in species that produce more varied and complex songs. Also, brain areas controlling the face and mouth were especially large in species with short, fat beaks that eat seeds, and they were small in species with long, thin beaks that eat insects.

"'If you've ever watched a bird deal with a sunflower seed, it pushes the seed around with its tongue and grasps it with different points in its beak. And then it is able to break it open and get the inside out," DeVoogd explained.

"When it comes to humans, "it's always been controversial how we got to be who we are," DeVoogd said. Since supporting a big brain requires great demands on energy and oxygen, some researchers speculate that changes in the diets of early humans, including the ability to find and cook high-quality food, helped facilitate overall human brain growth by supplying the needed calories and protein.

"Others speculate that living socially protected early humans and created evolutionary pressures for developing language, DeVoogd said. "

Comment: Size first seems to be correct, with increased specialized function later. It has always been thought that the control of fire and cooking helped with the necessary energy supply to support a calorie-eating brain like ours. Now the big question. What drove the enlargement of the human brain from 400 cc. to 1,200 cc.? Nothing from natural challenges we can see.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Thursday, May 11, 2017, 14:19 (194 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: The debate is whether the brain grew big first and developed function or did the need for function drive the enlargement:
https://phys.org/news/2017-05-brain-evolution-size-mattersmost.html

QUOTE: "Which came first, overall bigger brains or larger brain regions that control specialized behaviors? Neuroscientists have debated this question for decades, but a new Cornell University study settles the score.
"The study reports that though vertebrate brains differ in size, composition and abilities, evolution of overall brain size accounts for most of these differences, with larger brains leading to greater capabilities.
"The study of 58 species of songbirds also found that once a species evolved a larger brain, brain regions that control the beak and mouth, and the area for song, developed additional complex neural networks.

Clearly, then, the regions controlling the beak and mouth complexified in response to a functional need. How does this support the theory that the brain grew larger before there was a functional need instead of the need driving the enlargement?

DAVID's comment: Size first seems to be correct, with increased specialized function later. It has always been thought that the control of fire and cooking helped with the necessary energy supply to support a calorie-eating brain like ours. Now the big question. What drove the enlargement of the human brain from 400 cc. to 1,200 cc.? Nothing from natural challenges we can see.

I suggest the drive for improvement. Here is another big question for you: if you believe the enlarged brain preceded function, i.e. was the cause of the enhanced consciousness that has led to the great gulf between us and our fellow animals, how can you support dualism, the essence of which is that the immaterial mind uses the material brain, as opposed to being the product of the brain?

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Friday, May 12, 2017, 00:39 (193 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: The debate is whether the brain grew big first and developed function or did the need for function drive the enlargement:
https://phys.org/news/2017-05-brain-evolution-size-mattersmost.html

QUOTE: "Which came first, overall bigger brains or larger brain regions that control specialized behaviors? Neuroscientists have debated this question for decades, but a new Cornell University study settles the score.
"The study reports that though vertebrate brains differ in size, composition and abilities, evolution of overall brain size accounts for most of these differences, with larger brains leading to greater capabilities.
"The study of 58 species of songbirds also found that once a species evolved a larger brain, brain regions that control the beak and mouth, and the area for song, developed additional complex neural networks.

dhw: Clearly, then, the regions controlling the beak and mouth complexified in response to a functional need. How does this support the theory that the brain grew larger before there was a functional need instead of the need driving the enlargement?

You are challenging the conclusion of the study authors?


DAVID's comment: Size first seems to be correct, with increased specialized function later. It has always been thought that the control of fire and cooking helped with the necessary energy supply to support a calorie-eating brain like ours. Now the big question. What drove the enlargement of the human brain from 400 cc. to 1,200 cc.? Nothing from natural challenges we can see.

dhw: I suggest the drive for improvement. Here is another big question for you: if you believe the enlarged brain preceded function, i.e. was the cause of the enhanced consciousness that has led to the great gulf between us and our fellow animals, how can you support dualism, the essence of which is that the immaterial mind uses the material brain, as opposed to being the product of the brain?

You are forgetting that I view the brain as a receiver of consciousness. The brain must be of a certain size and complexity before it experiences full consciousness.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Friday, May 12, 2017, 13:39 (193 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: Clearly, then, the regions controlling the beak and mouth complexified in response to a functional need. How does this support the theory that the brain grew larger before there was a functional need instead of the need driving the enlargement?
DAVID: You are challenging the conclusion of the study authors?

The article itself is very disjointed, but there is nothing in it to prove that functional need did not drive enlargement. It is the editor who says the “score” has been settled. Here is the authors’ conclusion (which also jumps around):


QUOTE: When it comes to humans, "it's always been controversial how we got to be who we are," DeVoogd said. Since supporting a big brain requires great demands on energy and oxygen, some researchers speculate that changes in the diets of early humans, including the ability to find and cook high-quality food, helped facilitate overall human brain growth by supplying the needed calories and protein.
Others speculate that living socially protected early humans and created evolutionary pressures for developing language, DeVoogd said.

Some say this and some say that. If these statements are connected, I take them to mean that a new diet enlarged the brain which then produced language, or the need for language enlarged the brain, which then required a change in diet. The score is far from settled.

DAVID's comment: Size first seems to be correct, with increased specialized function later. It has always been thought that the control of fire and cooking helped with the necessary energy supply to support a calorie-eating brain like ours. Now the big question. What drove the enlargement of the human brain from 400 cc. to 1,200 cc.? Nothing from natural challenges we can see.
dhw: I suggest the drive for improvement. Here is another big question for you: if you believe the enlarged brain preceded function, i.e. was the cause of the enhanced consciousness that has led to the great gulf between us and our fellow animals, how can you support dualism, the essence of which is that the immaterial mind uses the material brain, as opposed to being the product of the brain?

DAVID: You are forgetting that I view the brain as a receiver of consciousness. The brain must be of a certain size and complexity before it experiences full consciousness.

Of course I am not forgetting your view. That is my point. A receiver does not produce. Dualism argues that consciousness is not the product of the brain, which is why you are able to believe that your consciousness can survive the death of your brain (as seems to be confirmed by NDE experiences). This can only mean that the brain develops in response to consciousness, not the other way round. I am not taking sides here. I am pointing out what seems to me an inconsistency in your beliefs.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Friday, May 12, 2017, 15:36 (192 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: You are forgetting that I view the brain as a receiver of consciousness. The brain must be of a certain size and complexity before it experiences full consciousness.

dhw: Of course I am not forgetting your view. That is my point. A receiver does not produce. Dualism argues that consciousness is not the product of the brain, which is why you are able to believe that your consciousness can survive the death of your brain (as seems to be confirmed by NDE experiences). This can only mean that the brain develops in response to consciousness, not the other way round. I am not taking sides here. I am pointing out what seems to me an inconsistency in your beliefs.

Is a newborn fully conscious. Not in an adult sense. Full consciousness develops due to the plasticity of the brain to enlarge and develop the complexity it needs for a full reception of consciousness. I view H. habilis to have a crystal radio set, H. erectus to have an AM radio, Neanderthal to have an FM set, and we've got television, as an example of the receiver concept.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Saturday, May 13, 2017, 09:35 (192 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: You are forgetting that I view the brain as a receiver of consciousness. The brain must be of a certain size and complexity before it experiences full consciousness.

dhw: Of course I am not forgetting your view. That is my point. A receiver does not produce. Dualism argues that consciousness is not the product of the brain, which is why you are able to believe that your consciousness can survive the death of your brain (as seems to be confirmed by NDE experiences). This can only mean that the brain develops in response to consciousness, not the other way round. I am not taking sides here. I am pointing out what seems to me an inconsistency in your beliefs.

DAVID: Is a newborn fully conscious. Not in an adult sense. Full consciousness develops due to the plasticity of the brain to enlarge and develop the complexity it needs for a full reception of consciousness. I view H. habilis to have a crystal radio set, H. erectus to have an AM radio, Neanderthal to have an FM set, and we've got television, as an example of the receiver concept.

How can consciousness develop because the brain becomes big enough to receive it? That is like saying that if you buy a bigger bucket, it will cause more rain to fall so that the rain can fill the bucket. I just cannot see the logic in your argument that while the receiver does not produce consciousness, and consciousness can exist independently of the receiver, the receiver has to develop before consciousness can develop. At least the materialist view is consistent: consciousness is the product of the brain and ceases when the brain dies. I repeat, I am not taking sides (and indeed some time ago, I offered a possible reconciliation between the two schools of thought), but you appear to be taking both sides at once.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Saturday, May 13, 2017, 15:19 (191 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: Is a newborn fully conscious. Not in an adult sense. Full consciousness develops due to the plasticity of the brain to enlarge and develop the complexity it needs for a full reception of consciousness. I view H. habilis to have a crystal radio set, H. erectus to have an AM radio, Neanderthal to have an FM set, and we've got television, as an example of the receiver concept.

dhw: How can consciousness develop because the brain becomes big enough to receive it? That is like saying that if you buy a bigger bucket, it will cause more rain to fall so that the rain can fill the bucket. I just cannot see the logic in your argument that while the receiver does not produce consciousness, and consciousness can exist independently of the receiver, the receiver has to develop before consciousness can develop. At least the materialist view is consistent: consciousness is the product of the brain and ceases when the brain dies. I repeat, I am not taking sides (and indeed some time ago, I offered a possible reconciliation between the two schools of thought), but you appear to be taking both sides at once.

You miss the point entirely. The radio receiver concept assumes consciousness is an independent entity pervading the universe. The brain does not develop consciousness. It RECEIVES consciousness and as through plasticity the brain develops, it learns how to use it. Personality development is part of the process; intellectual capacity, I.Q., depth of thought all part of development of its use as a tool.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Sunday, May 14, 2017, 12:16 (191 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Is a newborn fully conscious. Not in an adult sense. Full consciousness develops due to the plasticity of the brain to enlarge and develop the complexity it needs for a full reception of consciousness. […]
dhw: How can consciousness develop because the brain becomes big enough to receive it? That is like saying that if you buy a bigger bucket, it will cause more rain to fall so that the rain can fill the bucket. I just cannot see the logic in your argument that while the receiver does not produce consciousness, and consciousness can exist independently of the receiver, the receiver has to develop before consciousness can develop. At least the materialist view is consistent: consciousness is the product of the brain and ceases when the brain dies. […]

DAVID: You miss the point entirely. The radio receiver concept assumes consciousness is an independent entity pervading the universe. The brain does not develop consciousness. It RECEIVES consciousness and as through plasticity the brain develops, it learns how to use it. Personality development is part of the process; intellectual capacity, I.Q., depth of thought all part of development of its use as a tool.

Unless I have completely misunderstood the above, you seem to be suggesting some form of consciousness that has nothing to be conscious of: a blank that somehow enters each individual organism from outside. And then you say the plastic, developing brain learns how to use it, whereas your belief in free will suggests that consciousness uses the brain. Please clarify: do you think the brain uses consciousness, or consciousness uses the brain?
I’m not sure where this discussion will lead us, but at least we can do a bit more delving.

My starting point is that each individual organism has his/her/its personal consciousness. You asked if a newborn baby is “fully conscious”, and I think that’s an important question in relation to all the above. When a baby cries for food, its consciousness is operating at the lowest animal level: the body tells it what it needs and the brain triggers the appropriate actions to express its needs. As individual brains and bodies mature and subjectively experience the outer as well as the inner world, they complexify their needs and modes of expression, as there is more and more for them to be conscious of. The “independent entity” you have described above is a blanket external awareness of nothing – and incidentally as such can hardly be identified with your God, since he could not have created the universe if he wasn’t conscious of something. The only such nebulous concept I can think of that might “pervade the universe” is some form of panpsychism in which materials possess an innate degree of awareness. But in that case, consciousness is not an “independent entity”; it is confined to individual materials, and so the individual material brain has and develops its own consciousness, as opposed to receiving it as a blank blob of nothingness from outside itself. I’ll leave it at that for the time being, to get your angle on what I’ve said so far.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Sunday, May 14, 2017, 22:34 (190 days ago) @ dhw
edited by David Turell, Sunday, May 14, 2017, 23:05


DAVID: You miss the point entirely. The radio receiver concept assumes consciousness is an independent entity pervading the universe. The brain does not develop consciousness. It RECEIVES consciousness and as through plasticity the brain develops, it learns how to use it. Personality development is part of the process; intellectual capacity, I.Q., depth of thought all part of development of its use as a tool.

dhw: Unless I have completely misunderstood the above, you seem to be suggesting some form of consciousness that has nothing to be conscious of: a blank that somehow enters each individual organism from outside. And then you say the plastic, developing brain learns how to use it, whereas your belief in free will suggests that consciousness uses the brain. Please clarify: do you think the brain uses consciousness, or consciousness uses the brain?

I'll try an other attempt at the analogy. The electromagnetic waves that arrive at the radio set are structured, contain information and the radio turns them into intelligible sound, or pictures and sound in the TV. There is a structured consciousness that runs the universe. We receive a bit of it with our brains and learn to use it. The brain uses to consciousness it receives. Granted the radio simply receives a working signal. Perhaps the best analogy is downloading an app to an I phone for special use by that phone. Our brains are much more versatile in that they can learn to use the consciousness signal, take control of it with free will decision making.


dhw: My starting point is that each individual organism has his/her/its personal consciousness. You asked if a newborn baby is “fully conscious”, and I think that’s an important question in relation to all the above. When a baby cries for food, its consciousness is operating at the lowest animal level: the body tells it what it needs and the brain triggers the appropriate actions to express its needs. As individual brains and bodies mature and subjectively experience the outer as well as the inner world, they complexify their needs and modes of expression, as there is more and more for them to be conscious of. The “independent entity” you have described above is a blanket external awareness of nothing – and incidentally as such can hardly be identified with your God, since he could not have created the universe if he wasn’t conscious of something. The only such nebulous concept I can think of that might “pervade the universe” is some form of panpsychism in which materials possess an innate degree of awareness. But in that case, consciousness is not an “independent entity”; it is confined to individual materials, and so the individual material brain has and develops its own consciousness, as opposed to receiving it as a blank blob of nothingness from outside itself. I’ll leave it at that for the time being, to get your angle on what I’ve said so far.

The consciousness of the universe is at the quantum level of reality. Everything is based on it. Remember, Penrose thinks consciousness is quantum activity in the brain.

http://nautil.us//issue/47/consciousness/roger-penrose-on-why-consciousness-does-not-co...

"The philosopher David Chalmers has speculated that consciousness may be a fundamental property of nature existing outside the known laws of physics. Others—often branded “mysterians”—claim that subjective experience is simply beyond the capacity of science to explain.

"Penrose’s theory promises a deeper level of explanation. He starts with the premise that consciousness is not computational, and it’s beyond anything that neuroscience, biology, or physics can now explain. “We need a major revolution in our understanding of the physical world in order to accommodate consciousness,” Penrose told me in a recent interview. “The most likely place, if we’re not going to go outside physics altogether, is in this big unknown—namely, making sense of quantum mechanics.”

"He draws on the basic properties of quantum computing, in which bits (qubits) of information can be in multiple states—for instance, in the “on” or “off” position—at the same time. These quantum states exist simultaneously—the “superposition”—before coalescing into a single, almost instantaneous, calculation. Quantum coherence occurs when a huge number of things—say, a whole system of electrons—act together in one quantum state.

"It was Hameroff’s idea that quantum coherence happens in microtubules, protein structures inside the brain’s neurons.

***

"When they met in Oxford, Penrose realized that microtubules had the best chance of anything he’d seen that could mediate large-scale quantum coherence within the brain. And ever since, Penrose and Hameroff have been peddling their theory."

Comment: Quantum consciousness is very possible.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Monday, May 15, 2017, 13:21 (190 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: The radio receiver concept assumes consciousness is an independent entity pervading the universe. The brain does not develop consciousness. It RECEIVES consciousness and as through plasticity the brain develops, it learns how to use it. […]
dhw: Unless I have completely misunderstood the above, you seem to be suggesting some form of consciousness that has nothing to be conscious of: a blank that somehow enters each individual organism from outside. And then you say the plastic, developing brain learns how to use it, whereas your belief in free will suggests that consciousness uses the brain. Please clarify: do you think the brain uses consciousness, or consciousness uses the brain?
DAVID: I'll try an other attempt at the analogy. The electromagnetic waves that arrive at the radio set are structured, contain information and the radio turns them into intelligible sound, or pictures and sound in the TV. There is a structured consciousness that runs the universe. We receive a bit of it with our brains and learn to use it. The brain uses to consciousness it receives.

What is a “structured” consciousness as opposed to consciousness? What does “uses to consciousness” mean? In your scenario either the brain uses consciousness, or consciousness uses the brain. It’s a straightforward question, and I’m afraid I find your analogy confusing. You now have the universal consciousness (which you call God) running the universe and sending “a bit” of consciousness into our brain. In your analogy, the signals contain information to be deciphered. What sort of information is God sending? If there is no information, but simply a blank consciousness, there is nothing for the receiver to “turn into” intelligibility. So all you seem to be saying is that your God makes the brain conscious, and you can forget all about signals and receivers. However, if your analogy with its repeated use of “structured” means that your God actually sends meaningful signals for the brain to translate into meaningful information, then is he telling us what to think?

DAVID: Granted the radio simply receives a working signal. Perhaps the best analogy is downloading an app to an I phone for special use by that phone. Our brains are much more versatile in that they can learn to use the consciousness signal, take control of it with free will decision making.

What is a “consciousness signal”? If the signals are not simply blank consciousness but are meaningful (i.e. containing information), the receiver (the brain) can now apparently change the structured information God sends us, and so the brain is not just a receiver but it can think for itself. If the brain can think for itself, then it must itself be conscious before receiving the information it can change.

DAVID: The consciousness of the universe is at the quantum level of reality. Everything is based on it. Remember, Penrose thinks consciousness is quantum activity in the brain.
http://nautil.us//issue/47/consciousness/roger-penrose-on-why-consciousness-does-not-co...
"The philosopher David Chalmers has speculated that consciousness may be a fundamental property of nature existing outside the known laws of physics. Others—often branded “mysterians”—claim that subjective experience is simply beyond the capacity of science to explain.

Chalmers’ speculation is a form of panpsychism. Nobody understands the “quantum level of reality”, so that doesn’t help us. And yes indeed, it will be beyond the capacity of science to explain if the materialistic hypothesis is incorrect.

I appreciate that you have gone to a great deal of trouble with the rest of your post, for which I am grateful, but it does not take us anywhere beyond this point. So let us focus on YOUR explanation to try and clarify what YOU mean by an “independent entity pervading the universe” and sending information to our brain. Please tell us, preferably without analogies and references to other people’s ideas, exactly what YOU think your God (I presume he is the “independent entity”) sends for the receiver to receive and decipher.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Monday, May 15, 2017, 15:33 (189 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: What is a “structured” consciousness as opposed to consciousness? What does “uses to consciousness” mean?

dhw: I appreciate that you have gone to a great deal of trouble with the rest of your post, for which I am grateful, but it does not take us anywhere beyond this point. So let us focus on YOUR explanation to try and clarify what YOU mean by an “independent entity pervading the universe” and sending information to our brain. Please tell us, preferably without analogies and references to other people’s ideas, exactly what YOU think your God (I presume he is the “independent entity”) sends for the receiver to receive and decipher.

I view the consciousness we receive as a structured mechanism (information structure) that the brain can learn to employ. And because there is a universal consciousness from which it comes, it survives transient death in NDE's. No one tells us how to think. We are free to use consciousness as we wish. And I do think quantum mechanics are involved in the structure, both at the brain level and the consciousness level, as shown by the late choice quantum experiments.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Tuesday, May 16, 2017, 08:53 (189 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: I view the consciousness we receive as a structured mechanism (information structure) that the brain can learn to employ. And because there is a universal consciousness from which it comes, it survives transient death in NDE's. No one tells us how to think. We are free to use consciousness as we wish. And I do think quantum mechanics are involved in the structure, both at the brain level and the consciousness level, as shown by the late choice quantum experiments.

We are both wrestling with something that everybody else has equal difficulty with, and I appreciate this latest effort to clarify your ideas. I’ll try in turn to explain why I find them confusing, and perhaps you can correct any misinterpretations, but I must stress again that I am not taking sides in the materialism versus dualism debate. I am only trying to understand your own approach. NDE patients tell us that our consciousness survives the death of the brain, but during these experiences they are themselves – they retain all the information that makes them individual. And so consciousness cannot simply be a mechanism: it is the seat of all the attributes that make us ourselves - our memories, emotions, ideas etc. – and if you believe in free will, it must also be the decision-maker. So when you say “we are free etc.” what is this “we”? It can’t be the brain, if “we” survive the death of the brain. The implication of this whole scenario is that the brain provides information to consciousness, and then obeys the instructions of consciousness, and “we” are our consciousness with all the above information contained in it. In other words, the exact opposite of your opening statement: consciousness “employs” the brain and not the other way round.

This has implications for the problem of which came first: brain enlargement allowing function, or function enlarging the brain, but let’s go one step at a time.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Tuesday, May 16, 2017, 15:31 (188 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: And so consciousness cannot simply be a mechanism: it is the seat of all the attributes that make us ourselves - our memories, emotions, ideas etc. – and if you believe in free will, it must also be the decision-maker. So when you say “we are free etc.” what is this “we”? It can’t be the brain, if “we” survive the death of the brain. The implication of this whole scenario is that the brain provides information to consciousness, and then obeys the instructions of consciousness, and “we” are our consciousness with all the above information contained in it. In other words, the exact opposite of your opening statement: consciousness “employs” the brain and not the other way round.

Consciousness allows us to form a sense of self. That is obvious. We use consciousness. It doesn't dictate to us. We dictate to ourselves. The brain stores memories which consciousness allows us to create. A brain in a jar is not conscious. You are missing the back and forth between the human and his brain. They are a team. The baby experiences and is able to learn from them as he lives infancy and form opinions, ideas, personality. Consciousness allows all of this activity and its coalescence as self.


dhw: This has implications for the problem of which came first: brain enlargement allowing function, or function enlarging the brain, but let’s go one step at a time.

All of the evidence from studies of our ancestor fossils is brain enlargement allows certain levels of anthropologic activity. Each enlargement allowed more complex activity. 200,000 years ago sapiens activity was not what it is today , but the brain had arrived!

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Wednesday, May 17, 2017, 14:05 (188 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: And so consciousness cannot simply be a mechanism: it is the seat of all the attributes that make us ourselves - our memories, emotions, ideas etc. – and if you believe in free will, it must also be the decision-maker. So when you say “we are free etc.” what is this “we”? It can’t be the brain, if “we” survive the death of the brain. The implication of this whole scenario is that the brain provides information to consciousness, and then obeys the instructions of consciousness, and “we” are our consciousness with all the above information contained in it. In other words, the exact opposite of your opening statement: consciousness “employs” the brain and not the other way round.

DAVID: Consciousness allows us to form a sense of self. That is obvious. We use consciousness. It doesn't dictate to us. We dictate to ourselves. The brain stores memories which consciousness allows us to create. A brain in a jar is not conscious. You are missing the back and forth between the human and his brain. They are a team. The baby experiences and is able to learn from them as he lives infancy and form opinions, ideas, personality. Consciousness allows all of this activity and its coalescence as self.

You have left out the crucial introduction to what I wrote above: “I must stress again that I am not taking sides in the materialism versus dualism debate. I am only trying to understand your own approach. NDE patients tell us that our consciousness survives the death of the brain, but during these experiences they are themselves – they retain all the information that makes them individual.” In YOUR scenario (not mine, as I remain neutral) based on NDEs, “we” (the self) ARE our consciousness. There is no brain or body, no more "back and forth". And so if consciousness (the self) can exist independently of the brain, the “back and forth” in our lifetime can only consist in the brain providing consciousness with information, and consciousness then instructing the brain to control the rest of the body. Only if you reject the NDE scenario in which “we” (the self) exist as pure consciousness can you claim that the brain uses “us”/consciousness.

dhw: This has implications for the problem of which came first: brain enlargement allowing function, or function enlarging the brain, but let’s go one step at a time.
DAVID: All of the evidence from studies of our ancestor fossils is brain enlargement allows certain levels of anthropologic activity. Each enlargement allowed more complex activity. 200,000 years ago sapiens activity was not what it is today, but the brain had arrived!

The evidence shows that enlargement accompanied certain levels of activity. It cannot possibly tell us which came first: the enlargement allowing the activity or the need for the activity causing the enlargement. That is the big debate.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Wednesday, May 17, 2017, 15:33 (187 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: And so if consciousness (the self) can exist independently of the brain, the “back and forth” in our lifetime can only consist in the brain providing consciousness with information, and consciousness then instructing the brain to control the rest of the body. Only if you reject the NDE scenario in which “we” (the self) exist as pure consciousness can you claim that the brain uses “us”/consciousness.

I don't reject the NDE scenario. I consider consciousness as an entity which is received by our brain and is used by our brain. We don't know what consciousness is. It is not material. We experience it and work back and forth with it. All animals have the conscious activity and controls you mention above, but not the deeper self-awareness we enjoy. This has always implied to me a universal consciousness in which we all partake are varying levels.


dhw: This has implications for the problem of which came first: brain enlargement allowing function, or function enlarging the brain, but let’s go one step at a time.
DAVID: All of the evidence from studies of our ancestor fossils is brain enlargement allows certain levels of anthropologic activity. Each enlargement allowed more complex activity. 200,000 years ago sapiens activity was not what it is today, but the brain had arrived!

dhw: The evidence shows that enlargement accompanied certain levels of activity. It cannot possibly tell us which came first: the enlargement allowing the activity or the need for the activity causing the enlargement. That is the big debate.

I'm still insisting that speciation of a larger brain precedes any new extensive activity which is what the enlargement allows. This thought follows from the fact that the gaps from Lucy to habilis to erectus to us are huge with gaps from 400cc to 1,200cc with no itty bitty changes. Please remember 200,000 years ago we had 1,200cc, but how much did we use it back then? Obvious.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Thursday, May 18, 2017, 13:40 (187 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: And so if consciousness (the self) can exist independently of the brain, the “back and forth” in our lifetime can only consist in the brain providing consciousness with information, and consciousness then instructing the brain to control the rest of the body. Only if you reject the NDE scenario in which “we” (the self) exist as pure consciousness can you claim that the brain uses “us”/consciousness.
DAVID: I don't reject the NDE scenario. I consider consciousness as an entity which is received by our brain and is used by our brain. We don't know what consciousness is. It is not material. We experience it and work back and forth with it. All animals have the conscious activity and controls you mention above, but not the deeper self-awareness we enjoy. This has always implied to me a universal consciousness in which we all partake are varying levels.

You are jumping around like a cat on a hot tin roof in order to avoid the point I am making, which concerns the implications of your belief in the NDE scenario. In a nutshell: if you believe that our identity/”we”/the self, in the form of consciousness without body and brain, continues after death (as apparently experienced by NDE patients), then it can only be consciousness/”we”/the self that uses the brain, and not the other way round.(See below)

dhw: This has implications for the problem of which came first: brain enlargement allowing function, or function enlarging the brain
DAVID: All of the evidence from studies of our ancestor fossils is brain enlargement allows certain levels of anthropologic activity. Each enlargement allowed more complex activity. 200,000 years ago sapiens activity was not what it is today, but the brain had arrived!
dhw: The evidence shows that enlargement accompanied certain levels of activity. It cannot possibly tell us which came first: the enlargement allowing the activity or the need for the activity causing the enlargement. That is the big debate.

DAVID: I'm still insisting that speciation of a larger brain precedes any new extensive activity which is what the enlargement allows.

You always insist that your beliefs are correct, even when they are contradictory. If “we” are our consciousness (as per NDE experiences), which contains all our memories, feelings, thoughts and ideas, then how can the brain precede the IDEA of a particular new activity? Does the spade invent the idea of digging, or does the idea of digging invent the spade? With your NDE-based, immaterial identity, does the brain come up with new ideas, or does your consciousness (= you) come up with new ideas and use (and if necessary change) the brain as its tool to implement them? (Even now, though on a very minor scale, we/our consciousness can make changes to brain and body through exercises that activate the neurons or enlarge the muscles.)

DAVID: This thought follows from the fact that the gaps from Lucy to habilis to erectus to us are huge with gaps from 400cc to 1,200cc with no itty bitty changes. Please remember 200,000 years ago we had 1,200cc, but how much did we use it back then? Obvious.

I’m not sure how your question supports your claim that the brain uses us/our consciousness. As regards itty bitty changes, like you, I can only rely on what the experts tell us about the evolution of the human brain. Wikipedia disagrees with you:

Evolution of the brain - Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_the_brain

The evolutionary history of the human brain shows primarily a gradually bigger brain relative to body size during the evolutionary path from early primates to hominids and finally to Homo sapiens. Human brain size has been trending upwards since 2 million years ago, with a 3 factor increase. Early australopithecine brains were little larger than chimpanzee brains. The increase has been seen as larger human brain volume as we progressed along the human timeline of evolution (see Homininae), starting from about 600 cm3 in Homo habilis up to 1736 cm3 in Homo neanderthalensis which is the hominid with the biggest brain size. The increase in brain size topped with neanderthals; since then the average brain size has been shrinking over the past 28,000 years. The male brain has decreased from 1,500 cm3 to 1,350 cm3 while the female brain has shrunk by the same relative proportion.[1] (My bold)

Apparently this shrinkage may be accounted for by more efficient arrangement and wiring, which I would suggest offers an answer to your last question. Clearly the brain cannot go on growing indefinitely, and so in order to accommodate the increasing demands of consciousness (I’m still following your dualist NDE line of thinking) it has to complexify its inner workings.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Thursday, May 18, 2017, 15:17 (186 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: You are jumping around like a cat on a hot tin roof in order to avoid the point I am making, which concerns the implications of your belief in the NDE scenario. In a nutshell: if you believe that our identity/”we”/the self, in the form of consciousness without body and brain, continues after death (as apparently experienced by NDE patients), then it can only be consciousness/”we”/the self that uses the brain, and not the other way round.

In NDE our consciousness which is our 'self' continues as an entity and returns to the brain when the brain returns to a physical living state to receive it. I am in control of my consciousness. I have free will. You are arguing that I don't. I use my consciousness. It does not use me as I am free to form my conscious self any way I want. The newborn with its partially formed brain is barely conscious, and has to learn to be self-aware. The relationship between brain and consciousness has to evolve over time. The attributes of consciousness are there for the taking and dev eloping and we do it as we mature.


DAVID: This thought follows from the fact that the gaps from Lucy to habilis to erectus to us are huge with gaps from 400cc to 1,200cc with no itty bitty changes. Please remember 200,000 years ago we had 1,200cc, but how much did we use it back then? Obvious.

dhw: I’m not sure how your question supports your claim that the brain uses us/our consciousness. As regards itty bitty changes, like you, I can only rely on what the experts tell us about the evolution of the human brain. Wikipedia disagrees with you:

Evolution of the brain - Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_the_brain

The evolutionary history of the human brain shows primarily a gradually bigger brain relative to body size during the evolutionary path from early primates to hominids and finally to Homo sapiens. Human brain size has been trending upwards since 2 million years ago, with a 3 factor increase. Early australopithecine brains were little larger than chimpanzee brains. The increase has been seen as larger human brain volume as we progressed along the human timeline of evolution (see Homininae), starting from about 600 cm3 in Homo habilis up to 1736 cm3 in Homo neanderthalensis which is the hominid with the biggest brain size. The increase in brain size topped with neanderthals; since then the average brain size has been shrinking over the past 28,000 years. The male brain has decreased from 1,500 cm3 to 1,350 cm3 while the female brain has shrunk by the same relative proportion.[1] (My bold)

Apparently this shrinkage may be accounted for by more efficient arrangement and wiring, which I would suggest offers an answer to your last question. Clearly the brain cannot go on growing indefinitely, and so in order to accommodate the increasing demands of consciousness (I’m still following your dualist NDE line of thinking) it has to complexify its inner workings.

I don't see that Wiki disagrees with me. The size of brain statements are correct and your final statement is quite correct. I'm saying size first, use second, and your paragraph above supports that concept.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Friday, May 19, 2017, 12:53 (186 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: In a nutshell: if you believe that our identity/”we”/the self, in the form of consciousness without body and brain, continues after death (as apparently experienced by NDE patients), then it can only be consciousness/”we”/the self that uses the brain, and not the other way round.
DAVID: In NDE our consciousness which is our 'self' continues as an entity and returns to the brain when the brain returns to a physical living state to receive it.

The return is irrelevant. You have always used NDEs to support your belief in dualism and in an afterlife in which you will retain your identity. Without brain and body that identity can only be your consciousness.

DAVID: I am in control of my consciousness. I have free will. You are arguing that I don't. I use my consciousness. It does not use me as I am free to form my conscious self any way I want.

I did not say your consciousness used you! You keep telling us that your brain uses your consciousness instead of the other way round. You are ignoring the point I keep making over and over again: if you believe there is an afterlife in which your identity survives (as reported by NDE patients), the “I” you keep talking about IS your consciousness. And if consciousness is not produced by the brain (= materialism), then it is your consciousness (you) that uses the brain (which provides information to and obeys instructions from your consciousness).

DAVID: This thought follows from the fact that the gaps from Lucy to habilis to erectus to us are huge with gaps from 400cc to 1,200cc with no itty bitty changes. Please remember 200,000 years ago we had 1,200cc, but how much did we use it back then? Obvious.
dhw: I’m not sure how your question supports your claim that the brain uses us/our consciousness. As regards itty bitty changes, like you, I can only rely on what the experts tell us about the evolution of the human brain. Wikipedia disagrees with you:
Evolution of the brain - Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_the_brain

"The evolutionary history of the human brain shows primarily a gradually bigger brain relative to body size during the evolutionary path from early primates to hominids and finally to Homo sapiens. […] The male brain has decreased from 1,500 cm3 to 1,350 cm3 while the female brain has shrunk by the same relative proportion." (My bold)
dhw: Apparently this shrinkage may be accounted for by more efficient arrangement and wiring, which I would suggest offers an answer to your last question. Clearly the brain cannot go on growing indefinitely, and so in order to accommodate the increasing demands of consciousness (I’m still following your dualist NDE line of thinking) it has to complexify its inner workings.

DAVID: I don't see that Wiki disagrees with me. The size of brain statements are correct and your final statement is quite correct. I'm saying size first, use second, and your paragraph above supports that concept.

Firstly, it contradicts your claim that development of brain size was NOT gradual (no “itty bitty changes”). Secondly, my statement could hardly be clearer: the brain grows in order to accommodate the increasing demands of consciousness, i.e. the demands come first, and then the brain grows in order to fulfil them. But you are perhaps missing one stage in the process I am proposing as a logical outcome of your dualism: 1) consciousness/you/your “self” makes the demands; 2) the brain expands to meet the demands; 3) the demands are met. Demands are the cause, and expansion is the effect. Your proposal, if I have understood it correctly, is that the brain expands first (God doing a dabble?) and then…what? It tells consciousness/you/your “self” that you can do something you never did before? Expansion is then the cause and new ideas are the effect. As above, that would work with the materialist view that consciousness is engendered by the brain, which would mean (part of) the brain tells (part of) the brain what do to. But I don’t see how it can possibly work with your dualist view as epitomized by your belief in an afterlife without brain and body.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Friday, May 19, 2017, 15:11 (185 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: You keep telling us that your brain uses your consciousness instead of the other way round. You are ignoring the point I keep making over and over again: if you believe there is an afterlife in which your identity survives (as reported by NDE patients), the “I” you keep talking about IS your consciousness. And if consciousness is not produced by the brain (= materialism), then it is your consciousness (you) that uses the brain (which provides information to and obeys instructions from your consciousness).

I don't know why you don't understand the concept of the brain as a receiver. When the brain cannot function, as in an NDE, it stops receiving consciousness, which returns when it can receive it. The brain uses consciousness as a function to work with.


DAVID: I don't see that Wiki disagrees with me. The size of brain statements are correct and your final statement is quite correct. I'm saying size first, use second, and your paragraph above supports that concept.

dhw: Firstly, it contradicts your claim that development of brain size was NOT gradual (no “itty bitty changes”).

Where is it mentioned that each hominin brain vault size doesn't show significant enlargement in each stage?

dhw: Secondly, my statement could hardly be clearer: the brain grows in order to accommodate the increasing demands of consciousness, i.e. the demands come first, and then the brain grows in order to fulfil them. But you are perhaps missing one stage in the process I am proposing as a logical outcome of your dualism: 1) consciousness/you/your “self” makes the demands; 2) the brain expands to meet the demands; 3) the demands are met. Demands are the cause, and expansion is the effect. Your proposal, if I have understood it correctly, is that the brain expands first (God doing a dabble?) and then…what? It tells consciousness/you/your “self” that you can do something you never did before? Expansion is then the cause and new ideas are the effect. As above, that would work with the materialist view that consciousness is engendered by the brain, which would mean (part of) the brain tells (part of) the brain what do to. But I don’t see how it can possibly work with your dualist view as epitomized by your belief in an afterlife without brain and body.

In my dualist view the enlarged brain allows for further exploration and development of use of functions allowed by consciousness. My 'self' forms within my consciousness as I use it. In the infant it starts as a tabla rasa, totally blank except for muscular controls and automatic instincts, suckling, breathing pooping, etc. Size of brain allows expanded use of consciousness. Size of consciousness cannot be considered. It is not material. Each new size in the human evolution allowed much larger conceptualizations to be achieved. Human brain size is 200,000 years old, but use of consciousness now is much larger than at that time. Just consider the appearance of language, only 50,000 years ago, as one supreme example.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Saturday, May 20, 2017, 09:12 (185 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: I don't know why you don't understand the concept of the brain as a receiver. When the brain cannot function, as in an NDE, it stops receiving consciousness, which returns when it can receive it. The brain uses consciousness as a function to work with.

Of course I understand it, and if the brain is a receiver, it does not generate concepts (see below) – it receives them! You keep ignoring your own belief in an afterlife in which you survive as your conscious self without your brain. If you are YOU without a brain, it makes no sense to argue that the brain USES your consciousness (= YOU). It has to be the other way round.

DAVID: I don't see that Wiki disagrees with me.
dhw: …it contradicts your claim that development of brain size was NOT gradual (no “itty bitty changes”).
DAVID: Where is it mentioned that each hominin brain vault size doesn't show significant enlargement in each stage?

When it says that the history shows “a gradually bigger brain…during the evolutionary path from early primates to hominids and finally to Homo sapiens”, I presume it means an enlargement at each stage.

DAVID: In my dualist view the enlarged brain allows for further exploration and development of use of functions allowed by consciousness.

What do you mean by “functions allowed” by consciousness? In my view, whether dualist or materialist, it is consciousness that invents (not allows) the functions and instructs (not allows) the brain to perform them.

DAVID: My 'self' forms within my consciousness as I use it. In the infant it starts as a tabla rasa, totally blank except for muscular controls and automatic instincts, suckling, breathing pooping, etc. Size of brain allows expanded use of consciousness. Size of consciousness cannot be considered. It is not material. Each new size in the human evolution allowed much larger conceptualizations to be achieved. Human brain size is 200,000 years old, but use of consciousness now is much larger than at that time. Just consider the appearance of language, only 50,000 years ago, as one supreme example.

I agree with most of this.Obviously the expanded brain is necessary to perform the tasks invented by consciousness, and language is indeed a prime example. Did the need for better communication engender the changes in the anatomy, or did the changed anatomy engender the need for better communication? You have summed up the relationship between brain and consciousness yourself: “Each new size in the human evolution allowed much larger conceptualizations to be achieved.” (My bold) Did larger conceptualizations cause the new size in order to attain achievement, or did the new size cause the conceptualizations? If you believe that the brain is the RECEIVER of concepts, which are the PRODUCT of a consciousness that can exist independently of the brain (as per NDEs), I don’t see how at the same time you can believe that consciousness depends on a larger brain to enlarge its concepts. Enlarged concepts therefore give birth to the enlargement of the tool that implements them (the brain), just as the concept of digging leads to the spade. And so in your dualist scenario, consciousness uses the brain, and not the other way round.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Saturday, May 20, 2017, 15:55 (184 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: Of course I understand it, and if the brain is a receiver, it does not generate concepts (see below) – it receives them! You keep ignoring your own belief in an afterlife in which you survive as your conscious self without your brain. If you are YOU without a brain, it makes no sense to argue that the brain USES your consciousness (= YOU). It has to be the other way round.

My concept of me=self comes from consciousness, which I view as a dualist as a separate mechanism from my meaty wet brain. I form ME as my brain uses my consciousness. That Me=consciousness separates during NDE's intact and returns when the brain can receive it again. It is probably a quantum construct as shown by late choice experimentation in which consciousness dictates the results of the test.

DAVID: Where is it mentioned that each hominin brain vault size doesn't show significant enlargement in each stage?


dhw: When it says that the history shows “a gradually bigger brain…during the evolutionary path from early primates to hominids and finally to Homo sapiens”, I presume it means an enlargement at each stage.

Each change in brain size is 200cc or more. The word gradual to me refers to the time of evolution over 2+ billion years from Lucy onward.


DAVID: In my dualist view the enlarged brain allows for further exploration and development of use of functions allowed by consciousness.

dhw: What do you mean by “functions allowed” by consciousness? In my view, whether dualist or materialist, it is consciousness that invents (not allows) the functions and instructs (not allows) the brain to perform them.

I view consciousness as an instrument the brain plays. I am discussing areas of thought in this approach. No advanced math 200,000 years ago. As humans generally advanced, language appeared and advanced thought appeared. The boundaries of our inner self enlarged with time. That is my concept of 'functions allowed'. The hunter-gatherer did only that.


DAVID: My 'self' forms within my consciousness as I use it. In the infant it starts as a tabla rasa, totally blank except for muscular controls and automatic instincts, suckling, breathing pooping, etc. Size of brain allows expanded use of consciousness. Size of consciousness cannot be considered. It is not material. Each new size in the human evolution allowed much larger conceptualizations to be achieved. Human brain size is 200,000 years old, but use of consciousness now is much larger than at that time. Just consider the appearance of language, only 50,000 years ago, as one supreme example.

dhw: I agree with most of this.Obviously the expanded brain is necessary to perform the tasks invented by consciousness, and language is indeed a prime example. Did the need for better communication engender the changes in the anatomy, or did the changed anatomy engender the need for better communication? You have summed up the relationship between brain and consciousness yourself: “Each new size in the human evolution allowed much larger conceptualizations to be achieved.” (My bold) Did larger conceptualizations cause the new size in order to attain achievement, or did the new size cause the conceptualizations? If you believe that the brain is the RECEIVER of concepts, which are the PRODUCT of a consciousness that can exist independently of the brain (as per NDEs), I don’t see how at the same time you can believe that consciousness depends on a larger brain to enlarge its concepts. Enlarged concepts therefore give birth to the enlargement of the tool that implements them (the brain), just as the concept of digging leads to the spade. And so in your dualist scenario, consciousness uses the brain, and not the other way round.

Your discussion is entirely backward from my concept. Size first then the ability to conceptualize. Consciousness only delivers the ability to develop concepts through thought. Consciousness has no concepts of its own, I do. There are two sides: consciousness as a mechanism and consciousness=my self image which I develop from childhood.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Sunday, May 21, 2017, 15:24 (183 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Where is it mentioned that each hominin brain vault size doesn't show significant enlargement in each stage?
dhw: When it says that the history shows “a gradually bigger brain…during the evolutionary path from early primates to hominids and finally to Homo sapiens”, I presume it means an enlargement at each stage.
DAVID: Each change in brain size is 200cc or more. The word gradual to me refers to the time of evolution over 2+ billion years from Lucy onward.

Yes, “gradual” involves changes that cover a long period of time. Shall we get on with the main issue of your materialistic interpretation of dualism?

DAVID: My concept of me=self comes from consciousness, which I view as a dualist as a separate mechanism from my meaty wet brain. I form ME as my brain uses my consciousness. That Me=consciousness separates during NDE's intact and returns when the brain can receive it again. It is probably a quantum construct as shown by late choice experimentation in which consciousness dictates the results of the test.

You keep harping on about the return. Do you or do you not believe that after your actual physical death, you/your consciousness will survive with identity intact as David Turell? See below for the implications of your reply.

DAVID: I view consciousness as an instrument the brain plays. I am discussing areas of thought in this approach. No advanced math 200,000 years ago. As humans generally advanced, language appeared and advanced thought appeared. The boundaries of our inner self enlarged with time. That is my concept of 'functions allowed'. The hunter-gatherer did only that.

There is no disagreement over the advancement of thought. But if you believe that consciousness survives the death of the brain, and you do not believe that the brain is the source of thought (= materialism), then it can only be that consciousness uses the brain to acquire information and to translate thought into action.

DAVID: Your discussion is entirely backward from my concept. Size first then the ability to conceptualize. Consciousness only delivers the ability to develop concepts through thought. Consciousness has no concepts of its own, I do.

According to your dualism and what I presume is your belief in an afterlife, “you” ARE your consciousness, as you acknowledge in a moment. Thought is the product of your consciousness, not of your brain. If brainless consciousness cannot think, then you will have to abandon your belief in an afterlife as yourself.

DAVID: There are two sides: consciousness as a mechanism and consciousness=my self image which I develop from childhood.

Precisely. According to you (I remain neutral), consciousness is both the (immaterial) mechanism that generates thought (including concepts) and the “self” (containing all the thoughts and concepts it has generated) which develops and ultimately survives. It is consciousness as mechanism and self that uses the brain, which RECEIVES concepts and instructions. According to you, then, does the receiver brain say to you/consciousness, “Here are the tools, so now talk a new language”, or do you/your consciousness say to the receiver brain, “I want to talk a new language, so give me the tools”? In other words, which comes first – the tools or the concept?

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Sunday, May 21, 2017, 19:02 (183 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: You keep harping on about the return. Do you or do you not believe that after your actual physical death, you/your consciousness will survive with identity intact as David Turell? See below for the implications of your reply.

In the afterlife, yes.


DAVID: I view consciousness as an instrument the brain plays. I am discussing areas of thought in this approach. No advanced math 200,000 years ago. As humans generally advanced, language appeared and advanced thought appeared. The boundaries of our inner self enlarged with time. That is my concept of 'functions allowed'. The hunter-gatherer did only that.

dhw: There is no disagreement over the advancement of thought. But if you believe that consciousness survives the death of the brain, and you do not believe that the brain is the source of thought (= materialism), then it can only be that consciousness uses the brain to acquire information and to translate thought into action.

I am the source of thought using my brain through my consciousness. Why do you separate everything?


DAVID: Your discussion is entirely backward from my concept. Size first then the ability to conceptualize. Consciousness only delivers the ability to develop concepts through thought. Consciousness has no concepts of its own, I do.

dhw: According to your dualism and what I presume is your belief in an afterlife, “you” ARE your consciousness, as you acknowledge in a moment. Thought is the product of your consciousness, not of your brain. If brainless consciousness cannot think, then you will have to abandon your belief in an afterlife as yourself.

Once again you separate everything as if they don't interlock. Brainless consciousness does think in NDE's and the memories are brought back.


DAVID: There are two sides: consciousness as a mechanism and consciousness=my self image which I develop from childhood.

dhw: Precisely. According to you (I remain neutral), consciousness is both the (immaterial) mechanism that generates thought (including concepts) and the “self” (containing all the thoughts and concepts it has generated) which develops and ultimately survives. It is consciousness as mechanism and self that uses the brain, which RECEIVES concepts and instructions. According to you, then, does the receiver brain say to you/consciousness, “Here are the tools, so now talk a new language”, or do you/your consciousness say to the receiver brain, “I want to talk a new language, so give me the tools”? In other words, which comes first – the tools or the concept?

As a newborn I'm given the tools as my brain develops and accepts the receipt of consciousness which it then uses, creating my personality, my concept of self.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Monday, May 22, 2017, 13:01 (183 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: You keep harping on about the return. Do you or do you not believe that after your actual physical death, you/your consciousness will survive with identity intact as David Turell? See below for the implications of your reply.
DAVID: In the afterlife, yes.
dhw: …if you believe that consciousness survives the death of the brain, and you do not believe that the brain is the source of thought (= materialism), then it can only be that consciousness uses the brain to acquire information and to translate thought into action.
DAVID: I am the source of thought using my brain through my consciousness. Why do you separate everything? [dhw's bold]

It is you who are separating your “self” from your consciousness, although you believe that there is an afterlife in which your “self” is nothing but your consciousness. The whole point of dualism is the separation of mind and body: mind goes with consciousness and brain goes with body. According to you, the mind survives the death of the body, so “you” are your mind/consciousness and yes, yes, yes, you/your mind/your consciousness are “the source of thought, using your brain”. The brain does not use you/your mind/ your consciousness.

dhw: If brainless consciousness cannot think, then you will have to abandon your belief in an afterlife as yourself.
DAVID: Once again you separate everything as if they don't interlock. Brainless consciousness does think in NDE's and the memories are brought back.

As above. If you believe that the brain and consciousness are interlocked, i.e. consciousness cannot exist without the brain, out goes your afterlife, and in comes materialism.

DAVID: There are two sides: consciousness as a mechanism and consciousness=my self image which I develop from childhood.
dhw: Precisely. According to you (I remain neutral), consciousness is both the (immaterial) mechanism that generates thought (including concepts) and the “self” (containing all the thoughts and concepts it has generated) which develops and ultimately survives. It is consciousness as mechanism and self that uses the brain, which RECEIVES concepts and instructions. According to you, then, does the receiver brain say to you/consciousness, “Here are the tools, so now talk a new language”, or do you/your consciousness say to the receiver brain, “I want to talk a new language, so give me the tools”? In other words, which comes first – the tools or the concept?
DAVID: As a newborn I'm given the tools as my brain develops and accepts the receipt of consciousness which it then uses, creating my personality, my concept of self.

The discussion concerns the enlargement of the brain. You say the brain got bigger, which gave rise to new concepts. I say that if you believe in dualism, it has to be the new concepts that triggered the enlargement of the brain. By the time you arrived on Planet Earth, the brain had already been enlarged. However, if you are convinced that your identity or self depends on how your mortal brain uses your consciousness then, alas, goodbye to mortal brain = goodbye to David.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Monday, May 22, 2017, 19:49 (182 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: If brainless consciousness cannot think, then you will have to abandon your belief in an afterlife as yourself.
DAVID: Once again you separate everything as if they don't interlock. Brainless consciousness does think in NDE's and the memories are brought back.

dhw: As above. If you believe that the brain and consciousness are interlocked, i.e. consciousness cannot exist without the brain, out goes your afterlife, and in comes materialism.

No. I believe, as I've stated, that there is a universal consciousness, a part of which can be used by the brain for use by the brain. My portion of that consciousness returns to universal consciousness after death and now is in the afterlife.

dhw: In other words, which comes first – the tools or the concept?[/i]

DAVID: As a newborn I'm given the tools as my brain develops and accepts the receipt of consciousness which it then uses, creating my personality, my concept of self.

dhw: The discussion concerns the enlargement of the brain. You say the brain got bigger, which gave rise to new concepts. I say that if you believe in dualism, it has to be the new concepts that triggered the enlargement of the brain. By the time you arrived on Planet Earth, the brain had already been enlarged.

The enlarged brain gave the ability to develop concepts through a more advanced form of thinking, that the more complex brain allowed using the receipt of consciousness ability. We had the ability 200,000 years ago to do advanced theoretical math, but only developed it in the past 300 years. Brain size first, concepts afterward.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Tuesday, May 23, 2017, 14:01 (182 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Once again you separate everything as if they don't interlock. Brainless consciousness does think in NDE's and the memories are brought back.
dhw: As above. If you believe that the brain and consciousness are interlocked, i.e. consciousness cannot exist without the brain, out goes your afterlife, and in comes materialism.
DAVID: No. I believe, as I've stated, that there is a universal consciousness, a part of which can be used by the brain for use by the brain. My portion of that consciousness returns to universal consciousness after death and now is in the afterlife.

I am trying hard to make sense of this, and I’ll take in stages. Presumably, then, your consciousness is a part of God. Your brain can use it so that it can use it. Difficult to follow. I keep pointing out that it is consciousness that uses the brain, but perhaps this double use of “use” is meant somehow to prove your contention that it is the other way round. When your brain dies, your bit of God returns to God, but – the factor you’ve left out – you believe you will still be the conscious you. And if you are still you, obviously consciousness/ you/your “self” and the brain are NOT interlocked.

dhw: The discussion concerns the enlargement of the brain. You say the brain got bigger, which gave rise to new concepts. I say that if you believe in dualism, it has to be the new concepts that triggered the enlargement of the brain. By the time you arrived on Planet Earth, the brain had already been enlarged.
DAVID: The enlarged brain gave the ability to develop concepts through a more advanced form of thinking, that the more complex brain allowed using the receipt of consciousness ability. We had the ability 200,000 years ago to do advanced theoretical math, but only developed it in the past 300 years. Brain size first, concepts afterward.

Two questions: Do you believe that the complexities of the brain gave rise to our enhanced consciousness? Do you believe the complexities of the brain gave rise to advanced theoretical math? If your answer is yes, you are a materialist (which is fine). If your answer is no, then please tell us what you think did give rise to our enhanced consciousness and to advanced theoretical math.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Tuesday, May 23, 2017, 17:46 (181 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: No. I believe, as I've stated, that there is a universal consciousness, a part of which can be used by the brain for use by the brain. My portion of that consciousness returns to universal consciousness after death and now is in the afterlife.

dhw: I am trying hard to make sense of this, and I’ll take in stages. Presumably, then, your consciousness is a part of God. Your brain can use it so that it can use it. Difficult to follow. I keep pointing out that it is consciousness that uses the brain, but perhaps this double use of “use” is meant somehow to prove your contention that it is the other way round. When your brain dies, your bit of God returns to God, but – the factor you’ve left out – you believe you will still be the conscious you. And if you are still you, obviously consciousness/ you/your “self” and the brain are NOT interlocked.

I view the brain as a receiver of consciousness, which the brain through my interaction with it uses as a mechanism for conceptualization and other higher thought patterns. Yes, I view my consciousness as the way I am made in God's image. Consciousness is at my command and does not use the brain. NDE's show there is not a rigid interlock of brain and consciousness.


dhw: Two questions: Do you believe that the complexities of the brain gave rise to our enhanced consciousness? Do you believe the complexities of the brain gave rise to advanced theoretical math? If your answer is yes, you are a materialist (which is fine). If your answer is no, then please tell us what you think did give rise to our enhanced consciousness and to advanced theoretical math.

The complexities of the human brain allows for a more complex use of the consciousness it receives. Humans have built up math knowledge from the simple invention of a number system. Note that current hunter-gatherers do not have a word for beyond the number five! But we know the capacity is there. Consciousness is not material. We hae the ability to expand its use as far as we can.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Wednesday, May 24, 2017, 13:26 (181 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: I view the brain as a receiver of consciousness, which the brain through my interaction with it uses as a mechanism for conceptualization […] Consciousness is at my command and does not use the brain. NDE's show there is not a rigid interlock of brain and consciousness.

Thank you for withdrawing your claim that the brain and consciousness are interlocked. Once again, please stop separating your identity (you, your self) from consciousness. According to your belief in dualism and NDEs, “you” survive as yourself in the form of consciousness without brain or body. You ARE your consciousness, which conceptualizes without the brain. The brain therefore does not use you/your consciousness for conceptualization; it is you/your consciousness that conceptualize, using information provided by the brain and body, and then using the brain and body to implement concepts that require implementation. The converse is the materialism you have rejected and concerning which I asked you two questions which you have not answered.

DAVID: The complexities of the human brain allows for a more complex use of the consciousness it receives. Humans have built up math knowledge from the simple invention of a number system. Note that current hunter-gatherers do not have a word for beyond the number five! But we know the capacity is there. Consciousness is not material. We have the ability to expand its use as far as we can.

All agreed. Perhaps you will now answer the questions I asked you: Do you believe that the complexities of the brain gave rise to our enhanced consciousness? Do you believe the complexities of the brain gave rise to advanced theoretical math? If your answer is yes, you are a materialist (which is fine). If your answer is no, then please tell us what you think did give rise to our enhanced consciousness and to advanced theoretical math.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Wednesday, May 24, 2017, 18:45 (180 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: The complexities of the human brain allows for a more complex use of the consciousness it receives. Humans have built up math knowledge from the simple invention of a number system. Note that current hunter-gatherers do not have a word for beyond the number five! But we know the capacity is there. Consciousness is not material. We have the ability to expand its use as far as we can.

dhw: All agreed. Perhaps you will now answer the questions I asked you: Do you believe that the complexities of the brain gave rise to our enhanced consciousness? Do you believe the complexities of the brain gave rise to advanced theoretical math? If your answer is yes, you are a materialist (which is fine). If your answer is no, then please tell us what you think did give rise to our enhanced consciousness and to advanced theoretical math.

To repeat, I don't think an H. habilis use of consciousness was as broad or effective or complete, as H. erectus, as H. neanderthalis or finally H. sapiens. Our use of consciousness must have become more enhanced as the brain became larger and more complex. It is a receiver, but I am not implying that there are lesser and more advanced levels of consciousness. Consciousness is a single entity, one level. The ability to use consciousness is what advances as the brain becomes more complex. You missed the point about hunter-gatherers. Cultural advancement plays a huge role. Newton and Leibniz had to invent calculus to get to where we are now in math. For the h-g's the capacity was always there. It is a matter of accumulating discoveries in thought and concepts. I am a dualist.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Thursday, May 25, 2017, 13:48 (180 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: Do you believe that the complexities of the brain gave rise to our enhanced consciousness? Do you believe the complexities of the brain gave rise to advanced theoretical math? If your answer is yes, you are a materialist (which is fine). If your answer is no, then please tell us what you think did give rise to our enhanced consciousness and to advanced theoretical math.

DAVID: To repeat, I don't think an H. habilis use of consciousness was as broad or effective or complete, as H. erectus, as H. neanderthalis or finally H. sapiens. Our use of consciousness must have become more enhanced as the brain became larger and more complex. It is a receiver, but I am not implying that there are lesser and more advanced levels of consciousness. Consciousness is a single entity, one level.

“Our use" once again separates identity from consciousness, which is not possible if you believe in an afterlife that preserves your conscious self. One level? Is your consciousness on the same level as your dog’s? What happened to self-awareness? And when you call your God a universal consciousness, do you mean his consciousness is on a level with yours and your dog’s?

The nature of each individual consciousness will certainly depend on what it is conscious of (e.g. culture) – and in earthly life, that means the information collected and provided by the brain. But for a dualist, it is consciousness and not the brain that processes and “uses” the information provided. A dog’s sense of smell sends far more information to its brain than ours does, but it can’t “use” the information as we do. If you think the cause of our enhanced ability to use the information is the complexity of our brains, that’s fine, but then you are a materialist. If you think it is due to our enhanced consciousness, you are a dualist. This is highlighted by your next comment.

DAVID: The ability to use consciousness is what advances as the brain becomes more complex. You missed the point about hunter-gatherers. Cultural advancement plays a huge role. Newton and Leibniz had to invent calculus to get to where we are now in math. For the h-g's the capacity was always there. It is a matter of accumulating discoveries in thought and concepts. I am a dualist.

I agree with all of this. But in terms of “use” and “ability”, Newton, Leibniz and the hunter-gatherers may well have had the same complex providers of information and obeyers of instructions (brains), but – according to dualists and afterlifers – it is the different consciousness mind/intelligence that has the ability to use the information to create the new thoughts and concepts, which in turn contribute to the identity of the conscious mind which you believe survives the death of the brain.

This whole discussion, however, is riddled with problems which I tried to resolve some time ago by reconciling dualism and materialism. I may return to that later.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Thursday, May 25, 2017, 19:06 (179 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: “Our use" once again separates identity from consciousness, which is not possible if you believe in an afterlife that preserves your conscious self. One level? Is your consciousness on the same level as your dog’s? What happened to self-awareness? And when you call your God a universal consciousness, do you mean his consciousness is on a level with yours and your dog’s?

Your confusion about my concepts is due to the fact that I have had no philosophic training in dualism or any other approach to consciousness. I am my consciousness, I'm not separate, but I view consciousness as a mechanism I use while I am within it.


dhw: If you think the cause of our enhanced ability to use the information is the complexity of our brains, that’s fine, but then you are a materialist. If you think it is due to our enhanced consciousness, you are a dualist. This is highlighted by your next comment.

My concept is that it is the complexity of our brain that allows us to receive a complex consciousness for our use:


DAVID: The ability to use consciousness is what advances as the brain becomes more complex. You missed the point about hunter-gatherers. Cultural advancement plays a huge role. Newton and Leibniz had to invent calculus to get to where we are now in math. For the h-g's the capacity was always there. It is a matter of accumulating discoveries in thought and concepts. I am a dualist. See my entry for today regarding the brain's ability to change helping illiterate women to read. Thursday, May 25, 2017, 18:53.

dhw: I agree with all of this. But in terms of “use” and “ability”, Newton, Leibniz and the hunter-gatherers may well have had the same complex providers of information and obeyers of instructions (brains), but – according to dualists and afterlifers – it is the different consciousness mind/intelligence that has the ability to use the information to create the new thoughts and concepts, which in turn contribute to the identity of the conscious mind which you believe survives the death of the brain.

This whole discussion, however, is riddled with problems which I tried to resolve some time ago by reconciling dualism and materialism. I may return to that later.

I don't know if you understand my view or not? My consciousness is me, but it is loaned to me until the afterlife when it leaves my body and returns to be part of the universal consciousness and I am 'me' as part of what I return to.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Friday, May 26, 2017, 13:56 (179 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: “Our use" once again separates identity from consciousness, which is not possible if you believe in an afterlife that preserves your conscious self. One level? Is your consciousness on the same level as your dog’s? What happened to self-awareness? And when you call your God a universal consciousness, do you mean his consciousness is on a level with yours and your dog’s?
DAVID: Your confusion about my concepts is due to the fact that I have had no philosophic training in dualism or any other approach to consciousness. I am my consciousness, I'm not separate, but I view consciousness as a mechanism I use while I am within it.

The confusion is not mine. If you agree that you are your consciousness, then you should stop trying to separate you from your consciousness when discussing whether the brain uses consciousness or consciousness uses the brain.
You said last time that there are no degrees or levels of consciousness, so do please answer the questions above.

dhw: If you think the cause of our enhanced ability to use the information is the complexity of our brains, that’s fine, but then you are a materialist. If you think it is due to our enhanced consciousness, you are a dualist.
DAVID: My concept is that it is the complexity of our brain that allows us to receive a complex consciousness for our use:

You have just agreed that you are your consciousness. So our complex brain allows our consciousness to receive our consciousness for our consciousness to use our consciousness. And you think I am confused about your concepts. Do you (your consciousness) use your brain, or does your brain use you (your consciousness)? Simple question. Please answer directly.

DAVID: A study of illiterate 30-year-old Indian women has shown they can learn to read quickly and the brain rewires itself in the process, since evolution has not prepared the brain for reading, although there is the preexisting speech area (Boca's):
https://www.newscientist.com/article/2132589-learning-to-read-and-write-rewires-adult-b...

QUOTE: "By the end of the study, the team saw significant changes in the brains of the people who had learned to read and write".
DAVID’s comment: It is obvious from this study that size and complexity come first and learned use is second, just as I hypothesize in the hominin brain development I've discussed. This study clearly shows brain size and complexity first, then learned use.

QUOTE: "The relatively young phenomenon of human literacy therefore changes brain regions that are very old in evolutionary terms and already core parts of mice and other mammalian brains." (David’s bold)
DAVID’s comment: Obviously I consider this a very important bit of evidence in deciding whether enlargement first and use second is the correct interpretation. Note my bolded area which indicates a very old evolutionary part of the brain is brought into play for a new use. The brain's ability to re-coordinate its connections is part of its plasticity. The neurologic abilities are there for the finding. Enlargement first!

The study shows very clearly that conscious effort (here, to read) can change the brain. It is the conscious effort that precedes and therefore causes the changes. However, the brain has, we presume, now reached a size beyond which it cannot go, and so the current changes take place within the already enlarged brain. So yes, the enlargement preceded all the changes that we see taking place NOW, and which would have taken place ever since the brain reached its present size. But the question is what caused the enlargement in the first place. The experiments show that it is not the brain which gives rise to new ideas (reading), but new ideas (reading) which change the brain. In other words, the brain changes in response to the new demands of consciousness. Why, then, if you believe that the brain is a RECEIVER and not a generator of consciousness, would the whole process be reversed in early humans and the brain change itself before consciousness makes its new demands? The experiments could hardly be clearer: demands come first, and they change the brain. Now it’s the “wiring”, but then it was the size.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Friday, May 26, 2017, 21:49 (178 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: “Our use" once again separates identity from consciousness, which is not possible if you believe in an afterlife that preserves your conscious self. One level? Is your consciousness on the same level as your dog’s? What happened to self-awareness? And when you call your God a universal consciousness, do you mean his consciousness is on a level with yours and your dog’s?
DAVID: Your confusion about my concepts is due to the fact that I have had no philosophic training in dualism or any other approach to consciousness. I am my consciousness, I'm not separate, but I view consciousness as a mechanism I use while I am within it.

The confusion is not mine. If you agree that you are your consciousness, then you should stop trying to separate you from your consciousness when discussing whether the brain uses consciousness or consciousness uses the brain.

dhw: You said last time that there are no degrees or levels of consciousness, so do please answer the questions above.

My level of consciousness is advanced and approaches God's. I don't know why you brought up my dog, which is why I skipped the question before. My dog is consciousness but has no ability for introspection or conceptualization. He has sensory input and intentionality of his activities. He can be trained to respond to word commands and to perform tricks. All of this is obvious.


dhw: If you think the cause of our enhanced ability to use the information is the complexity of our brains, that’s fine, but then you are a materialist. If you think it is due to our enhanced consciousness, you are a dualist.
DAVID: My concept is that it is the complexity of our brain that allows us to receive a complex consciousness for our use:

dhw: You have just agreed that you are your consciousness. So our complex brain allows our consciousness to receive our consciousness for our consciousness to use our consciousness. And you think I am confused about your concepts. Do you (your consciousness) use your brain, or does your brain use you (your consciousness)? Simple question. Please answer directly.

I've said it before, my brain receives the mechanism of consciousness for my use of it. A concept taken from the current interpretation of NDE's by the authors I've read.


DAVID: A study of illiterate 30-year-old Indian women has shown they can learn to read quickly and the brain rewires itself in the process, since evolution has not prepared the brain for reading, although there is the preexisting speech area (Broca's):

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2132589-learning-to-read-and-write-rewires-adult-b...

dhw: The study shows very clearly that conscious effort (here, to read) can change the brain. It is the conscious effort that precedes and therefore causes the changes. However, the brain has, we presume, now reached a size beyond which it cannot go, and so the current changes take place within the already enlarged brain. So yes, the enlargement preceded all the changes that we see taking place NOW, and which would have taken place ever since the brain reached its present size. But the question is what caused the enlargement in the first place. The experiments show that it is not the brain which gives rise to new ideas (reading), but new ideas (reading) which change the brain. In other words, the brain changes in response to the new demands of consciousness. Why, then, if you believe that the brain is a RECEIVER and not a generator of consciousness, would the whole process be reversed in early humans and the brain change itself before consciousness makes its new demands? The experiments could hardly be clearer: demands come first, and they change the brain. Now it’s the “wiring”, but then it was the size.

Your puzzlement is because you don't recognize a giant brain grew before lots of its uses hadn't been invented yet! This study is one great example. The Neanderthal brain was larger than ours, but I think they didn't figure out how to use it like we did, and we survived. Perhaps it wasn't quite as complex. Both size and complexity are different aspects. Recently our brain size has shrunk slightly (in the last 50,000 years) but we are brighter than never. The hominin brain received consciousness and as it grew in size it could learn to handle more and more complex ideations and stimuli, recently like reading and writing in the past 3,000 years, but not before. Size and complexity first, use second.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Saturday, May 27, 2017, 12:13 (178 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: …when you call your God a universal consciousness, do you mean his consciousness is on a level with yours and your dog’s?
David: My level of consciousness is advanced and approaches God's. I don't know why you brought up my dog, which is why I skipped the question before. My dog is consciousness but has no ability for introspection or conceptualization… etc.

On 25 May you wrote: “I am not implying that there are lesser and more advanced levels of consciousness. Consciousness is a single entity, one level.” Now you say your level is advanced and approaches God’s, and clearly your dog has a lower level. So what did you mean by your statement on 25 May?

dhw: Do you (your consciousness) use your brain, or does your brain use you (your consciousness)? Simple question. Please answer directly.
DAVID: I've said it before, my brain receives the mechanism of consciousness for my use of it.

Yes, you keep saying it. I wrote: “If you agree that you are your consciousness, then you should stop trying to separate you from your consciousness when discussing whether the brain uses consciousness or consciousness uses the brain.” Your latest statement means my brain receives the mechanism of my consciousness for my consciousness to use my consciousness. More confusion. Why won’t you answer my simple question?

DAVID: A study of illiterate 30-year-old Indian women has shown they can learn to read quickly and the brain rewires itself in the process, since evolution has not prepared the brain for reading, although there is the preexisting speech area (Broca's):
https://www.newscientist.com/article/2132589-learning-to-read-and-write-rewires-adult-b...

dhw: The study shows very clearly that conscious effort (here, to read) can change the brain. It is the conscious effort that precedes and therefore causes the changes. However, the brain has, we presume, now reached a size beyond which it cannot go, and so the current changes take place within the already enlarged brain. So yes, the enlargement preceded all the changes that we see taking place NOW, and which would have taken place ever since the brain reached its present size. But the question is what caused the enlargement in the first place... etc.
DAVID: Your puzzlement is because you don't recognize a giant brain grew before lots of its uses hadn't been invented yet! This study is one great example.

There is no puzzlement. You don’t seem to have recognized that this study shows usage influencing the brain, not the other way round. Once the brain had reached its optimum size, the changes had to be to the “wiring”, not to the size. The more “uses” we invent, the more complex the “wiring”. Yes, the large brain preceded all these newer uses, but what enlarged the brain in the first place? If new concepts change the brain NOW, as the study clearly shows, I can only ask as I did before, why would the process be reversed for early humans, with changes preceding concepts?

DAVID: […]The hominin brain received consciousness and as it grew in size it could learn to handle more and more complex ideations and stimuli, recently like reading and writing in the past 3,000 years, but not before. Size and complexity first, use second. (Dhw’s bold)

Yes, the brain learns to handle more and more complex ideas by changing itself in order to accommodate them. It doesn’t create them. The brain did not say to the human: Here are the tools, so now read and write. The human said to the brain: I want to read and write, and THEN the brain changed. That is what the study tells us quite unequivocally, and what YOU tell us when commenting on another study:

https://cosmosmagazine.com/biology/networks-form-as-brains-develop

QUOTE: "As children grow up – moving through adolescence and into young adulthood – their ability to control their impulses, stay organised and make decisions improves dramatically.”
According to a new study published in Current Biology, those improvements result from the development of distinct networks within the brain.”
(dhw's bold)

DAVID’s comment:This study shows the intimate interconnection of our developing 'self' and how our brain changes to accommodate the integration of experience and responses. These changes are automatic but also cooperative as personality develops. We do develop ourselves. Consciousness and personality are immaterial, but based on the plasticity of the brain to fully develop and experience. (dhw’s bold)

The quote is unequivocal. If psychological improvements RESULT from changes in the brain, you have pure materialism (which may be right – I’m not taking sides). Your own comment suggests the exact opposite: we are our consciousness and personality, and the brain changes in order to accommodate the workings of immaterial consciousness and does not cause them. So why won’t you just have done with it and agree that according to your own scheme of things, consciousness uses and changes the brain, and not the other way round?

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Saturday, May 27, 2017, 19:03 (177 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: …when you call your God a universal consciousness, do you mean his consciousness is on a level with yours and your dog’s?
David: My level of consciousness is advanced and approaches God's. I don't know why you brought up my dog, which is why I skipped the question before. My dog is consciousness but has no ability for introspection or conceptualization… etc.

On 25 May you wrote: “I am not implying that there are lesser and more advanced levels of consciousness. Consciousness is a single entity, one level.” Now you say your level is advanced and approaches God’s, and clearly your dog has a lower level. So what did you mean by your statement on 25 May?

My May 25th statement means my brain receives consciousness to use as one unit. My rain enlargers and becomes more complex from infanthood. As I grow from childhood and mold my personality and approach to life, I use my consciousness from simple thoughts to very complex. I developed learned processes, like the typing at this moment. Under the use of my consciousness my brain responds to develop new connections. The whole thing is seamless: me, self, brain, consciousness.


dhw: Yes, you keep saying it. I wrote: “If you agree that you are your consciousness, then you should stop trying to separate you from your consciousness when discussing whether the brain uses consciousness or consciousness uses the brain.” Your latest statement means my brain receives the mechanism of my consciousness for my consciousness to use my consciousness. More confusion. Why won’t you answer my simple question?

We are discussing at two different understanding levels, and I'm not explaining it well to you. does the above paragraph of mine help?

DAVID: Your puzzlement is because you don't recognize a giant brain grew before lots of its uses hadn't been invented yet! This study is one great example.

dhw: There is no puzzlement. You don’t seem to have recognized that this study shows usage influencing the brain, not the other way round. Once the brain had reached its optimum size, the changes had to be to the “wiring”, not to the size. The more “uses” we invent, the more complex the “wiring”. Yes, the large brain preceded all these newer uses, but what enlarged the brain in the first place?

Exactly the point: If an enlarged brain came first with parts basically unused, because thoughts and activities hadn't been invented as yet, then its plasticity allowed for it to adapt as the mental discoveries advanced.

dhw: If new concepts change the brain NOW, as the study clearly shows, I can only ask as I did before, why would the process be reversed for early humans, with changes preceding concepts?

The gaps in evolution firmly predict change first. use second.

DAVID’s comment:This study shows the intimate interconnection of our developing 'self' and how our brain changes to accommodate the integration of experience and responses. These changes are automatic but also cooperative as personality develops. We do develop ourselves. Consciousness and personality are immaterial, but based on the plasticity of the brain to fully develop and experience. (dhw’s bold)

dhw: The quote is unequivocal. If psychological improvements RESULT from changes in the brain, you have pure materialism (which may be right – I’m not taking sides). Your own comment suggests the exact opposite: we are our consciousness and personality, and the brain changes in order to accommodate the workings of immaterial consciousness and does not cause them. So why won’t you just have done with it and agree that according to your own scheme of things, consciousness uses and changes the brain, and not the other way round?

True, but it is under the seamless control of me!

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Saturday, May 27, 2017, 23:32 (177 days ago) @ David Turell

My size first, use second of the brain, still fits what I see as evolutionary history. H sapiens arrived 200,000 years ago with a big jump of 200 cc in brain size. No evidence of new use gradually prodding the plastic brain to change. The key is recognizing the gap in size. Note the progression until now. The stone age, the bronze age, the appearance of complex language from simplistic language estimated for H. habilis and H. erectus (from The Ape That Spoke I've quoted). dhw is not taking into account the totality of the picture presented in the large-gapped human evolution. Stimulation of brain size by attempting new practices would result in tiny changes between new species. Of course a new size implies a causing mechanism. dhw can't find one. I posit God. so we are on opposite sides of his picket fence.

Look at the capacity of the brain with language: first spoken words by honinins, the modern complex language,perhaps 50,000 years ago, then symbols of alphabet (recent), then reading and writing, all of which the brain quickly accommodates as these concepts are developed. And even the development of 'click' languages of the Kalahari desert of Africa, or now the study on whistled languages:

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170525-the-people-who-speak-in-whistles

If you are ever lucky enough to visit the foothills of the Himalayas, you may hear a remarkable duet ringing through the forest. To the untrained ear, it might sound like musicians warming up a strange instrument. In reality, the enchanting melody is the sound of two lovers talking in a secret, whistled language.

Joining just a handful of other communities, the Hmong people can speak in whistles. The sounds normally allow farmers to chat across their fields and hunters to call to each in their forest. But their language is perhaps most beautifully expressed during a now rarely-performed act of courtship, when boys wander through the nearby villages at nightfall, whistling their favourite poems between the houses. If a girl responds, the couple then start a flirty dialogue.

***
The practice not only highlights humanity’s amazing linguistic diversity; it may also help us to understand the limits of human communication. In most languages, whistles are used for little more than calling attention; they seem too simple to carry much meaning. But Meyer has now identified more than 70 groups across the world who can use whistles to express themselves with all the flexibility of normal speech.

These mysterious languages demonstrate the brain’s astonishing capacity to decode information from new signals – with insights that are causing some neuroscientists to rethink the fundamental organisation of the brain. The research may even shed light on the emergence of language itself. According to one hypothesis, our first words may have sounded something like the Hmong’s courtship songs. (my bold)

***
whistled signals could have begun as a musical protolanguage, and as they became more complex and imbued with meaning, they could have also helped coordinate hunting and foraging. After all, Meyer’s research certainly suggests that whistling is ideal for communicating over distance and avoiding the attention of predators and prey – advantages that would have helped our ancestors’ survival. Later on, we could have gained control of our vocal chords too, but the whistled languages continued to be a small but crucial element of humanity’s overall repertoire.

Comment: Recall the development of the human voice tract I've covered in the past and note my bolded sentence above. There are a complexity of changes in these human gaps in evolution which required both the humanoid and his brain to learn to use and coordinate together. To me from all I've read, size first, use second. To use a tube reminder sign, mind the gap!

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Sunday, May 28, 2017, 15:01 (176 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: On 25 May you wrote: “I am not implying that there are lesser and more advanced levels of consciousness. Consciousness is a single entity, one level.” Now you say your level is advanced and approaches God’s, and clearly your dog has a lower level. So what did you mean by your statement on 25 May?
DAVID: My May 25th statement means my brain receives consciousness to use as one unit. My brain enlargers and becomes more complex from infanthood. As I grow from childhood and mold my personality and approach to life, I use my consciousness from simple thoughts to very complex. I developed learned processes, like the typing at this moment. Under the use of my consciousness my brain responds to develop new connections. The whole thing is seamless: me, self, brain, consciousness.

Not much to disagree with here. Let’s forget about the advanced/no advanced level contradiction, and focus on the big one. You have at last agreed that consciousness uses the brain and not the other way round, though with an unnecessary caveat:
dhw: So why won’t you just have done with it and agree that according to your own scheme of things, consciousness uses and changes the brain, and not the other way round?
DAVID: True, but it is under the seamless control of me!

No “but”. You have already agreed that “me” is your consciousness. We can now move to the question of enlargement.

dhw: You don’t seem to have recognized that this study shows usage influencing the brain, not the other way round. Once the brain had reached its optimum size, the changes had to be to the “wiring”, not to the size. The more “uses” we invent, the more complex the “wiring”. Yes, the large brain preceded all these newer uses, but what enlarged the brain in the first place?
DAVID: Exactly the point: If an enlarged brain came first with parts basically unused, because thoughts and activities hadn't been invented as yet, then its plasticity allowed for it to adapt as the mental discoveries advanced.

Pre-humans had brains, and if brains are plastic and conscious demands change them, as shown by the study, it is illogical to argue that the brain changed – whether by enlargement or by complexity - before there were demands.

dhw: …I can only ask as I did before, why would the process be reversed for early humans, with changes preceding concepts?
DAVID: The gaps in evolution firmly predict change first. use second.

The gaps cannot “predict” anything. We are trying to explain them, and as you so rightly observed: “This study shows the intimate interconnection of our developing 'self' and how our brain changes to accommodate the integration of experience and responses.” Same again: If our consciousness is independent of our brain (your belief – I remain neutral) and consciousness uses the brain, as you now agree, then the obvious conclusion is that consciousness caused the enlargement, just as it causes the complexifications.

DAVID: My size first, use second of the brain, still fits what I see as evolutionary history. H sapiens arrived 200,000 years ago with a big jump of 200 cc in brain size. No evidence of new use gradually prodding the plastic brain to change ...etc.

The “gradualness” of enlargement covers the growth from the earliest hominins to ourselves. If the different stages occurred as big jumps (= saltations), it makes no difference to the argument that the brain changes when consciousness makes new demands. We have already agreed many times that saltations are indeed a mystery and that there is no evidence for my hypothesis or for your own.

DAVID: Of course a new size implies a causing mechanism. dhw can't find one. I posit God. so we are on opposite sides of his picket fence.

As usual, you try to shift the argument to belief in God. I am not even discounting the possibility that the size of the brain IS the cause of enhanced consciousness (= materialism). I don’t know the cause of consciousness, whereas you think you do. I am simply pointing out that such a belief is a contradiction of your OWN belief that consciousness/the self (an independent entity which you envisage surviving into an afterlife) uses the brain. Neither belief excludes God anyway, but you are so fixed in your interpretation of his mind that you seem to think any other interpretation is atheistic!

Thank you for the post that follows, on the subject of language. It is fascinating, but makes not the slightest difference to the argument. You put the following in bold:

DAVID: These mysterious languages demonstrate the brain’s astonishing capacity to decode information from new signals – with insights that are causing some neuroscientists to rethink the fundamental organisation of the brain.

Nobody will deny the brain’s astonishing capacity to do all sorts of things. But if the brain is a RECEIVER according to your beliefs, it can only have changed when changes were needed in order to decode the information being sent by consciousness.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Sunday, May 28, 2017, 18:09 (176 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Exactly the point: If an enlarged brain came first with parts basically unused, because thoughts and activities hadn't been invented as yet, then its plasticity allowed for it to adapt as the mental discoveries advanced.

Pre-humans had brains, and if brains are plastic and conscious demands change them, as shown by the study, it is illogical to argue that the brain changed – whether by enlargement or by complexity - before there were demands.

You are skipping the fact that we have fossil skulls which give us brain sizes which large jumps in volume. We cannot know the brain complexity at each stage, but we can look at stone tools, use of fire, etc. to judge the level of brain use. Of course at each level of size brain plasticity responded to levels of thought and use from developed activities.

DAVID: The gaps in evolution firmly predict change first. use second.

dhw: The gaps cannot “predict” anything. We are trying to explain them, and as you so rightly observed: “This study shows the intimate interconnection of our developing 'self' and how our brain changes to accommodate the integration of experience and responses.” Same again: If our consciousness is independent of our brain (your belief – I remain neutral) and consciousness uses the brain, as you now agree, then the obvious conclusion is that consciousness caused the enlargement, just as it causes the complexifications.

These are not gradual changes in size, 200 cc at a time. And there is no evidence of major advanced uses of the brain until 10,000 years ago as our civilization suddenly advanced, finally taking advantage of our giant brain, which arrived 200,000 years ago.


DAVID: My size first, use second of the brain, still fits what I see as evolutionary history. H sapiens arrived 200,000 years ago with a big jump of 200 cc in brain size. No evidence of new use gradually prodding the plastic brain to change ...etc.

dhw: The “gradualness” of enlargement covers the growth from the earliest hominins to ourselves. If the different stages occurred as big jumps (= saltations), it makes no difference to the argument that the brain changes when consciousness makes new demands. We have already agreed many times that saltations are indeed a mystery and that there is no evidence for my hypothesis or for your own.

Once and for all there is no gradualness, no 'if' about the stages. Yes, saltations, which I think come from God. And not much use until 50,000 years ago with advanced language, and 45,000 years ago with cave art. Not like the use of today, which was allowed 200,000 years ago, but not taken advantage of.


DAVID: Of course a new size implies a causing mechanism. dhw can't find one. I posit God. so we are on opposite sides of his picket fence.

dhw: As usual, you try to shift the argument to belief in God. I am not even discounting the possibility that the size of the brain IS the cause of enhanced consciousness (= materialism). I don’t know the cause of consciousness, whereas you think you do. I am simply pointing out that such a belief is a contradiction of your OWN belief that consciousness/the self (an independent entity which you envisage surviving into an afterlife) uses the brain. Neither belief excludes God anyway, but you are so fixed in your interpretation of his mind that you seem to think any other interpretation is atheistic!

Well at least it is agnostic.


dhw: Thank you for the post that follows, on the subject of language. It is fascinating, but makes not the slightest difference to the argument. You put the following in bold:

DAVID: These mysterious languages demonstrate the brain’s astonishing capacity to decode information from new signals – with insights that are causing some neuroscientists to rethink the fundamental organisation of the brain.

dhw: Nobody will deny the brain’s astonishing capacity to do all sorts of things. But if the brain is a RECEIVER according to your beliefs, it can only have changed when changes were needed in order to decode the information being sent by consciousness.

Thank you. Of the brain's plastic abilities work intimately with consciousness.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Monday, May 29, 2017, 13:44 (176 days ago) @ David Turell

Dhw: Pre-humans had brains, and if brains are plastic and conscious demands change them, as shown by the study, it is illogical to argue that the brain changed – whether by enlargement or by complexity - before there were demands.
DAVID: You are skipping the fact that we have fossil skulls which give us brain sizes which large jumps in volume. We cannot know the brain complexity at each stage, but we can look at stone tools, use of fire, etc. to judge the level of brain use. Of course at each level of size brain plasticity responded to levels of thought and use from developed activities.

You are skipping the fact that in this same post I have discussed large jumps (saltations) and you have quoted and responded to my response below:

dhw: The “gradualness” of enlargement covers the growth from the earliest hominins to ourselves. If the different stages occurred as big jumps (= saltations), it makes no difference to the argument that the brain changes when consciousness makes new demands. We have already agreed many times that saltations are indeed a mystery and that there is no evidence for my hypothesis or for your own.
DAVID: Once and for all there is no gradualness, no 'if' about the stages. Yes, saltations, which I think come from God. And not much use until 50,000 years ago with advanced language, and 45,000 years ago with cave art. Not like the use of today, which was allowed 200,000 years ago, but not taken advantage of.

What do you mean by “not much use”? The first sapiens survived, didn’t they? And they used fire and tools and we don’t know what else in the way of language and other skills that enabled them to cope with their different environments.

There are two issues. 1) What caused the enlargement of the brain? 2) What caused all the advances humans have made over the last 200,000 years? You say we begin with an advanced form of God-given consciousness which you now agree uses the brain. According to the study you recommended, the brain changes according to the demands of consciousness. History: the brain grew larger by saltations. Implication: consciousness made demands…brain enlarged to cope with demands. Brain reached optimum size. Consciousness continued to come up with new concepts, and so the brain had to complexify in order to meet the new demands of consciousness. It could hardly be clearer, provided one believes in dualism and an afterlife as oneself.

QUOTE: These mysterious languages demonstrate the brain’s astonishing capacity to decode information from new signals – with insights that are causing some neuroscientists to rethink the fundamental organisation of the brain. (David’s bold)
dhw: Nobody will deny the brain’s astonishing capacity to do all sorts of things. But if the brain is a RECEIVER according to your beliefs, it can only have changed when changes were needed in order to decode the information being sent by consciousness.
DAVID: Thank you. Of the brain's plastic abilities work intimately with consciousness.

The intimate work consists in the plastic brain responding to the requirements of consciousness: since that is what is demonstrated by the study, it makes perfect sense that it would also apply to the enlargement of the brain until it reached its optimum size. I presume your thanks denote agreement, so why have you spent the first part of this post disagreeing?

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Monday, May 29, 2017, 17:49 (175 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Once and for all there is no gradualness, no 'if' about the stages. Yes, saltations, which I think come from God. And not much use until 50,000 years ago with advanced language, and 45,000 years ago with cave art. Not like the use of today, which was allowed 200,000 years ago, but not taken advantage of.

dhw: What do you mean by “not much use”? The first sapiens survived, didn’t they? And they used fire and tools and we don’t know what else in the way of language and other skills that enabled them to cope with their different environments.

There are two issues. 1) What caused the enlargement of the brain? 2) What caused all the advances humans have made over the last 200,000 years? You say we begin with an advanced form of God-given consciousness which you now agree uses the brain. According to the study you recommended, the brain changes according to the demands of consciousness. History: the brain grew larger by saltations. Implication: consciousness made demands…brain enlarged to cope with demands. Brain reached optimum size. Consciousness continued to come up with new concepts, and so the brain had to complexify in order to meet the new demands of consciousness. It could hardly be clearer, provided one believes in dualism and an afterlife as oneself.

Our brain arrived 200,000 years ago and in recent years has gotten a little smaller. That doesn't fit your concept of use driving a larger size, since in the past 10,000 years since agriculture arrived the use of the brain has tremendously expanded. The following study explains it:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170526084524.htm

"Since it has been well-established that larger brain volume is associated with better cognitive performance, it was puzzling that cognitive performance shows a dramatic improvement from childhood to young adulthood at the same time that brain volume and cortical thickness decline.

"A new study ... may help resolve this puzzle, revealing that while volume indeed decreases from childhood to young adulthood, gray matter density actually increases. Their findings also show that while females have lower brain volume, proportionate to their smaller size, they have higher gray matter density than males, which could explain why their cognitive performance is comparable despite having lower brain volume. Thus, while adolescents lose brain volume, and females have lower brain volume than males, this is compensated for by increased density of gray matter.

***

"'Our findings also emphasize the need to examine several measures of brain structure at the same time. Volume and cortical thickness have received the most attention in developmental studies in the past, but gray matter density may be as important for understanding how improved performance relates to brain development.'"

The brain has the ability to increase density. Our highly used sapiens brain is shrinking under enormous new uses. No question, size first, use second with each 200cc jump.

DAVID: Thank you. Of the brain's plastic abilities work intimately with consciousness.

dhw: The intimate work consists in the plastic brain responding to the requirements of consciousness: since that is what is demonstrated by the study, it makes perfect sense that it would also apply to the enlargement of the brain until it reached its optimum size. I presume your thanks denote agreement, so why have you spent the first part of this post disagreeing?

Because what I conclude from the studies is opposite from you conclusions, which do not explain the small shrinkage in our brain size in the past 50,000 years.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use. size

by David Turell @, Monday, May 29, 2017, 23:30 (175 days ago) @ David Turell

I think it should be clear that when a 200cc increase in size is mentioned, what that means should be visualized. The increase is roughly equivalent to a seven ounce glass of water. That is a big jump in brain volume. It doesn't reveal if complexity or density are increased in the newly enlarged brain, but its evolution involves coordination with skull growth to accommodate the new volume. Not a simple process.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use. size

by David Turell @, Tuesday, May 30, 2017, 01:08 (175 days ago) @ David Turell

I think it should be clear that when a 200cc increase in size is mentioned, what that means should be visualized. The increase is roughly equivalent to a seven ounce glass of water. That is a big jump in brain volume. It doesn't reveal if complexity or density are increased in the newly enlarged brain, but its evolution involves coordination with skull growth to accommodate the new volume. Not a simple process.

We became civilized only 10,000 years ago as agriculture appeared and then intense civilization brought enormous uses of the brain. But our brain is slightly smaller in recent years. A current study looks at stone age shaping of stone tools at two ages and guesses at brain responses by looking at current subjects producing the stone tools:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170508184905.htm

"By using highly advanced brain imaging technology to observe modern humans crafting ancient tools, an Indiana University neuroarchaeologist has found evidence that human-like ways of thinking may have emerged as early as 1.8 million years ago.

"The results, reported May 8 in the journal Nature Human Behavior, place the appearance of human-like cognition at the emergence of Homo erectus, an early apelike species of human first found in Africa whose evolution predates Neanderthals by nearly 600,000 years.

"'This is a significant result because it's commonly thought our most modern forms of cognition only appeared very recently in terms of human evolutionary history," said Shelby S. Putt, a postdoctoral researcher with The Stone Age Institute at Indiana University, who is first author on the study. "But these results suggest the transition from apelike to humanlike ways of thinking and behaving arose surprisingly early."

"The study's conclusions are based upon brain activity in modern individuals taught to create two types of ancient tools: simple Oldowan-era "flake tools" -- little more than broken rocks with a jagged edge -- and more complicated Acheulian-era hand axes, which resemble a large arrowhead. Both are formed by smashing rocks together using a process known as "flintknapping.'"

"Oldowan tools, which first appeared about 2.6 million years ago, are among the earliest used by humanity's ancestors. Acheulian-era tool use dates from 1.8 million to 100,000 years ago.

***

"The resulting brain scans revealed that visual attention and motor control were required to create the simpler Oldowan tools. A much larger portion of the brain was engaged in the creation of the more complex Acheulian tools, including regions of the brain associated with the integration of visual, auditory and sensorimotor information; the guidance of visual working memory; and higher-order action planning.

"'The fact that these more advanced forms of cognition were required to create Acheulean hand axes -- but not simpler Oldowan tools -- means the date for this more humanlike type of cognition can be pushed back to at least 1.8 million years ago, the earliest these tools are found in the archaeological record," Putt said. "Strikingly, these parts of the brain are the same areas engaged in modern activities like playing the piano.'"

Comment: H. erectus had a brain size of 900cc, and is showing development of an advancing human use of the brain at 1.8 million years ago. But Lucy is 3 million years ago at 400cc and the Oldowan tools did not require much brain activity at 2.8 million years ago and were made by H. habilis, who preceded H. erectus. Habilis brain size was 640cc. The brain was simply used until recently, and intensely in the past 10,000 years, but is slightly smaller. Based on the adolescent brain study quoted earlier, I would guess our brain is becoming more dense. Size first use second.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Tuesday, May 30, 2017, 20:12 (174 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: The intimate work consists in the plastic brain responding to the requirements of consciousness: since that is what is demonstrated by the study, it makes perfect sense that it would also apply to the enlargement of the brain until it reached its optimum size. I presume your thanks denote agreement, so why have you spent the first part of this post disagreeing?
DAVID: Because what I conclude from the studies is opposite from you conclusions, which do not explain the small shrinkage in our brain size in the past 50,000 years.

You have now totally ignored all the previous arguments (repeated below) and are suddenly telling us that the current shrinking brain proves that the enlarged brain must have preceded the enhancement of consciousness. Why? It simply suggests that increased density is now more important than size.

DAVID: I think it should be clear that when a 200cc increase in size is mentioned, what that means should be visualized. The increase is roughly equivalent to a seven ounce glass of water. That is a big jump in brain volume. It doesn't reveal if complexity or density are increased in the newly enlarged brain, but its evolution involves coordination with skull growth to accommodate the new volume. Not a simple process.

Since nobody has yet come up with an explanation of how saltations (big jumps) work, I would have said the process must be extremely complex.

Comment: H. erectus had a brain size of 900cc, and is showing development of an advancing human use of the brain at 1.8 million years ago. But Lucy is 3 million years ago at 400cc and the Oldowan tools did not require much brain activity at 2.8 million years ago and were made by H. habilis, who preceded H. erectus. Habilis brain size was 640cc. The brain was simply used until recently, and intensely in the past 10,000 years, but is slightly smaller. Based on the adolescent brain study quoted earlier, I would guess our brain is becoming more dense. Size first use second.

I would also guess that our brain is becoming more dense. Clearly, therefore, size is not the causative factor in the advances of consciousness. If I were a dualist and an afterlifer, I would say that since consciousness/the self is separate from and survives the brain, which is only a receiver, and since consciousness uses and actually changes the brain, it is clear that consciousness provides the concepts, and the brain responds by changing itself – in the early days by way of enlargement, but later by way of densifying. And thanks to the brain’s plasticity, densifying makes size even less important – hence the slight shrinkage. And if I were a dualist, I would oppose any view that made the evolution of consciousness dependent on the growth of the brain. As a dualist, you have agreed with all of this. And yet suddenly, for no clear reason, you think a bit of shrinkage invalidates it all.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Wednesday, May 31, 2017, 01:37 (174 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Because what I conclude from the studies is opposite from you conclusions, which do not explain the small shrinkage in our brain size in the past 50,000 years.

dhw: You have now totally ignored all the previous arguments (repeated below) and are suddenly telling us that the current shrinking brain proves that the enlarged brain must have preceded the enhancement of consciousness. Why? It simply suggests that increased density is now more important than size.

Increasing density is due to more complex use of a very responsive brain. Remember complex use started 10,000 years ago, with very simple use before then. The vast brain was there waiting for uses to appear. Now we see the new effect.

Comment: H. erectus had a brain size of 900cc, and is showing development of an advancing human use of the brain at 1.8 million years ago. But Lucy is 3 million years ago at 400cc and the Oldowan tools did not require much brain activity at 2.8 million years ago and were made by H. habilis, who preceded H. erectus. Habilis brain size was 640cc. The brain was simply used until recently, and intensely in the past 10,000 years, but is slightly smaller. Based on the adolescent brain study quoted earlier, I would guess our brain is becoming more dense. Size first use second.

dhw: I would also guess that our brain is becoming more dense. Clearly, therefore, size is not the causative factor in the advances of consciousness. If I were a dualist and an afterlifer, I would say that since consciousness/the self is separate from and survives the brain, which is only a receiver, and since consciousness uses and actually changes the brain, it is clear that consciousness provides the concepts, and the brain responds by changing itself – in the early days by way of enlargement, but later by way of densifying.

I would agree to all of this in a way, except the consciousness/me/self are the same and so I produce the uses and concepts which modify a brain that is already large and can handle the conceptual processes as they appear.

dhw: And thanks to the brain’s plasticity, densifying makes size even less important – hence the slight shrinkage. And if I were a dualist, I would oppose any view that made the evolution of consciousness dependent on the growth of the brain. As a dualist, you have agreed with all of this. And yet suddenly, for no clear reason, you think a bit of shrinkage invalidates it all.

Not at all. Shrinkage tells us the a highly used brain can become more dense and shrink and is simply a measure of the new usage. I've said in the past and again now, enlargement of the brain made it a better more competent receiver of consciousness. Size first, use second.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Wednesday, May 31, 2017, 12:48 (174 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: You have now totally ignored all the previous arguments (repeated below) and are suddenly telling us that the current shrinking brain proves that the enlarged brain must have preceded the enhancement of consciousness. Why? It simply suggests that increased density is now more important than size.
DAVID: Increasing density is due to more complex use of a very responsive brain.

Precisely.

DAVID: Remember complex use started 10,000 years ago, with very simple use before then. The vast brain was there waiting for uses to appear. Now we see the new effect.

And still you ignore all the previous arguments, even though you acknowledge them again below! Yes the vast brain was waiting, and the question is what originally caused it to expand. The brain responds to usage. Concepts first, brain response second (dualistic view). The brain expanded through usage. Approx. 200,000 years ago, after approx. a couple of million years of saltatory enlargements through usage, it reached homo sapiens size and stopped growing. Subsequently usage resulted in densifying because otherwise the balloon would have burst.

dhw: If I were a dualist and an afterlifer, I would say that since consciousness/the self is separate from and survives the brain, which is only a receiver, and since consciousness uses and actually changes the brain, it is clear that consciousness provides the concepts, and the brain responds by changing itself – in the early days by way of enlargement, but later by way of densifying.
DAVID: I would agree to all of this in a way, except the consciousness/me/self are the same and so I produce the uses and concepts which modify a brain that is already large and can handle the conceptual processes as they appear.

There is no “except”. I am the one who keeps reminding you that consciousness/me/self are all the same. That is the essential element of your dualism which tells you that it is consciousness that modifies the receiver, and so it is only logical that enhanced consciousness caused the receiver to enlarge, and not enlargement that caused enhanced consciousness.

dhw: And if I were a dualist, I would oppose any view that made the evolution of consciousness dependent on the growth of the brain. As a dualist, you have agreed with all of this. And yet suddenly, for no clear reason, you think a bit of shrinkage invalidates it all.
DAVID: Not at all. Shrinkage tells us the a highly used brain can become more dense and shrink and is simply a measure of the new usage. I've said in the past and again now, enlargement of the brain made it a better more competent receiver of consciousness. Size first, use second.

Yes, shrinkage tell us that the brain can shrink, and usage makes it become more dense. And yes, enlargement made the brain a more competent receiver. Here once again is the dualistic sequence: usage leads to brain enlargement, but once the size has been fixed (say, 200,000 years ago) it already exists before the new thoughts arrive and require greater density instead of enlargement. Usage first, size second, further usage third, density fourth.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Wednesday, May 31, 2017, 18:17 (173 days ago) @ dhw
edited by David Turell, Wednesday, May 31, 2017, 18:37


DAVID: Remember complex use started 10,000 years ago, with very simple use before then. The vast brain was there waiting for uses to appear. Now we see the new effect.

dhw: And still you ignore all the previous arguments, even though you acknowledge them again below! Yes the vast brain was waiting, and the question is what originally caused it to expand. The brain responds to usage. Concepts first, brain response second (dualistic view). The brain expanded through usage. Approx. 200,000 years ago, after approx. a couple of million years of saltatory enlargements through usage, it reached homo sapiens size and stopped growing. Subsequently usage resulted in densifying because otherwise the balloon would have burst.

This is entirely backward. Compare brain size to known activity from archeological findings. Human activities were simplistic until 10,000 years ago, but advanced after each enlargement. Your approach totally ignores the jumps in size demonstrated by the fossils, and with each jump pre-human activity becomes a little more complex. The brain modifies itself by increasing complexity within size, and therefore density appears with the current shrinkage in size. Your dualistic view is not mine.

DAVID: I would agree to all of this in a way, except the consciousness/me/self are the same and so I produce the uses and concepts which modify a brain that is already large and can handle the conceptual processes as they appear.


dhw: There is no “except”. I am the one who keeps reminding you that consciousness/me/self are all the same. That is the essential element of your dualism which tells you that it is consciousness that modifies the receiver, and so it is only logical that enhanced consciousness caused the receiver to enlarge, and not enlargement that caused enhanced consciousness.

Based on my comments above, I find your analysis totally illogical. You are ignoring the gaps. Giant jumps in size with little advancement in use.


dhw: And if I were a dualist, I would oppose any view that made the evolution of consciousness dependent on the growth of the brain. As a dualist, you have agreed with all of this. And yet suddenly, for no clear reason, you think a bit of shrinkage invalidates it all.

DAVID: Not at all. Shrinkage tells us the a highly used brain can become more dense and shrink and is simply a measure of the new usage. I've said in the past and again now, enlargement of the brain made it a better more competent receiver of consciousness. Size first, use second.

dhw: Yes, shrinkage tell us that the brain can shrink, and usage makes it become more dense. And yes, enlargement made the brain a more competent receiver. Here once again is the dualistic sequence: usage leads to brain enlargement, but once the size has been fixed (say, 200,000 years ago) it already exists before the new thoughts arrive and require greater density instead of enlargement. Usage first, size second, further usage third, density fourth.

Your dualistic theory makes no sense. If Lucy's brain is about chimp size, what she uses it for is bipedalism. There isn't evidence of much more brain use. Tree dwelling still exists. What changes are the motor areas for walking. 600 cc's later we see stone tools, perhaps learned spear throwing. How much real mentation? Where is all the push for enlargement? Your approach implies a gradual enlargement. Not present in fossils. You are saying hominin thoughts were so explosive, the brain and skull simply jumped to a new use. Human history teaches us we had to learn to use our new big brain which has existed for 200,000 years. Important use started with modern language about 50,000 years ago, cave art, etc. Which brings up the point, when did building shelters start? not long ago, and that requires conceptual planning of structure. And the brain's response to all the new use is to shrink, not expand as you propose. What is true now has to be true with the early Homos. Not much use, no shrinkage, but sudden expansions, not explained by your theory.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Thursday, June 01, 2017, 11:39 (173 days ago) @ David Turell

As you keep ignoring your own beliefs, I will summarize the argument so far, and then deal with the objections you keep raising.
According to you, body and mind are separate, and the mind is a piece of God’s consciousness which does all our thinking and which returns to God when the body dies, retaining its individual identity. This means that it is consciousness/the self that does the thinking and the brain is the receiver. We know that the brain changes its structure (densifying) in order to accommodate thought, and not the other way round. However, despite all of this, you believe that the enlargement of the receiver led to the complexification of thought, instead of complexified thought requiring and therefore producing the enlargement. I find this illogical in the context of the above beliefs.

DAVID: This is entirely backward. Compare brain size to known activity from archaeological findings. Human activities were simplistic until 10,000 years ago, but advanced after each enlargement.

We have no idea what our ancestors were thinking, because thought processes leave no archaeological traces, but we do have some products of their thought. What we know, for instance, is that our larger brained ancestors made tools. How do you know that the tools they used were not the products of thoughts that demanded new activities which in turn enlarged the brain? In other words, the receiver expanded to accommodate the demands of the generator. You make great play of the fact that the homo sapiens brain is approx. 200,000 years old, but there wasn’t much progress till 45,000 years ago (language) or 10,000 years ago with early civilizations. What does that prove? The apparent lack of progress is not explained by the theory that the receiver must be big before we can think big thoughts. Neither theory explains the apparent sluggishness. But yes, the receiver had reached its then optimum size, so instead of expanding (and bursting the balloon), it densified – a process we know involves thought (i.e. use of the brain) changing the brain, not the brain changing thought. Current shrinkage perhaps indicates the sheer efficiency of densifying – the extra volume is no longer required. I don’t know why you think shrinkage means brain size must precede enhanced consciousness.

Your other objection is that enlargement proceeded by saltations. We have agreed that this applies to many innovations throughout evolution, and nobody has yet explained them. Your hypothesis is a divine 3.8-billion-year programme or direct dabbling, and mine is a perhaps God-given intelligence which enables cell communities to cooperate in forming new structures. There is no proof for any of these hypotheses.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Thursday, June 01, 2017, 23:48 (172 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: According to you, body and mind are separate, and the mind is a piece of God’s consciousness which does all our thinking and which returns to God when the body dies, retaining its individual identity. This means that it is consciousness/the self that does the thinking and the brain is the receiver. We know that the brain changes its structure (densifying) in order to accommodate thought, and not the other way round. However, despite all of this, you believe that the enlargement of the receiver led to the complexification of thought, instead of complexified thought requiring and therefore producing the enlargement. I find this illogical in the context of the above beliefs.

The evidence I use is related to H. sapiens and its b rain. The stone age only disappeared recently yet our b rain was huge 200,000 years ago. We had to learn to use it. Not a great deal of mentation went on until recently. Not much internal drive to make it big in the earlier forms either. From their activities not much internal drive to make each size jump. They received a consciousness to work with, but had to learn how to develop it and use it. You are positing complex though when none existed to drive the enlargement.


DAVID: This is entirely backward. Compare brain size to known activity from archaeological findings. Human activities were simplistic until 10,000 years ago, but advanced after each enlargement.

dhw: We have no idea what our ancestors were thinking, because thought processes leave no archaeological traces, but we do have some products of their thought. What we know, for instance, is that our larger brained ancestors made tools. How do you know that the tools they used were not the products of thoughts that demanded new activities which in turn enlarged the brain?

Their tools were simple and their use lasted until 10,000 yea4w ago. Where is the drive for enlargement?

dhw: In other words, the receiver expanded to accommodate the demands of the generator. You make great play of the fact that the homo sapiens brain is approx. 200,000 years old, but there wasn’t much progress till 45,000 years ago (language) or 10,000 years ago with early civilizations. What does that prove? The apparent lack of progress is not explained by the theory that the receiver must be big before we can think big thoughts.

We had to learn to use it. You are frantically looking for an internal drive to cause enlargment, when none exists. Size first, use second, with the enlargement from a external source, God.

dhw: Neither theory explains the apparent sluggishness.

Mine does

dhw: But yes, the receiver had reached its then optimum size, so instead of expanding (and bursting the balloon), it densified – a process we know involves thought (i.e. use of the brain) changing the brain, not the brain changing thought. Current shrinkage perhaps indicates the sheer efficiency of densifying – the extra volume is no longer required. I don’t know why you think shrinkage means brain size must precede enhanced consciousness.

Because we had to use a process of learning how to use the brain ,and then with complex use it shrunk.


dhw: Your other objection is that enlargement proceeded by saltations. We have agreed that this applies to many innovations throughout evolution, and nobody has yet explained them. Your hypothesis is a divine 3.8-billion-year programme or direct dabbling, and mine is a perhaps God-given intelligence which enables cell communities to cooperate in forming new structures. There is no proof for any of these hypotheses.

Mine is much more logical. There has to be an external drive for evolution to proceed.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Friday, June 02, 2017, 20:34 (171 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: According to you, body and mind are separate, and the mind is a piece of God’s consciousness which does all our thinking and which returns to God when the body dies, retaining its individual identity. This means that it is consciousness/the self that does the thinking and the brain is the receiver. We know that the brain changes its structure (densifying) in order to accommodate thought, and not the other way round. However, despite all of this, you believe that the enlargement of the receiver led to the complexification of thought, instead of complexified thought requiring and therefore producing the enlargement. I find this illogical in the context of the above beliefs.

DAVID: The evidence I use is related to H. sapiens and its brain. The stone age only disappeared recently yet our brain was huge 200,000 years ago. We had to learn to use it. Not a great deal of mentation went on until recently. Not much internal drive to make it big in the earlier forms either. From their activities not much internal drive to make each size jump. They received a consciousness to work with, but had to learn how to develop it and use it. You are positing complex thought when none existed to drive the enlargement.

How on earth do you know what our ancestors were thinking? The very fact that they used tools denotes highly complex thought. The earliest known throwing spears are 300,000 years old – long before the huge brain. But in any case, you continue to ignore your own beliefs which I have summarized above. Once more: how can you tell us that your God gave us a bit of his consciousness, that this consciousness/the self/you/me uses the brain and survives the death of the brain, is known to alter the density of the brain, and yet depends for its “mentation” on the size of the brain?

dhw: How do you know that the tools they used were not the products of thoughts that demanded new activities which in turn enlarged the brain?
DAVID: Their tools were simple and their use lasted until 10,000 years ago. Where is the drive for enlargement?

What do you mean by the “drive for enlargement”? The drive is for improvement, though you prefer complexity. Enlargement is the result of the drive for improvement, which requires recognition of the need or opportunity for change and the decision to act accordingly.
If I accepted dualism, I could not possibly argue that the large brain says to the self/consciousness “Find a use for me.” The self/consciousness would have to say to the brain, “I need/want to do this. Make it possible.” That is clearly shown by the process of densifying, and I am proposing that exactly the same process caused enlargement until the brain reached its (then) optimum size 200,000 years ago, after which consciousness used the brain by densifying it. As for homo sapiens not doing much for 190,000 years, I don’t know what they were thinking, or how much denser their brains became, or why they didn’t write books, invent computers, or mass produce chocolate. Perhaps they were too busy finding different ways to cope with their different environments. Or perhaps it just needed a few bright individuals with a bit of time on their hands to start asking questions nobody had ever asked before. What is your theory for the “delay”? “We had to learn to use it.” Yes, according to your beliefs, we use it and it does not use us. As the self/consciousness acquires more and more information (i.e. learns more and more), it demands more and more of the brain, and that is why the brain changes – initially in size, then for the last 200,000 years in density, as demonstrated.

dhw: Your other objection is that enlargement proceeded by saltations. We have agreed that this applies to many innovations throughout evolution, and nobody has yet explained them. Your hypothesis is a divine 3.8-billion-year programme or direct dabbling, and mine is a perhaps God-given intelligence which enables cell communities to cooperate in forming new structures. There is no proof for any of these hypotheses.
DAVID: Mine is much more logical. There has to be an external drive for evolution to proceed.

In my hypothesis, the drive is for improvement, and it is internal, and your God may have implanted it.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Saturday, June 03, 2017, 02:21 (171 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: The evidence I use is related to H. sapiens and its brain. The stone age only disappeared recently yet our brain was huge 200,000 years ago. We had to learn to use it. Not a great deal of mentation went on until recently. Not much internal drive to make it big in the earlier forms either. From their activities not much internal drive to make each size jump. They received a consciousness to work with, but had to learn how to develop it and use it. You are positing complex thought when none existed to drive the enlargement.

dhw: How on earth do you know what our ancestors were thinking? The very fact that they used tools denotes highly complex thought. The earliest known throwing spears are 300,000 years old – long before the huge brain.

Sure Habilis was throwing spears. Involves eye and muscle coordination. How much advanced cogitation was required. Not much. Chimps can throw stones at humans in zoos, So?

dhw: But in any case, you continue to ignore your own beliefs which I have summarized above. Once more: how can you tell us that your God gave us a bit of his consciousness, that this consciousness/the self/you/me uses the brain and survives the death of the brain, is known to alter the density of the brain, and yet depends for its “mentation” on the size of the brain?

Do you think Erectus can do calculus. Did erectus have our degree of consciousness. When did humans build habitations, grow agricultural crops, form cooperative societies? In the past 10-20,000 years. 200,000 years ago little of the mentation I just described existed.

DAVID: Their tools were simple and their use lasted until 10,000 years ago. Where is the drive for enlargement?

dhw: What do you mean by the “drive for enlargement”? The drive is for improvement, though you prefer complexity. Enlargement is the result of the drive for improvement, which requires recognition of the need or opportunity for change and the decision to act accordingly.

How does a physical object like a brain create a drive for improvement without envisioning what the new brain would look like in advance, to jump the gap in size. You want some type of internal drive, and all I logically see is external drive, God.

If I accepted dualism, I could not possibly argue that the large brain says to the self/consciousness “Find a use for me.” The self/consciousness would have to say to the brain, “I need/want to do this. Make it possible.” That is clearly shown by the process of densifying, and I am proposing that exactly the same process caused enlargement until the brain reached its (then) optimum size 200,000 years ago, after which consciousness used the brain by densifying it. As for homo sapiens not doing much for 190,000 years, I don’t know what they were thinking, or how much denser their brains became, or why they didn’t write books, invent computers, or mass produce chocolate. Perhaps they were too busy finding different ways to cope with their different environments. Or perhaps it just needed a few bright individuals with a bit of time on their hands to start asking questions nobody had ever asked before. What is your theory for the “delay”?

Obvious. They had to learn how to use the big brain they were given. And once used more thoroughly, then it recently densified, as I said. Density indicates new intense use.

We had to learn to use it.” Yes, according to your beliefs, we use it and it does not use us. As the self/consciousness acquires more and more information (i.e. learns more and more), it demands more and more of the brain, and that is why the brain changes – initially in size, then for the last 200,000 years in density, as demonstrated.

I said density is recent! Demonstrated by a shrinkage: "Over the past 20,000 years, the average volume of the human male brain has decreased from 1,500 cubic centimeters to 1,350 cc, losing a chunk the size of a tennis ball. The female brain has shrunk by about the same proportion."

http://discovermagazine.com/2010/sep/25-modern-humans-smart-why-brain-shrinking

DAVID: Mine is much more logical. There has to be an external drive for evolution to proceed.

dhw: In my hypothesis, the drive is for improvement, and it is internal, and your God may have implanted it.

I know.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Saturday, June 03, 2017, 11:10 (171 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: You are positing complex thought when none existed to drive the enlargement.
dhw: How on earth do you know what our ancestors were thinking? The very fact that they used tools denotes highly complex thought. The earliest known throwing spears are 300,000 years old – long before the huge brain.
DAVID: Sure Habilis was throwing spears. Involves eye and muscle coordination. How much advanced cogitation was required. Not much. Chimps can throw stones at humans in zoos, So?

I am not talking about eye and muscle coordination but about technology, which requires highly complex thought.

World's Oldest Spears - Archaeology Magazine Archive
www.archive.archaeology.org/9705/newsbriefs/spears.html
QUOTE: “The spears show design and construction skills previously attributed only to modern humans. "They are really high tech," says Hartmut Thieme of the Institut für Denkmalpflege in Hannover, who discovered them while excavating in advance of a rotary shovel digger used in the mine. "They are made of very tough Picea [spruce] trunk and are similarly carved." Their frontal center of gravity suggests they were used as javelins, says Thieme.

DAVID: Do you think Erectus can do calculus. Did erectus have our degree of consciousness. When did humans build habitations, grow agricultural crops, form cooperative societies? In the past 10-20,000 years. 200,000 years ago little of the mentation I just described existed.

This is why you keep contradicting yourself. It was consciousness and not the big brain that devised calculus, and I'll bet the brain densified as a result, just as it would have expanded as a result of consciousness wanting to produce sophisticated weapons. See below regarding the 180-190,000-year gap.

DAVID: Their tools were simple and their use lasted until 10,000 years ago. Where is the drive for enlargement?
dhw: What do you mean by the “drive for enlargement”? The drive is for improvement, though you prefer complexity. Enlargement is the result of the drive for improvement, which requires recognition of the need or opportunity for change and the decision to act accordingly.
DAVID: How does a physical object like a brain create a drive for improvement without envisioning what the new brain would look like in advance, to jump the gap in size. You want some type of internal drive, and all I logically see is external drive, God.

I did not say the brain created the drive for improvement! The drive for improvement or survival is what underlies all adaptations and innovations, including the brain and its evolution, just as you argue that the drive for complexity does the same thing. See also my comment under “whale changes”.

Dhw: As for homo sapiens not doing much for 190,000 years, I don’t know what they were thinking, or how much denser their brains became, or why they didn’t write books, invent computers, or mass produce chocolate. Perhaps they were too busy finding different ways to cope with their different environments. Or perhaps it just needed a few bright individuals with a bit of time on their hands to start asking questions nobody had ever asked before. What is your theory for the “delay”?
DAVID: Obvious. They had to learn how to use the big brain they were given. And once used more thoroughly, then it recently densified, as I said. Density indicates new intense use.

So your question is why it took 180,000 years for homo sapiens to use and densify his brain once it had reached its then optimum size. I don’t know, and nor do you, but I have speculated in the passage you have quoted. We know that thought densifies the brain, and you believe that thought is the product of consciousness, not of the brain. And so we have a logical progression: thought changes the size of the brain as it makes more and more demands. The brain reaches a size beyond which the head and body would not be able to cope. The fact that it then took 180,000 or 190,000 years for consciousness to require more changes does not mean that until then all thought was engendered by the brain! At each stage of increased volume, you still have consciousness using and changing the brain and not the brain using and changing consciousness. “Learning to use it” in your dualistic framework can therefore only refer to the process whereby consciousness acquires more and more information from experience and from the brain (through our perceptions), and so makes more and more demands on the brain, which initially responds by expanding, and recently responds by densifying. For 180-190,000 years the brain size was adequate for the needs of homo sapiens, but for reasons unknown his consciousness then came up with new ideas and new demands, and so instead of the brain responding by enlargement, it responded by densifying. This all fits in perfectly with the dualistic belief that it is the mind that uses the body/brain and not the other way round. And it is no problem for those who believe in God, because they can say it was God who designed the process and the apparatus in the first place.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Saturday, June 03, 2017, 18:55 (170 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: World's Oldest Spears - Archaeology Magazine Archive
www.archive.archaeology.org/9705/newsbriefs/spears.html
QUOTE: “The spears show design and construction skills previously attributed only to modern humans. "They are really high tech," says Hartmut Thieme of the Institut für Denkmalpflege in Hannover, who discovered them while excavating in advance of a rotary shovel digger used in the mine. "They are made of very tough Picea [spruce] trunk and are similarly carved." Their frontal center of gravity suggests they were used as javelins, says Thieme.

I'm sure these spears developed by trial and error and our ancestors could do a bit of thinking and experimenting. This is practical conceptualization, n ot terribly advanced like the past 10,000 years.


dhw: This is why you keep contradicting yourself. It was consciousness and not the big brain that devised calculus, and I'll bet the brain densified as a result, just as it would have expanded as a result of consciousness wanting to produce sophisticated weapons.

You keep contradicting me by changing my concept of brain/consciousness interface. My brain and my thinking uses the mechanism of consciousness to develop calculus. My consciousness did not do it on its own.

DAVID: How does a physical object like a brain create a drive for improvement without envisioning what the new brain would look like in advance, to jump the gap in size. You want some type of internal drive, and all I logically see is external drive, God.

dhw: I did not say the brain created the drive for improvement! The drive for improvement or survival is what underlies all adaptations and innovations, including the brain and its evolution, just as you argue that the drive for complexity does the same thing. See also my comment under “whale changes”.

Again you push for an internal drive and I insist it is external, God.

DAVID: Obvious. They had to learn how to use the big brain they were given. And once used more thoroughly, then it recently densified, as I said. Density indicates new intense use.

dhw: So your question is why it took 180,000 years for homo sapiens to use and densify his brain once it had reached its then optimum size. I don’t know, and nor do you, but I have speculated in the passage you have quoted. We know that thought densifies the brain, and you believe that thought is the product of consciousness, not of the brain. And so we have a logical progression: thought changes the size of the brain as it makes more and more demands. The brain reaches a size beyond which the head and body would not be able to cope. The fact that it then took 180,000 or 190,000 years for consciousness to require more changes does not mean that until then all thought was engendered by the brain! At each stage of increased volume, you still have consciousness using and changing the brain and not the brain using and changing consciousness. “Learning to use it” in your dualistic framework can therefore only refer to the process whereby consciousness acquires more and more information from experience and from the brain (through our perceptions), and so makes more and more demands on the brain, which initially responds by expanding, and recently responds by densifying. For 180-190,000 years the brain size was adequate for the needs of homo sapiens, but for reasons unknown his consciousness then came up with new ideas and new demands, and so instead of the brain responding by enlargement, it responded by densifying. This all fits in perfectly with the dualistic belief that it is the mind that uses the body/brain and not the other way round. And it is no problem for those who believe in God, because they can say it was God who designed the process and the apparatus in the first place.

None of this fits my view of the brain/consciousness relationship as explained above. Whatever is your previously learned philosophic interpretation of dualism is getting in the way of understanding my concept, based on the brain as a receiver of a mechanism called consciousness, which none of us understand what it is or how it works, but we work with it constantly. It doesn't forcefully run my thoughts, I do.

200,000 yeaers ago H sapiens arrived with a brain perfectly capable of running their physical athletic affairs, handling a basic language and growing a cooperative society of hunter-gatherers in small groups. 50,000 years ago we think more complex language, 10,000 years ago agriculture, habitations not caves. 20,000 years ago the brain began to densify from the increasing use. It is completely obvious, size first and use second. And size came from God since it wasn't needed or used 200,000 years ago, but came to be used as we learned how to. Learning how to use it came naturally but took a long time. It was a process of discovery of what was available in planning and conceptualizing.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Sunday, June 04, 2017, 13:24 (170 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: World's Oldest Spears - Archaeology Magazine Archive
www.archive.archaeology.org/9705/newsbriefs/spears.html
QUOTE: “The spears show design and construction skills previously attributed only to modern humans. "They are really high tech," says Hartmut Thieme of the Institut für Denkmalpflege in Hannover, who discovered them while excavating in advance of a rotary shovel digger used in the mine. "They are made of very tough Picea [spruce] trunk and are similarly carved." Their frontal center of gravity suggests they were used as javelins, says Thieme.

DAVID: I'm sure these spears developed by trial and error and our ancestors could do a bit of thinking and experimenting. This is practical conceptualization, n ot terribly advanced like the past 10,000 years.

I am not comparing their achievements with ours. I am merely pointing out that long before homo sapiens there was “thinking and experimenting” far in advance of what chimps are capable of. And of course it was practical – so too are guns and rockets and bombs. Practical conceptualization is still conceptualization, and if conscious thought is the source of concepts, it would have led to earlier expansions of the brain, just as it now leads to densifying.

dhw: This is why you keep contradicting yourself. It was consciousness and not the big brain that devised calculus, and I'll bet the brain densified as a result, just as it would have expanded as a result of consciousness wanting to produce sophisticated weapons.
DAVID: You keep contradicting me by changing my concept of brain/consciousness interface. My brain and my thinking uses the mechanism of consciousness to develop calculus. My consciousness did not do it on its own.

You have now agreed several times that you, your thinking and your consciousness are all one, and according to YOUR concepts, this entity uses the brain and can exist independently of the brain. How else could you, your thinking, your consciousness survive the death of the brain, as is your stated belief?
In response to my attempt at summarizing the process you write:

DAVID: None of this fits my view of the brain/consciousness relationship as explained above. Whatever is your previously learned philosophic interpretation of dualism is getting in the way of understanding my concept, based on the brain as a receiver of a mechanism called consciousness, which none of us understand what it is or how it works, but we work with it constantly. It doesn't forcefully run my thoughts, I do.

Once again, you, your self, your mind, your consciousness, your thoughts are all one, according to your belief in an afterlife in which you, your self, your consciousness and your thoughts exist but your brain doesn’t. Yes, the brain is the receiver not the generator of thought. It has been demonstrated that thought changes the structure of the brain (densifying) and not the other way round. It therefore seems logical that the same process would apply to size – that thought led to size and size did not lead to thought.

DAVID: 200,000 years ago H sapiens arrived with a brain perfectly capable of running their physical athletic affairs, handling a basic language and growing a cooperative society of hunter-gatherers in small groups. 50,000 years ago we think more complex language, 10,000 years ago agriculture, habitations not caves. 20,000 years ago the brain began to densify from the increasing use. It is completely obvious, size first and use second. And size came from God since it wasn't needed or used 200,000 years ago, but came to be used as we learned how to. Learning how to use it came naturally but took a long time. It was a process of discovery of what was available in planning and conceptualizing.

I’m not disputing the first part of your comment, up until “20,000 years ago…”, but you are missing out all the stages that led to the brain of 200,000 years ago. This is why earlier conceptualizations are so important. Somewhere along the evolutionary line, we get a (God-given?) small brain. Let’s take that as our starting point. If consciousness (not the brain) is the source of conceptualization, and if thought influences the structure of the brain – as shown by the article you quoted – you would have had a sequence of expansions as consciousness came up with new ideas. Conscious use demands a bigger brain, i.e. use leads to expansion: use first, size second. 200,000 years ago, expansion ends. So yes of course that final size comes before all later uses of the brain, but each expansion has been the RESULT of conceptualization, not the CAUSE, because – according to you - the brain is only a receiver and not a generator. Having reached its maximum size, the brain is then used by you/consciousness according to whatever information it provides, and when it can no longer accommodate all the new thoughts of consciousness, it densifies.

May I now ask how you know that densification only began 20,000 years ago? If this is true and, to take one extremely important example, if human language really did emerge 50,000 years ago along with changes to the vocal tracts, I find it quite astonishing that there was no densifying or restructuring of the brain at that time. How has this been established?

Evolution and humans: the last ice age

by David Turell @, Sunday, June 04, 2017, 14:53 (170 days ago) @ dhw

Only 100,000 humans survived:

https://townhall.com/columnists/dennisavery/2017/06/04/when-too-little-co2-nearly-doome...

"During the last Ice Age, however, too little CO2 in the air almost eradicated mankind. That’s when the much-colder water in the oceans sucked most of the CO2 from the air. There were only about 180 parts per million in the atmosphere, compared to today’s 400 ppm.

"The Ice Age’s combined horrors—intense cold, permanent drought, and CO2 starvation—killed most of the plants on earth. Only a few trees survived, in the mildest climates.Much of the planet’s grass turned to tundra, which is much less nourishing to the herbivores we depended on for food and fur. Cambridge University’s recent studies say that, worldwide, only about 100,000 humans were left alive when the current Interglacial warming mercifully began.

"The few surviving prey animals had to keep migrating to get enough food. That forced our ancestors to migrate with them, in temperatures that routinely fell to 40 degrees below zero (both Fahrenheit and Celsius). The Neanderthals had been living in warm caves protected from predators by fires at the cave mouths. They had hunted their prey by sneaking through the trees—which no longer existed. They apparently couldn’t adapt, and starved. Cambridge finds no signs of genocidal warfare.

"The most successful human survivors—who provided most of the DNA for modern Europeans—were nomads from the Black Sea region. The Gravettians had never had trees, so they invented mammoth-skin tents, held up by salvaged mammoth ribs. They also developed spear-throwers, to kill the huge mammoths from a safe distance. Most important, they tamed wolves into dogs, to protect their tents from marauders, to locate the game animals on the broad tundra, and to harry the prey into a defensive cluster. The scarcity of food in that Glacial Maximum intensified the wolves’ appreciation for the bones and bone marrow at the human camps. "

Comment: the last ice age ended about 11,700 years ago.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_glacial_period Survival concepts are described in this article. Little else occupied our brain at that point. It must have become more complex faced with this degree of environmental adversity.

Evolution and humans: the last ice age

by David Turell @, Saturday, July 01, 2017, 15:21 (142 days ago) @ David Turell

More on the subject:

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/06/30/life-on-earth-was-nearly-doomed-by-too-little-co2/


"The last ice age had intense cold, permanent drought and CO2 starvation – killed most of the plants on Earth. Only a few trees survived, in the mildest climates. Much of the planet’s grass turned to tundra, which is much less nourishing to the herbivores prehistoric humans depended on for food and fur. Recent Cambridge University studies conclude that only about 100,000 humans were left alive worldwide when the current interglacial warming mercifully began.

"The few surviving prey animals had to keep migrating to get enough food. That forced our ancestors to migrate with them, in temperatures that routinely fell to 40 degrees below zero (both Fahrenheit and Celsius). The Neanderthals had been living in relatively warm caves protected from predators by fires at the cave mouths. They had hunted their prey by sneaking through the trees – which no longer existed. They apparently couldn’t adapt, and starved. Cambridge found no evidence of genocidal warfare.

"The most successful human survivors – who provided most of the DNA for modern Europeans – were nomads from the Black Sea region. The Gravettians had never had trees, so they invented mammoth-skin tents, held up by salvaged mammoth ribs. They also developed spear-throwers, to kill the huge beasts from a safe distance.

"Equally important, Gravettians domesticated and bred wolves, to protect their tents from marauders, locate game animals on the broad tundra, and harry the prey into defensive clusters for easier killing. The scarcity of food in that Glacial Maximum intensified the dogs’ appreciation for the bones and bone marrow at the human camps.

"When that Ice Age ended, moreover, CO2 changes didn’t lead the warming. The atmospheric CO2 only began to recover about 800 years after the warming started.

***

"Our crop plants evolved about 400 million years ago, when CO2 in the atmosphere was about 5000 parts per million! Our evergreen trees and shrubs evolved about 360 million years ago, with CO2 levels at about 4,000 ppm. When our deciduous trees evolved about 160 million years ago, the CO2 level was about 2,200 ppm – still five times the current level.

***

"Human numbers, moreover, expanded strongly during the Holocene Optimum, with temperatures 4 degrees C higher than today! Even now, residents of the tropics keep demonstrating that humans can tolerate much higher temperatures than most of us experience. (As we utilize the new malaria vaccine, the tropics will prosper even more.) And far more people die from “too cold” than from “too warm.'”

Comment: Global warming worries are shown to be scientifically stupid:

"Statistician Bjorn Lomborg had already pointed out that the Paris CO2 emission promises would cost $100 trillion dollars that no one has, and make only a 0.05 degree difference in Earth’s 2100 AD temperature. Others say perhaps a 0.2 degree C (0.3 degrees F) difference, and even that would hold only in the highly unlikely event that all parties actually kept their voluntary pledges."

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Sunday, June 04, 2017, 18:22 (169 days ago) @ dhw

In response to my attempt at summarizing the process you write:

DAVID: None of this fits my view of the brain/consciousness relationship as explained above. Whatever is your previously learned philosophic interpretation of dualism is getting in the way of understanding my concept, based on the brain as a receiver of a mechanism called consciousness, which none of us understand what it is or how it works, but we work with it constantly. It doesn't forcefully run my thoughts, I do.

dhw: Once again, you, your self, your mind, your consciousness, your thoughts are all one, according to your belief in an afterlife in which you, your self, your consciousness and your thoughts exist but your brain doesn’t. Yes, the brain is the receiver not the generator of thought. It has been demonstrated that thought changes the structure of the brain (densifying) and not the other way round. It therefore seems logical that the same process would apply to size – that thought led to size and size did not lead to thought.

Thoughts did not cause a giant jump in size of 200cc to reach H. sapiens. Not that much thought was required at that time. Simple language and an athletic hunting lifestyle was not that complex. You are again hypothesizing an internal drive that makes no sense. We have no known proof of how speciation works except the historical record. I prefer an external drive, God.

dhw: I’m not disputing the first part of your comment, up until “20,000 years ago…”, but you are missing out all the stages that led to the brain of 200,000 years ago. This is why earlier conceptualizations are so important. Somewhere along the evolutionary line, we get a (God-given?) small brain. Let’s take that as our starting point. If consciousness (not the brain) is the source of conceptualization, and if thought influences the structure of the brain – as shown by the article you quoted – you would have had a sequence of expansions as consciousness came up with new ideas. Conscious use demands a bigger brain, i.e. use leads to expansion: use first, size second. 200,000 years ago, expansion ends. So yes of course that final size comes before all later uses of the brain, but each expansion has been the RESULT of conceptualization, not the CAUSE, because – according to you - the brain is only a receiver and not a generator. Having reached its maximum size, the brain is then used by you/consciousness according to whatever information it provides, and when it can no longer accommodate all the new thoughts of consciousness, it densifies.

The problem with your scenario is that jumps obviously preceded use. Each level of hominin lifestyle was more complex, after each jump.


dhw: May I now ask how you know that densification only began 20,000 years ago? If this is true and, to take one extremely important example, if human language really did emerge 50,000 years ago along with changes to the vocal tracts, I find it quite astonishing that there was no densifying or restructuring of the brain at that time. How has this been established?

You didn't see this entry: Saturday, June 03, 2017, 02:21 :

http://discovermagazine.com/2010/sep/25-modern-humans-smart-why-brain-shrinking

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Monday, June 05, 2017, 13:17 (169 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Whatever is your previously learned philosophic interpretation of dualism is getting in the way of understanding my concept, based on the brain as a receiver of a mechanism called consciousness, which none of us understand what it is or how it works, but we work with it constantly. It doesn't forcefully run my thoughts, I do.
dhw: Once again, you, your self, your mind, your consciousness, your thoughts are all one, according to your belief in an afterlife in which you, your self, your consciousness and your thoughts exist but your brain doesn’t. Yes, the brain is the receiver not the generator of thought. It has been demonstrated that thought changes the structure of the brain (densifying) and not the other way round. It therefore seems logical that the same process would apply to size – that thought led to size and size did not lead to thought.
DAVID: Thoughts did not cause a giant jump in size of 200cc to reach H. sapiens. Not that much thought was required at that time. Simple language and an athletic hunting lifestyle was not that complex. You are again hypothesizing an internal drive that makes no sense. We have no known proof of how speciation works except the historical record. I prefer an external drive, God.

I don’t know why you keep talking about internal and external drives when you know full well that my hypothesis allows for your God. You continue to ignore your own avowed belief that consciousness and the self can exist independently of the brain, which is only a receiver. If you truly believe this, I simply cannot understand how you can also believe that consciousness and the self are incapable of increased conceptualization until the receiver brain increases its size.

DAVID: The problem with your scenario is that jumps obviously preceded use. Each level of hominin lifestyle was more complex, after each jump.

That is the issue. If consciousness is the generator of concepts, each level of lifestyle would be a new concept, and for that new concept to become reality, it would require a change in the brain (initially size, and later densification). The concept would precede the implementation, just as reading and writing are the concept, and the implementation causes a change in the brain. Concept (of new lifestyle) first, brain change and implementation second.

dhw: May I now ask how you know that densification only began 20,000 years ago? If this is true and, to take one extremely important example, if human language really did emerge 50,000 years ago along with changes to the vocal tracts, I find it quite astonishing that there was no densifying or restructuring of the brain at that time. How has this been established?

DAVID: You didn't see this entry: Saturday, June 03, 2017, 02:21 :
http://discovermagazine.com/2010/sep/25-modern-humans-smart-why-brain-shrinking

I did see it, and it doesn’t answer my question. I understand perfectly well how science can measure the SIZE of the brain, but that doesn’t mean that there were no changes within the brain before it started shrinking. Perhaps this is a problem of semantics, though. I do not see densification as shrinkage but as complexification. If this is technically incorrect, then I’ll use the latter term. For example, the concept of killing prey with a throwable shaft that has a sharp tip would require a new use of brain and hands and various muscles in order to manufacture and use the shaft. Perhaps this would require an expansion of the brain (a leap), or alternatively there could be new wiring among existing cells (= densification/complexification), without expansion. It is this second scenario that I am asking about here – generally, not just in relation to tools: how can we know that once the brain had reached its homo sapiens size, there was no densification (complexification) during the 180,000 years that preceded shrinkage, e.g. during the evolution of language?

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Monday, June 05, 2017, 15:10 (168 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Thoughts did not cause a giant jump in size of 200cc to reach H. sapiens. Not that much thought was required at that time. Simple language and an athletic hunting lifestyle was not that complex. You are again hypothesizing an internal drive that makes no sense. We have no known proof of how speciation works except the historical record. I prefer an external drive, God.

dhw: I don’t know why you keep talking about internal and external drives when you know full well that my hypothesis allows for your God. You continue to ignore your own avowed belief that consciousness and the self can exist independently of the brain, which is only a receiver. If you truly believe this, I simply cannot understand how you can also believe that consciousness and the self are incapable of increased conceptualization until the receiver brain increases its size.

My thoughts come from the fact that chimps are conscious with their 400cc brain, but do not show evidence of consciousness. Consciousness appeared as brain size grew, and more complex use of the brain (based on demonstrated activities of daily living) appeared with each jump in brain size. In H sapiens full use appears to have taken place over 200,000 years, and caused the brain size to densify and shrink a little.


DAVID: The problem with your scenario is that jumps obviously preceded use. Each level of hominin lifestyle was more complex, after each jump.

dhw: That is the issue. If consciousness is the generator of concepts, each level of lifestyle would be a new concept, and for that new concept to become reality, it would require a change in the brain (initially size, and later densification). The concept would precede the implementation, just as reading and writing are the concept, and the implementation causes a change in the brain. Concept (of new lifestyle) first, brain change and implementation second.

You have it all backward as explained in my comment above.


dhw: May I now ask how you know that densification only began 20,000 years ago? If this is true and, to take one extremely important example, if human language really did emerge 50,000 years ago along with changes to the vocal tracts, I find it quite astonishing that there was no densifying or restructuring of the brain at that time. How has this been established?

DAVID: You didn't see this entry: Saturday, June 03, 2017, 02:21 :
http://discovermagazine.com/2010/sep/25-modern-humans-smart-why-brain-shrinking

dhw: I did see it, and it doesn’t answer my question. I understand perfectly well how science can measure the SIZE of the brain, but that doesn’t mean that there were no changes within the brain before it started shrinking. Perhaps this is a problem of semantics, though. I do not see densification as shrinkage but as complexification.

Of course density is result of complexification. Quite correct.

dhw: For example, the concept of killing prey with a throwable shaft that has a sharp tip would require a new use of brain and hands and various muscles in order to manufacture and use the shaft. Perhaps this would require an expansion of the brain (a leap), or alternatively there could be new wiring among existing cells (= densification/complexification), without expansion. It is this second scenario that I am asking about here – generally, not just in relation to tools: how can we know that once the brain had reached its homo sapiens size, there was no densification (complexification) during the 180,000 years that preceded shrinkage, e.g. during the evolution of language?

Of course there was a degree of complexification during the first 189,000 years of H sapiens, but a critical mass of complexity to cause densification only came 11,700 years ago. And since then the brain has been used in massive new ways. Civilization as we know it is less than 10,000 years old!

Evolution and humans: recent new asctivities

by David Turell @, Monday, June 05, 2017, 18:29 (168 days ago) @ David Turell

A Dead Sea core analysis going back 220,000 years covers the time of H. sapiens. Evidence about the past 11,500 years uncovered:

https://phys.org/news/2017-06-earliest-manmade-climate-years.html

"The vast majority of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century have been due to human activities. A new Tel Aviv University study has uncovered the earliest known geological indications of manmade climate change from 11,500 years ago. Within a core sample retrieved from the Dead Sea, researchers discovered basin-wide erosion rates dramatically incompatible with known tectonic and climatic regimes of the period recorded.

"'Human impact on the natural environment is now endangering the entire planet," said Prof. Shmuel Marco, Head of TAU's School of Geosciences, who led the research team. "It is therefore crucial to understand these fundamental processes. Our discovery provides a quantitative assessment for the commencement of significant human impact on the Earth's geology and ecosystems." The results of the study were published in Global and Planetary Change.

***

"It took place as part of the Dead Sea Deep Drilling project, which harnessed a 1,500-foot-deep drill core to delve into the Dead Sea basin. The core sample provided the team with a sediment record of the last 220,000 years.

"The newly-discovered erosion occurred during the Neolithic Revolution, the wide-scale transition of human cultures from hunting and gathering to agriculture and settlement. The shift resulted in an exponentially larger human population on the planet.

"'Natural vegetation was replaced by crops, animals were domesticated, grazing reduced the natural plant cover, and deforestation provided more area for grazing," said Prof. Marco. "All these resulted in the intensified erosion of the surface and increased sedimentation, which we discovered in the Dead Sea core sample."

"The Dead Sea drainage basin serves as a natural laboratory for understanding how sedimentation rates in a deep basin are related to climate change, tectonics, and man-made impacts on the landscape.

"'We noted a sharp threefold increase in the fine sand that was carried into the Dead Sea by seasonal floods," said Prof. Marco. "This intensified erosion is incompatible with tectonic and climatic regimes during the Holocene, the geological epoch that began after the Pleistocene some 11,700 years ago.'"

Comment: those past 11,500 years is when humans really discovered how to make the best use of their very large brain. This period is right after the end of the last glacial period.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Tuesday, June 06, 2017, 15:14 (167 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: You continue to ignore your own avowed belief that consciousness and the self can exist independently of the brain, which is only a receiver. If you truly believe this, I simply cannot understand how you can also believe that consciousness and the self are incapable of increased conceptualization until the receiver brain increases its size.
DAVID: My thoughts come from the fact that chimps are conscious with their 400cc brain, but do not show evidence of consciousness. Consciousness appeared as brain size grew, and more complex use of the brain (based on demonstrated activities of daily living) appeared with each jump in brain size. In H sapiens full use appears to have taken place over 200,000 years, and caused the brain size to densify and shrink a little.

You could hardly make it clearer that you believe the (expanded) brain was the source of (expanded) consciousness. It may well have been. Congratulations on your decisive embrace of materialism. Unfortunately, this totally contradicts your other belief that consciousness is an entity separate from the brain and the body, comes from God (not from the brain, which is only a receiver), and returns to God complete with your identity once the brain and body are dead. You can only remove this contradiction if you argue that the jumps and complexities were the result and not the cause of increased consciousness.

dhw: For example, the concept of killing prey with a throwable shaft that has a sharp tip would require a new use of brain and hands and various muscles in order to manufacture and use the shaft. Perhaps this would require an expansion of the brain (a leap), or alternatively there could be new wiring among existing cells (= densification/complexification), without expansion. It is this second scenario that I am asking about here – generally, not just in relation to tools: how can we know that once the brain had reached its homo sapiens size, there was no densification (complexification) during the 180,000 years that preceded shrinkage, e.g. during the evolution of language?
DAVID: Of course there was a degree of complexification during the first 189,000 years of H sapiens, but a critical mass of complexity to cause densification only came 11,700 years ago. And since then the brain has been used in massive new ways. Civilization as we know it is less than 10,000 years old!

Thank you. The brain reached its maximum size 200,000 years ago, and apparently there was a degree of densification/complexification for 188,300 years, then an unexplained intensification of densification/complexification 11,700 years ago. (Wonderful language, this, and amazing mathematical precision!) Having already hung around for 188,300 years doing a “degree” of complexifying, the big brain can hardly have been the cause of the sudden intensification, so this can only have come about through an increase in consciousness which caused complexification because the brain could no longer expand in response to the uses which consciousness demanded of it. Ergo, increased consciousness does not depend on increased size of the brain. Go back to the beginning: just as increased consciousness causes complexification, it must also have caused expansion.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Tuesday, June 06, 2017, 17:41 (167 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: My thoughts come from the fact that chimps are conscious with their 400cc brain, but do not show evidence of consciousness. Consciousness appeared as brain size grew, and more complex use of the brain (based on demonstrated activities of daily living) appeared with each jump in brain size. In H sapiens full use appears to have taken place over 200,000 years, and caused the brain size to densify and shrink a little.

dhw: You could hardly make it clearer that you believe the (expanded) brain was the source of (expanded) consciousness. It may well have been. Congratulations on your decisive embrace of materialism. Unfortunately, this totally contradicts your other belief that consciousness is an entity separate from the brain and the body, comes from God (not from the brain, which is only a receiver), and returns to God complete with your identity once the brain and body are dead.

You have continued to completely misunderstand my theory. A larger brain as a receiver developed an expanded use of the consciousness mechanism (immaterial) because of its size and increased complexity. A smaller earlier brain could only use a smaller amount of consciousness. Use of consciousness is a learned process. Logical thinking is a learned process:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/exclusive-test-data-many-colleges-fail-to-improve-critical...

"Freshmen and seniors at about 200 colleges across the U.S. take a little-known test every year to measure how much better they get at learning to think. The results are discouraging.
At more than half of schools, at least a third of seniors were unable to make a cohesive argument, assess the quality of evidence in a document or interpret data in a table, The Wall Street Journal found after reviewing the latest results from dozens of public colleges and universities that gave the exam between 2013 and 2016. (See full results.)
At some of the most prestigious flagship universities, test results indicate the average graduate shows little or no improvement in critical thinking over four years."

dhw: You can only remove this contradiction if you argue that the jumps and complexities were the result and not the cause of increased consciousness.

Opposite to my belief. Larger brain receives more consciousness and learns to use it more extensively all through human evolution.


DAVID: Of course there was a degree of complexification during the first 189,000 years of H sapiens, but a critical mass of complexity to cause densification only came 11,700 years ago. And since then the brain has been used in massive new ways. Civilization as we know it is less than 10,000 years old!

dhw: Thank you. The brain reached its maximum size 200,000 years ago, and apparently there was a degree of densification/complexification for 188,300 years, then an unexplained intensification of densification/complexification 11,700 years ago. (Wonderful language, this, and amazing mathematical precision!) Having already hung around for 188,300 years doing a “degree” of complexifying, the big brain can hardly have been the cause of the sudden intensification, so this can only have come about through an increase in consciousness which caused complexification because the brain could no longer expand in response to the uses which consciousness demanded of it. Ergo, increased consciousness does not depend on increased size of the brain. Go back to the beginning: just as increased consciousness causes complexification, it must also have caused expansion.

Totally backward. The brain receives consciousness as a mechanism and learns to use it. Consciousness is barely present in a newborn. The 25 year old has a fully developed use of consciousness. The pattern is the same as in the appearance of H. sapiens 200,000 years ago. Look at your twins. The pattern is right in front of you.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Wednesday, June 07, 2017, 14:11 (167 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID (under “before or after?”): Now we have our pre-sapiens conceptualizing their need for bigger brains so they can handle their lives a little better, or better than that a lot better. Bigger skull, bigger frontal lobe, please, and then mirabile dictu it appears!

No, no, no, no! The expansion is the result of mental exercise, just as muscle expansion is the result of physical exercise. Pre-sapiens conceptualized the spear, and this required new skills which could only be implemented by an addition to the brain (expansion). You drew attention to the following: “A study of illiterate 30-year-old Indian women has shown they can learn to read quickly and the brain rewires itself in the process….” The women said: “I want to read,” not: “I want to rewire my brain.” The “concept” was reading, and in implementing the concept, they changed the structure of the brain. Concept first, rewiring second. I am proposing that the same process resulted in the expansion of the brain, as in the spear example, with someone thinking: “I want to make a weapon,” not: “I want to enlarge my brain.” And when the brain had reached its maximum size, rewiring/complexification/ densification was the new way forward. (NB as usual, this does not in any way exclude your God, who may have designed the whole process.)

dhw: You could hardly make it clearer that you believe the (expanded) brain was the source of (expanded) consciousness. It may well have been. Congratulations on your decisive embrace of materialism. Unfortunately, this totally contradicts your other belief that consciousness is an entity separate from the brain and the body, comes from God (not from the brain, which is only a receiver), and returns to God complete with your identity once the brain and body are dead.
DAVID: You have continued to completely misunderstand my theory. A larger brain as a receiver developed an expanded use of the consciousness mechanism (immaterial) because of its size and increased complexity. A smaller earlier brain could only use a smaller amount of consciousness.

We are both wrestling with something immensely complex, and we are only dealing with one side of the materialism versus dualism debate! The basic question here is: do you believe the brain uses you/your consciousness, or do you/your consciousness use the brain? “You”, according to your beliefs, are your consciousness and not your brain, because the conscious “you” survives the death of the brain. This can only mean that you/your consciousness use your brain.

DAVID: Use of consciousness is a learned process. Logical thinking is a learned process:

Agreed, but according to your beliefs, it is not the brain that does the learning. That is done by “you”/your consciousness. How else could your consciousness survive the death of the brain along with everything that you/your consciousness have learned?

DAVID: The brain receives consciousness as a mechanism and learns to use it. Consciousness is barely present in a newborn. The 25 year old has a fully developed use of consciousness. The pattern is the same as in the appearance of H. sapiens 200,000 years ago. Look at your twins. The pattern is right in front of you.

Consciousness has to be conscious of something. A baby is born with a minimum of information – you might say that its consciousness is confined to its mother’s breast and its own bodily needs. As the brain matures, it provides more and more information (e.g. through the senses) which consciousness processes and uses, and consciousness in turn uses the brain to implement communication, decisions, actions resulting from its processing of the information. A 25-year-old has a fully developed brain, but I would question whether anyone in this wide world has a fully developed “use of consciousness”. The students in your example (too long to quote again) were incapable of critical thinking because their consciousness was not sufficiently developed, and not because their brains were not large enough. Had they learned to think critically, perhaps their brains would have undergone some rewiring, as with the illiterate women (whose rewiring was the result of their reading, not the cause).

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Wednesday, June 07, 2017, 18:09 (166 days ago) @ dhw


No, no, no, no! The expansion is the result of mental exercise, just as muscle expansion is the result of physical exercise. Pre-sapiens conceptualized the spear, and this required new skills which could only be implemented by an addition to the brain (expansion). You drew attention to the following: “A study of illiterate 30-year-old Indian women has shown they can learn to read quickly and the brain rewires itself in the process….” The women said: “I want to read,” not: “I want to rewire my brain.” The “concept” was reading, and in implementing the concept, they changed the structure of the brain. Concept first, rewiring second.

Concept first, rewiring second is correct,

dhw: I am proposing that the same process resulted in the expansion of the brain, as in the spear example, with someone thinking: “I want to make a weapon,” not: “I want to enlarge my brain.” And when the brain had reached its maximum size, rewiring/complexification/ densification was the new way forward.

We have no proof that thinking concepts enlarges the brain. What we have is a little used H. sapiens brain from 200,000 years ago finally being completely used in the past 10-12,000 years of real civilization and the brain densifies and shrinks, all the opposite of your struggling theory to find an internal drive, not an external change by God.

DAVID: You have continued to completely misunderstand my theory. A larger brain as a receiver developed an expanded use of the consciousness mechanism (immaterial) because of its size and increased complexity. A smaller earlier brain could only use a smaller amount of consciousness.

We are both wrestling with something immensely complex, and we are only dealing with one side of the materialism versus dualism debate! The basic question here is: do you believe the brain uses you/your consciousness, or do you/your consciousness use the brain? “You”, according to your beliefs, are your consciousness and not your brain, because the conscious “you” survives the death of the brain. This can only mean that you/your consciousness use your brain.

Yes, my brain receives a consciousness mechanism and I, through use of my brain, mold my consciousness to resemble and become my personality, me. It is all seamless once it begins as an infant.


DAVID: Use of consciousness is a learned process. Logical thinking is a learned process:

dhw: Agreed, but according to your beliefs, it is not the brain that does the learning. That is done by “you”/your consciousness. How else could your consciousness survive the death of the brain along with everything that you/your consciousness have learned?

Yes.


DAVID: The brain receives consciousness as a mechanism and learns to use it. Consciousness is barely present in a newborn. The 25 year old has a fully developed use of consciousness. The pattern is the same as in the appearance of H. sapiens 200,000 years ago. Look at your twins. The pattern is right in front of you.

dhw: Consciousness has to be conscious of something. A baby is born with a minimum of information – you might say that its consciousness is confined to its mother’s breast and its own bodily needs.

All the original conscious actions by a baby are automatic instinct, which it then learns to take charge of and control.

dhw: As the brain matures, it provides more and more information (e.g. through the senses) which consciousness processes and uses, and consciousness in turn uses the brain to implement communication, decisions, actions resulting from its processing of the information. A 25-year-old has a fully developed brain, but I would question whether anyone in this wide world has a fully developed “use of consciousness”. The students in your example (too long to quote again) were incapable of critical thinking because their consciousness was not sufficiently developed, and not because their brains were not large enough. Had they learned to think critically, perhaps their brains would have undergone some rewiring, as with the illiterate women (whose rewiring was the result of their reading, not the cause).

All true. There may be conceptual areas not yet explored by humans.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Thursday, June 08, 2017, 12:37 (166 days ago) @ David Turell

Dhw: The women said: “I want to read,” not: “I want to rewire my brain.” The “concept” was reading, and in implementing the concept, they changed the structure of the brain. Concept first, rewiring second.
DAVID: Concept first, rewiring second is correct.

Thank you.

dhw: I am proposing that the same process resulted in the expansion of the brain, as in the spear example, with someone thinking: “I want to make a weapon,” not: “I want to enlarge my brain.” And when the brain had reached its maximum size, rewiring/complexification/ densification was the new way forward.
DAVID: We have no proof that thinking concepts enlarges the brain.

We have no proof that your God fiddled with the brain to enlarge it, or that the enlargement of the brain was the CAUSE of conceptualization, but you seem to believe it. And you may well be right, but that makes you a materialist. We do, however, have proof that “thinking concepts” causes changes to the brain, so why assume that 200,001+ years ago changes to the brain caused the thinking of concepts, and 200,000 years ago the process was reversed?

DAVID: What we have is a little used H. sapiens brain from 200,000 years ago finally being completely used in the past 10-12,000 years of real civilization and the brain densifies and shrinks, all the opposite of your struggling theory to find an internal drive, not an external change by God.

You make it sound as if your personal belief is somehow the default position! The densifying of the brain is living proof that thought precedes structural change, and so that is quite clearly an internal drive. It may have been devised by your God (the external force), just like the process of thought enlarging the brain. The fact that the brain had reached maximum size 200,000 years ago and thereafter needed to densify rather than expand offers us a seamless process of thought expanding and then densifying the brain. As above, your theory has the brain changing before it can conceptualize, and then suddenly you reverse the process and have conceptualization changing the brain. Not much logic in that. The rest of your post acknowledges the correctness of all my arguments, so in fact your only objection to my hypothesis is that it isn’t yours. As I keep reminding you, mine is the only one that conforms to your dualistic scenario in which consciousness/the self uses the brain and - crucially for your beliefs - survives its death. (But once more, I am not taking sides in the dualism versus materialism debate.)

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Thursday, June 08, 2017, 16:35 (165 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: We have no proof that thinking concepts enlarges the brain.

dhw: We have no proof that your God fiddled with the brain to enlarge it, or that the enlargement of the brain was the CAUSE of conceptualization, but you seem to believe it. And you may well be right, but that makes you a materialist.

Your statement is wrong as to my view. A larger brain allowed a more complex use of consciousness and therefore allowed complex conceptualizations to appear, if desired by the human using his brain. Not a cause, not required.

dhw: We do, however, have proof that “thinking concepts” causes changes to the brain, so why assume that 200,001+ years ago changes to the brain caused the thinking of concepts, and 200,000 years ago the process was reversed?

Again backwards. A big brain allows for more complexity of thought, but does not cause it. One must look at how the humans lived and what they were required to do to survive. Humans were still stone age until 10,000 years ago, and American Indians until 400 years ago when Eastern people arrived and showed them some differences! Little advanced meditation was required. Hunt, gather, interact in small groups, early religious thought, domestication of animals. The advanced thinking that began to appear has recently made the brain slightly smaller. One cannot turn that around because the recent change occurs within the same species, not a way to compare to the big jumps in size as hominins advanced to humans. That would imply small brain size changes in fossils as they advanced, not found.


DAVID: What we have is a little used H. sapiens brain from 200,000 years ago finally being completely used in the past 10-12,000 years of real civilization and the brain densifies and shrinks, all the opposite of your struggling theory to find an internal drive, not an external change by God.

dhw: You make it sound as if your personal belief is somehow the default position! The densifying of the brain is living proof that thought precedes structural change, and so that is quite clearly an internal drive. It may have been devised by your God (the external force), just like the process of thought enlarging the brain. The fact that the brain had reached maximum size 200,000 years ago and thereafter needed to densify rather than expand offers us a seamless process of thought expanding and then densifying the brain. As above, your theory has the brain changing before it can conceptualize, and then suddenly you reverse the process and have conceptualization changing the brain. Not much logic in that. The rest of your post acknowledges the correctness of all my arguments, so in fact your only objection to my hypothesis is that it isn’t yours.

A total mischaracterization of my view. See above.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Friday, June 09, 2017, 19:07 (164 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: We have no proof that thinking concepts enlarges the brain.
dhw: We have no proof that your God fiddled with the brain to enlarge it, or that the enlargement of the brain was the CAUSE of conceptualization, but you seem to believe it. And you may well be right, but that makes you a materialist.
DAVID: Your statement is wrong as to my view. A larger brain allowed a more complex use of consciousness and therefore allowed complex conceptualizations to appear, if desired by the human using his brain. Not a cause, not required.

What do you mean by “allow”? If, as you believe, consciousness and the self are entities that are independent of the brain, you cannot possibly mean that consciousness and the self are incapable of conceptualization without the brain. What the brain does “allow” is for concept to be translated into action, but this means the concept must come first. The illiterate women desired the complex concept of reading, and this RESULTED in their using and restructuring their brain. You are now saying that the big brain does not cause conceptualization, so what DOES it do? With all your references to the mysterious gap of 190,000 years (possibly now increased to 290,000 years), the answer seems to be that it does precious little. It is simply there. And presumably the brain saltations in pre-humans also served little or no purpose. Just God expanding the brain clump by clump up to the 200,000-year mark so that eventually, after another 190,000 years, homo sapiens would “learn to use” the final biggie, by which time it was inadequate! And then concepts came BEFORE structural change (densification)! All of this as you describe here:

DAVID: What we have is a little used H. sapiens brain from 200,000 years ago finally being completely used in the past 10-12,000 years of real civilization and the brain densifies and shrinks, all the opposite of your struggling theory to find an internal drive, not an external change by God.

dhw: You make it sound as if your personal belief is somehow the default position! The densifying of the brain is living proof that thought precedes structural change, and so that is quite clearly an internal drive. It may have been devised by your God (the external force), just like the process of thought enlarging the brain. The fact that the brain had reached maximum size 200,000 years ago and thereafter needed to densify rather than expand offers us a seamless process of thought expanding and then densifying the brain. As above, your theory has the brain changing before [consciousness] can conceptualize, and then suddenly you reverse the process and have conceptualization changing the brain. Not much logic in that.

DAVID: A total mischaracterization of my view. See above.

Is the rewiring not an internal drive (though perhaps the process was designed by your God)? Does conceptualizing not precede the rewiring? Is it not a reversal of this known process to say that enlargement must precede conceptualization?

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Friday, June 09, 2017, 22:10 (164 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Your statement is wrong as to my view. A larger brain allowed a more complex use of consciousness and therefore allowed complex conceptualizations to appear, if desired by the human using his brain. Not a cause, not required.

dhw: What do you mean by “allow”? If, as you believe, consciousness and the self are entities that are independent of the brain, you cannot possibly mean that consciousness and the self are incapable of conceptualization without the brain. What the brain does “allow” is for concept to be translated into action, but this means the concept must come first.

I view the brain as my tool to use consciousness. I invent my concepts in my brain using my consciousness. In the NDE, the non-functional brain releases the consciousness which then has experiences, and when the consciousness return to the brain, the brain is able to transmit to me what happened during the NDE.

dhw: The illiterate women desired the complex concept of reading, and this RESULTED in their using and restructuring their brain. You are now saying that the big brain does not cause conceptualization, so what DOES it do? With all your references to the mysterious gap of 190,000 years (possibly now increased to 290,000 years), the answer seems to be that it does precious little.

For some reason you are not following what I write. Read my first statement as an answer to your comment:

dhw: We have no proof that your God fiddled with the brain to enlarge it, or that the enlargement of the brain was the CAUSE of conceptualization, but you seem to believe it.

The use of the big brain had to learned and its use in conceptualization exloded in the past 12,000 years, and only then did the brain shrink.

dhw: It is simply there. And presumably the brain saltations in pre-humans also served little or no purpose. Just God expanding the brain clump by clump up to the 200,000-year mark so that eventually, after another 190,000 years, homo sapiens would “learn to use” the final biggie, by which time it was inadequate!

What was inadequate? It is perfectly adequate for us.


dhw: Is the rewiring not an internal drive (though perhaps the process was designed by your God)? Does conceptualizing not precede the rewiring? Is it not a reversal of this known process to say that enlargement must precede conceptualization?

The rewiring is recent once the brain is under much more complex use. 190,000 years of hunter-gatherer use and 12,000 years of much more complex use and then it shrinks. Why do you extrapolate backwards?

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Saturday, June 10, 2017, 11:53 (164 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Your statement is wrong as to my view. A larger brain allowed a more complex use of consciousness and therefore allowed complex conceptualizations to appear, if desired by the human using his brain. Not a cause, not required.
dhw: What do you mean by “allow”? If, as you believe, consciousness and the self are entities that are independent of the brain, you cannot possibly mean that consciousness and the self are incapable of conceptualization without the brain. What the brain does “allow” is for concept to be translated into action, but this means the concept must come first.
DAVID: I view the brain as my tool to use consciousness. I invent my concepts in my brain using my consciousness. In the NDE, the non-functional brain releases the consciousness which then has experiences, and when the consciousness return to the brain, the brain is able to transmit to me what happened during the NDE.

But you are as usual ignoring your own professed belief that there is an afterlife, and when you die, your self and your consciousness will survive the death of your brain! This means that you and your consciousness are an entity, as you keep admitting and then somehow forgetting. So it is you/your consciousness that invent your concepts and use your brain as a tool. And in the NDE it can only be you/your consciousness that transmit to your brain what happened to you during the NDE so that you/your consciousness can instruct your brain to perform the actions needed in order to tell other people about it.

dhw: The illiterate women desired the complex concept of reading, and this RESULTED in their using and restructuring their brain. You are now saying that the big brain does not cause conceptualization, so what DOES it do? With all your references to the mysterious gap of 190,000 years (possibly now increased to 290,000 years), the answer seems to be that it does precious little.
DAVID: For some reason you are not following what I write. Read my first statement as an answer to your comment:

You are right, I cannot follow at all. Read my first statement in answer to your first statement.

DAVID: The use of the big brain had to learned and its use in conceptualization exloded in the past 12,000 years, and only then did the brain shrink.

I agree: consciousness/the self learns to use the brain. And so I would start with the brain, not the big brain. As consciousness increased, pre-humans and then humans learned to use their brains, which expanded in accordance with new demands (= concepts conceived by consciousness). 200,000 years ago, the brain reached its big brain maximum. An explosion of concepts 12,000 years ago required restructuring of the brain, but as it could not expand, the restructuring had to be internal complexification (rewiring), which actually reduced the necessity for “size”.

dhw: …It is simply there. And presumably the brain saltations in pre-humans also served little or no purpose. Just God expanding the brain clump by clump up to the 200,000-year mark so that eventually, after another 190,000 years, homo sapiens would “learn to use” the final biggie, by which time it was inadequate!
DAVID: What was inadequate? It is perfectly adequate for us.

The brain cannot expand any more, and so in order to accommodate new concepts it has to keep rewiring itself.

dhw: Is the rewiring not an internal drive (though perhaps the process was designed by your God)? Does conceptualizing not precede the rewiring? Is it not a reversal of this known process to say that enlargement must precede conceptualization?
DAVID: The rewiring is recent once the brain is under much more complex use. 190,000 years of hunter-gatherer use and 12,000 years of much more complex use and then it shrinks. Why do you extrapolate backwards?

You claim that brain enlargement preceded conceptualization, but shrinkage denotes that rewiring replaced enlargement, and we know rewiring follows on from conceptualization. Your scenario therefore has restructuring (enlargement) followed by conceptualization; then you have conceptualization followed by restructuring (rewiring) – a reversal of the process.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Saturday, June 10, 2017, 19:26 (163 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: I view the brain as my tool to use consciousness. I invent my concepts in my brain using my consciousness. In the NDE, the non-functional brain releases the consciousness which then has experiences, and when the consciousness return to the brain, the brain is able to transmit to me what happened during the NDE.

dhw: But you are as usual ignoring your own professed belief that there is an afterlife, and when you die, your self and your consciousness will survive the death of your brain! This means that you and your consciousness are an entity, as you keep admitting and then somehow forgetting. So it is you/your consciousness that invent your concepts and use your brain as a tool. And in the NDE it can only be you/your consciousness that transmit to your brain what happened to you during the NDE so that you/your consciousness can instruct your brain to perform the actions needed in order to tell other people about it.

I am not forgetting that consciousness is an entity. It is me. And my brain is my tool to use my consciousness. I don't see your problem.

DAVID: For some reason you are not following what I write. Read my first statement as an answer to your comment:

dhw: You are right, I cannot follow at all. Read my first statement in answer to your first statement./

For some reason we are talking past each other.


DAVID: The use of the big brain had to learned and its use in conceptualization exloded in the past 12,000 years, and only then did the brain shrink.

dhw: I agree: consciousness/the self learns to use the brain. And so I would start with the brain, not the big brain. As consciousness increased, pre-humans and then humans learned to use their brains, which expanded in accordance with new demands (= concepts conceived by consciousness). 200,000 years ago, the brain reached its big brain maximum. An explosion of concepts 12,000 years ago required restructuring of the brain, but as it could not expand, the restructuring had to be internal complexification (rewiring), which actually reduced the necessity for “size”.

Right. The big brain of 200,000 years ago was not used like recently. Therefore when it appeared, it had lots of useful parts that had to learned to be used, specifically the frontal and prefrontal areas, which were the areas that had grown. The body function areas, the motor areas, the sensory areas, etc., were all in full function. Even now adolescents don't fully learn how to use those prefrontal areas until they are in their 20's.

DAVID: What was inadequate? It is perfectly adequate for us.

dhw: The brain cannot expand any more, and so in order to accommodate new concepts it has to keep rewiring itself.

Understood.


dhw: Is the rewiring not an internal drive (though perhaps the process was designed by your God)? Does conceptualizing not precede the rewiring? Is it not a reversal of this known process to say that enlargement must precede conceptualization?

DAVID: The rewiring is recent once the brain is under much more complex use. 190,000 years of hunter-gatherer use and 12,000 years of much more complex use and then it shrinks. Why do you extrapolate backwards?

dhw:You claim that brain enlargement preceded conceptualization, but shrinkage denotes that rewiring replaced enlargement, and we know rewiring follows on from conceptualization. Your scenario therefore has restructuring (enlargement) followed by conceptualization; then you have conceptualization followed by restructuring (rewiring) – a reversal of the process.

Exactly, and that is another reason I think evolution is over. The past had the brain enlarging for improvement as we went from hominin to Homo. Now with full size it shrinks as necessary for improvement..

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Sunday, June 11, 2017, 17:24 (162 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: I view the brain as my tool to use consciousness. I invent my concepts in my brain using my consciousness. In the NDE, the non-functional brain releases the consciousness which then has experiences, and when the consciousness return to the brain, the brain is able to transmit to me what happened during the NDE.
dhw: But you are as usual ignoring your own professed belief that there is an afterlife, and when you die, your self and your consciousness will survive the death of your brain! This means that you and your consciousness are an entity, as you keep admitting and then somehow forgetting. So it is you/your consciousness that invent your concepts and use your brain as a tool. And in the NDE it can only be you/your consciousness that transmit to your brain what happened to you during the NDE so that you/your consciousness can instruct your brain to perform the actions needed in order to tell other people about it.
DAVID: I am not forgetting that consciousness is an entity. It is me. And my brain is my tool to use my consciousness. I don't see your problem.

The claim that your brain transmitted to you what happened during the NDE was clearly topsy-turvy, since you/your consciousness had the experience and your brain wasn’t even there. However, the major problem was your statement that “a larger brain allowed a more complex use of consciousness and therefore allowed complex conceptualizations to appear.” This is somewhat ambiguous, but you have proposed that your God enlarged the brain and only then could humans come up with more complex concepts. That is the nub of this discussion. I would propose a different interpretation of “allow to appear”. Concepts are the product of the me/consciousness entity. That is clear from your view of the afterlife. But in order for them to “appear”, i.e. to take on form in the shape of words, actions, inventions, books etc. in our physical world, they require a brain. And so complex conceptualizations demand changes to the brain. It is not the pre-existing larger brain that allows me/consciousness to think new thoughts; it is new thoughts that demand a larger brain so that they can be transformed into sensory reality.

DAVID: The use of the big brain had to learned and its use in conceptualization exloded in the past 12,000 years, and only then did the brain shrink.
dhw: I agree: consciousness/the self learns to use the brain. And so I would start with the brain, not the big brain. As consciousness increased, pre-humans and then humans learned to use their brains, which expanded in accordance with new demands (= concepts conceived by consciousness). 200,000 years ago, the brain reached its big brain maximum. An explosion of concepts 12,000 years ago required restructuring of the brain, but as it could not expand, the restructuring had to be internal complexification (rewiring), which actually reduced the necessity for “size”.
DAVID: Right. The big brain of 200,000 years ago was not used like recently. Therefore when it appeared, it had lots of useful parts that had to learned to be used, specifically the frontal and prefrontal areas, which were the areas that had grown. The body function areas, the motor areas, the sensory areas, etc., were all in full function. Even now adolescents don't fully learn how to use those prefrontal areas until they are in their 20's.

We seem to be in agreement and yet not in agreement! Our fellow animals also have the areas you’ve listed, but presumably 200,000+ years ago we were already more self-aware and inventive than they were. (I’m again thinking of artefacts that require complex conceptualizations.) This is why I start with the brain and not with the larger brain. Conceptualization changes the brain. The brain does not anticipate conceptualization, and so pre-sapiens enlargement took place in stages, as needed by conceptualization, before it reached its maximum size. For 190,000 years, the maximum size could cope with any new concepts (you tell us there weren’t many), but then came the explosion and so in came densification.

dhw:You claim that brain enlargement preceded conceptualization, but shrinkage denotes that rewiring replaced enlargement, and we know rewiring follows on from conceptualization. Your scenario therefore has restructuring (enlargement) followed by conceptualization; then you have conceptualization followed by restructuring (rewiring) – a reversal of the process.
DAVID: Exactly, and that is another reason I think evolution is over. The past had the brain enlarging for improvement as we went from hominin to Homo. Now with full size it shrinks as necessary for improvement.

Whether evolution is over is another matter altogether, but I agree with the rest. However once more: if we are to be consistent (i.e. without the extraordinary reversal explained above), the enlargement takes place in response to conceptualization and not before it. Shrinkage is only a side effect because of the efficiency of densification, which just like enlargement occurs as a result of new concepts. But I like the word “improvement”, since I would regard this as just one example of how evolutionary complexity occurs because of the drive for improvement and not just for its own sake.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Sunday, June 11, 2017, 18:54 (162 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: The claim that your brain transmitted to you what happened during the NDE was clearly topsy-turvy, since you/your consciousness had the experience and your brain wasn’t even there.

Again you do not understand. My consciousness returns to my brain which is now again functional and the two entities interact and my brain now informs me of the NDE experience which the consciousness memory contains.

dhw: However, the major problem was your statement that “a larger brain allowed a more complex use of consciousness and therefore allowed complex conceptualizations to appear.” This is somewhat ambiguous, but you have proposed that your God enlarged the brain and only then could humans come up with more complex concepts. That is the nub of this discussion. I would propose a different interpretation of “allow to appear”. Concepts are the product of the me/consciousness entity. That is clear from your view of the afterlife. But in order for them to “appear”, i.e. to take on form in the shape of words, actions, inventions, books etc. in our physical world, they require a brain. And so complex conceptualizations demand changes to the brain. It is not the pre-existing larger brain that allows me/consciousness to think new thoughts; it is new thoughts that demand a larger brain so that they can be transformed into sensory reality.

Please see my discussion below. I have approached hominin brains as athletic brains solving the problems of survival as stone age hunter gatherers. The frontal and pre-frontal lobes are the conceptual areas, the rest of the brain is sensory and athletic. We got the big front end and started really using it 11,500 years ago.


DAVID: The use of the big brain had to learned and its use in conceptualization exloded in the past 12,000 years, and only then did the brain shrink.

dhw: I agree: consciousness/the self learns to use the brain. And so I would start with the brain, not the big brain. As consciousness increased, pre-humans and then humans learned to use their brains, which expanded in accordance with new demands (= concepts conceived by consciousness). 200,000 years ago, the brain reached its big brain maximum. An explosion of concepts 12,000 years ago required restructuring of the brain, but as it could not expand, the restructuring had to be internal complexification (rewiring), which actually reduced the necessity for “size”.

DAVID: Right. The big brain of 200,000 years ago was not used like recently. Therefore when it appeared, it had lots of useful parts that had to learned to be used, specifically the frontal and prefrontal areas, which were the areas that had grown. The body function areas, the motor areas, the sensory areas, etc., were all in full function. Even now adolescents don't fully learn how to use those prefrontal areas until they are in their 20's.

dhw: We seem to be in agreement and yet not in agreement! Our fellow animals also have the areas you’ve listed, but presumably 200,000+ years ago we were already more self-aware and inventive than they were. (I’m again thinking of artefacts that require complex conceptualizations.) This is why I start with the brain and not with the larger brain. Conceptualization changes the brain. The brain does not anticipate conceptualization, and so pre-sapiens enlargement took place in stages, as needed by conceptualization, before it reached its maximum size. For 190,000 years, the maximum size could cope with any new concepts (you tell us there weren’t many), but then came the explosion and so in came densification.

Generally we are close in your discussion. What I'm trying to get you to recognize is where brain growth occurred (frontal conceptual area), but was not actively used until recently and the brain densified and shrunk. Size first use second.


dhw:You claim that brain enlargement preceded conceptualization, but shrinkage denotes that rewiring replaced enlargement, and we know rewiring follows on from conceptualization. Your scenario therefore has restructuring (enlargement) followed by conceptualization; then you have conceptualization followed by restructuring (rewiring) – a reversal of the process.
DAVID: Exactly, and that is another reason I think evolution is over. The past had the brain enlarging for improvement as we went from hominin to Homo. Now with full size it shrinks as necessary for improvement.

dhw: Whether evolution is over is another matter altogether, but I agree with the rest. However once more: if we are to be consistent (i.e. without the extraordinary reversal explained above), the enlargement takes place in response to conceptualization and not before it. Shrinkage is only a side effect because of the efficiency of densification, which just like enlargement occurs as a result of new concepts. But I like the word “improvement”, since I would regard this as just one example of how evolutionary complexity occurs because of the drive for improvement and not just for its own sake.

200cc H. sapiens growth while working on the basic elements of survival. Not much drive for enlargement. Robert Wright's two books: Non-Zero and The Moral Animal which study mental development in Hunter-gatherers have deeply influenced me about survival and group dynamics development. All learned in the first 190,000 years before real civilization appeared. Size first, use second.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Monday, June 12, 2017, 12:36 (162 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: The claim that your brain transmitted to you what happened during the NDE was clearly topsy-turvy, since you/your consciousness had the experience and your brain wasn’t even there.
DAVID: Again you do not understand. My consciousness returns to my brain which is now again functional and the two entities interact and my brain now informs me of the NDE experience which the consciousness memory contains.

Again you insist on separating consciousness from “me”, although in your previous post you assured me that you were “not forgetting that consciousness is an entity. It is me.” It was the entity of consciousness/you that experienced the afterlife and then returned to and informed your brain so that your physical person could inform others of your experience. Your brain did not inform you/your consciousness of what you/your consciousness had experienced!

DAVID: Generally we are close in your discussion. What I'm trying to get you to recognize is where brain growth occurred (frontal conceptual area), but was not actively used until recently and the brain densified and shrunk. Size first use second.

The fact that it was the frontal cortex which expanded makes no difference to the argument. The question is what caused expansion, and I can only go back to the point I made before: the brain grew by stages when it was needed by new concepts, though you try to downgrade the achievements of pre-sapiens (e.g.homo erectus’s use of tools and weapons, fire, cooking). We know from recent discoveries that the Neanderthals were far more advanced than homo erectus, with clear elements of what we like to call “civilization”. They certainly conceptualized, and used the resultant big brains (even bigger than ours) to implement their concepts. And early homo sapiens also used his own now maximum sized frontal cortex. The earliest cave paintings go back about 40,000 years, so how can you claim that the conceptual area was not actively used until 10-12,000 years ago? But when the now maximum–sized brain could not cope with all the “recent” conceptualizations, it densified instead of growing, and we know that densification comes as a RESULT of conceptualization, not as a precondition for it. Concepts first, size second, use of size third, new concepts fourth, new size fifth, new use sixth etc. until maximum size, use of maximum size, new concepts, densification and shrinkage. A direct chain of cause and effect.

However, none of this explains the origin of consciousness, and so the conflict between dualism and materialism remains unresolved.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Monday, June 12, 2017, 16:59 (161 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: The claim that your brain transmitted to you what happened during the NDE was clearly topsy-turvy, since you/your consciousness had the experience and your brain wasn’t even there.
DAVID: Again you do not understand. My consciousness returns to my brain which is now again functional and the two entities interact and my brain now informs me of the NDE experience which the consciousness memory contains.

dhw: Again you insist on separating consciousness from “me”, although in your previous post you assured me that you were “not forgetting that consciousness is an entity. It is me.” It was the entity of consciousness/you that experienced the afterlife and then returned to and informed your brain so that your physical person could inform others of your experience. Your brain did not inform you/your consciousness of what you/your consciousness had experienced!

No separation: My consciousness (me) returned to my now functional brain after an NDE and my brain using my consciousness told me what happened during the NDE, which the brain was unaware of until the reconnection. This is where you get confused about how I look at this:

dhw: "Your brain did not inform you/your consciousness of what you/your consciousness had experienced!"


DAVID: Generally we are close in your discussion. What I'm trying to get you to recognize is where brain growth occurred (frontal conceptual area), but was not actively used until recently and the brain densified and shrunk. Size first use second.

dhw: The fact that it was the frontal cortex which expanded makes no difference to the argument. The question is what caused expansion, and I can only go back to the point I made before: the brain grew by stages when it was needed by new concepts, though you try to downgrade the achievements of pre-sapiens (e.g.homo erectus’s use of tools and weapons, fire, cooking). We know from recent discoveries that the Neanderthals were far more advanced than homo erectus, with clear elements of what we like to call “civilization”. They certainly conceptualized, and used the resultant big brains (even bigger than ours) to implement their concepts. And early homo sapiens also used his own now maximum sized frontal cortex. The earliest cave paintings go back about 40,000 years, so how can you claim that the conceptual area was not actively used until 10-12,000 years ago? But when the now maximum–sized brain could not cope with all the “recent” conceptualizations, it densified instead of growing, and we know that densification comes as a RESULT of conceptualization, not as a precondition for it. Concepts first, size second, use of size third, new concepts fourth, new size fifth, new use sixth etc. until maximum size, use of maximum size, new concepts, densification and shrinkage. A direct chain of cause and effect.

I views this as completely confused. Neanderthal brain size (slightly larger) appeared 350,000 ago or so. Their 'civilized behavior' is recent, not at that time. Cave art is 40,000 years ago, not 200,000 years ago. My reference to 12,000 years is an accepted time of real civilization with agriculture starting, followed by settlements, pictographs (Egyptian)alphabets, numerals and math, etc. Size first, use second.


dhw: However, none of this explains the origin of consciousness, and so the conflict between dualism and materialism remains unresolved.

Bigger brains, more useful consciousness, with each increase in frontal size, which was the major thrust of enlargement.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Tuesday, June 13, 2017, 11:23 (161 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: No separation: My consciousness (me) returned to my now functional brain after an NDE and my brain using my consciousness told me what happened during the NDE, which the brain was unaware of until the reconnection. This is where you get confused about how I look at this:
dhw: "Your brain did not inform you/your consciousness of what you/your consciousness had experienced!"

You keep agreeing that you and your consciousness are inseparable, and then you separate them again, with your brain “using” your consciousness (which is you) to tell you/your consciousness what you/your consciousness already know! It is you/your consciousness that know what happened, and it is you/your consciousness that inform the brain (so that it can organize passing on the information to other people's brains). The brain is unaware of what happened until it is informed by you/your consciousness.

dhw:. Concepts first, size second, use of size third, new concepts fourth, new size fifth, new use sixth etc. until maximum size, use of maximum size, new concepts, densification and shrinkage. A direct chain of cause and effect.
DAVID: I view this as completely confused. Neanderthal brain size (slightly larger) appeared 350,000 ago or so. Their 'civilized behavior' is recent, not at that time. Cave art is 40,000 years ago, not 200,000 years ago. My reference to 12,000 years is an accepted time of real civilization with agriculture starting, followed by settlements, pictographs (Egyptian) alphabets, numerals and math, etc. Size first, use second.

Yes, of course “use” (by which I mean the translation of concepts into material reality) follows size, but you are omitting concept and hence reducing three stages to two: concept, size, “use”. The big question is whether conceptualization precedes and therefore causes size, or size precedes and therefore causes conceptualization (but see below). The fact that conceptualization causes rewiring, and not the other way round, gives credence to your own belief that the mind (consciousness/the self) is separate from the brain, but it also gives credence to the proposal that conceptualization caused expansion, as opposed to expansion preceding conceptualization. I shan’t repeat the rest of the argument, except to say that my reference to the Neanderthals and to cave paintings was in response to your claim that brain growth “was not actively used until recently”. You have said that “recently” means 12,000 years (though the figure seems to vary with each post), but it is abundantly clear that the large brain was used long before that.

dhw: However, none of this explains the origin of consciousness, and so the conflict between dualism and materialism remains unresolved.
DAVID: Bigger brains, more useful consciousness, with each increase in frontal size, which was the major thrust of enlargement.

Back we go to the meaning of “use”. If you mean bigger brains gave rise to more complex concepts, then you are a materialist, but earlier you rejected this and said bigger brains “allowed” more complex concepts. This too was ambiguous, and I tried in vain to pin you down, so I’ll try once more. Your belief that consciousness and the self are inseparable and live on after death can only mean that conceptualization does not depend on the brain or its size. Yes or no? Consciousness/you therefore use the brain to translate concept into action. Yes or no?

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Tuesday, June 13, 2017, 18:24 (160 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: No separation: My consciousness (me) returned to my now functional brain after an NDE and my brain using my consciousness told me what happened during the NDE, which the brain was unaware of until the reconnection. This is where you get confused about how I look at this:
dhw: "Your brain did not inform you/your consciousness of what you/your consciousness had experienced!"

dhw: You keep agreeing that you and your consciousness are inseparable, and then you separate them again, with your brain “using” your consciousness (which is you) to tell you/your consciousness what you/your consciousness already know! It is you/your consciousness that know what happened, and it is you/your consciousness that inform the brain (so that it can organize passing on the information to other people's brains). The brain is unaware of what happened until it is informed by you/your consciousness.

Still confused. I am inseparable from my consciousness, unless my brain is useless. In an NDE my consciousness survives and experiences whatever. Then my brain recovers, reconnects with my consciousness and the NDE new information is now transmitted to me as new knowledge. My dualism assumes that the brain interprets the consciousness mechanism when it returns. I use my brain as my organ of consciousness interpretation and thought.


dhw: Yes, of course “use” (by which I mean the translation of concepts into material reality) follows size, but you are omitting concept and hence reducing three stages to two: concept, size, “use”. The big question is whether conceptualization precedes and therefore causes size, or size precedes and therefore causes conceptualization (but see below). The fact that conceptualization causes rewiring, and not the other way round, gives credence to your own belief that the mind (consciousness/the self) is separate from the brain, but it also gives credence to the proposal that conceptualization caused expansion, as opposed to expansion preceding conceptualization.

Size first, conceptual use second. You keep ignoring my comments about the required brain use as a hunter gatherer. There is some small group societal integration concepts, but most of the brain use in Habilis and Erectus is about survival and involves the athletic control part of the brain, not the frontal and prefrontal cortex, present 200,000 to 350,000 years ago. When we begin to see glimmers of civilization is with language about 50,000 years ago, and after that cave art, simple jewelry, funerals, etc. Full use of the frontal area since then causes shrinkage from complex densification. Size first, use second.

DAVID: Bigger brains, more useful consciousness, with each increase in frontal size, which was the major thrust of enlargement.

dhw: Back we go to the meaning of “use”. If you mean bigger brains gave rise to more complex concepts, then you are a materialist, but earlier you rejected this and said bigger brains “allowed” more complex concepts. This too was ambiguous, and I tried in vain to pin you down, so I’ll try once more. Your belief that consciousness and the self are inseparable and live on after death can only mean that conceptualization does not depend on the brain or its size. Yes or no? Consciousness/you therefore use the brain to translate concept into action. Yes or no?

I'll repeat. I cannot have concepts without a functional brain interpreting the mechanism of consciousness which it receives. Dualism, two parts. I use my brain willfully entering my consciousness through the brain/consciousness mechanism. It is a two-way functional arrangement seamless as I experience it. 'Bigger brains' do not automatically give rise to more complex concepts. They allow me (all humans) to create them by my free will using the brain/consciousness relationship. The brain automatically densifies as I do it. Size first, use (concepts) second; obvious.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Wednesday, June 14, 2017, 19:59 (159 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Still confused. I am inseparable from my consciousness, unless my brain is useless.

I don’t know what this means. According to your belief in an afterlife, you are inseparable from your consciousness at all times, with or without a brain.

DAVID: In an NDE my consciousness survives and experiences whatever. Then my brain recovers, reconnects with my consciousness and the NDE new information is now transmitted to me as new knowledge.

But you and your consciousness are inseparable! It is you/your consciousness that had the experience, so how can the experience be “transmitted” to you/your consciousness as new knowledge? The knowledge is new to the brain, which wasn’t there!

DAVID: My dualism assumes that the brain interprets the consciousness mechanism when it returns. I use my brain as my organ of consciousness interpretation and thought.

What do you mean by your “organ of consciousness”? You keep using these nebulous terms. If you/yourconsciousness survive the death of the brain, your dualism means that it is you/your consciousness who do the interpreting and the thinking (and conceptualizing), and the brain is the organ through which you/your consciousness communicate your interpretations and thoughts to others, and translate them into reality.

DAVID: Size first, conceptual use second.

What do you mean by “conceptual use”? Another of your nebulous terms. You say later: 'Bigger brains' do not automatically give rise to more complex concepts. They allow me (all humans) to create them by my free will using the brain/consciousness relationship.” Your free will is also inseparable from you/your consciousness! So what creates the concepts (complex or not), you or your brain? I put two very straightforward points to you last time: "Your belief that consciousness and the self are inseparable and live on after death can only mean that conceptualization does not depend on the brain or its size. Yes or no? Consciousness/you therefore use the brain to translate concept into action. Yes or no?" Why do you refuse to give me a straightforward yes/no answer?

DAVID: You keep ignoring my comments about the required brain use as a hunter gatherer etc. […] Size first, use second.

There is no need to repeat the history. Hunter-gatherers go back hundreds of thousands of years, as does the use of tools and weapons, and they entail conceptualization. Do you think concepts relating to survival are not concepts? What we do not know is why the cortex expanded in the first place. According to you, God dabbled, and only then did hominins and homos have their conceptualizations. According to my alternative hypothesis, their conceptualizations led to expansions up to 200,000 years ago. After that, the size was adequate to cope with any new concepts, but then around 12,000 years ago, as new concepts mushroomed, “use” as realization of concepts exceeded capacity, and densification (which we know is preceded by conceptualization) replaced expansion.

To summarize: If concepts are the product of you/your consciousness and precede realization of concepts (which surely even you will accept), then prior to 200,000 years ago it's concept first, size second, realization (= use of concepts) third. After 200,000 years ago, size is already there, so yes, it's chronologically size first, concepts AND realization second and third, because the brain did not need to change to densification until 188,000 years later!

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Thursday, June 15, 2017, 02:00 (159 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Still confused. I am inseparable from my consciousness, unless my brain is useless.
DAVID: In an NDE my consciousness survives and experiences whatever. Then my brain recovers, reconnects with my consciousness and the NDE new information is now transmitted to me as new knowledge.

dhw: But you and your consciousness are inseparable! It is you/your consciousness that had the experience, so how can the experience be “transmitted” to you/your consciousness as new knowledge? The knowledge is new to the brain, which wasn’t there!

When my brain is not there, I am not there! Remember I'm unconscious in an NDE. My consciousness if off by itself having experiences which when my brain revives and can receive my consciousness, I then learn about the episode! Not before!


DAVID: My dualism assumes that the brain interprets the consciousness mechanism when it returns. I use my brain as my organ of consciousness interpretation and thought.

dhw: So what creates the concepts (complex or not), you or your brain?

I develop concepts by using my brain.

dhw: I put two very straightforward points to you last time: "Your belief that consciousness and the self are inseparable and live on after death can only mean that conceptualization does not depend on the brain or its size. Yes or no?

The ability to create complex concepts does depend on brain size in the frontal and pre-frontal areas

dhw: Consciousness/you therefore use the brain to translate concept into action. Yes or no

Yes.


DAVID: You keep ignoring my comments about the required brain use as a hunter gatherer etc. […] Size first, use second.

dhw:There is no need to repeat the history. Hunter-gatherers go back hundreds of thousands of years, as does the use of tools and weapons, and they entail conceptualization. Do you think concepts relating to survival are not concepts? What we do not know is why the cortex expanded in the first place. According to you, God dabbled, and only then did hominins and homos have their conceptualizations. According to my alternative hypothesis, their conceptualizations led to expansions up to 200,000 years ago. After that, the size was adequate to cope with any new concepts, but then around 12,000 years ago, as new concepts mushroomed, “use” as realization of concepts exceeded capacity, and densification (which we know is preceded by conceptualization) replaced expansion.

What you miss is 90% of the mushrooming (your term) is 12,000 years old, which gives no reason for the larger size back 200,000 years ago. Instead with heavy use the brain shrunk as it densified.


dhw: To summarize: If concepts are the product of you/your consciousness and precede realization of concepts (which surely even you will accept), then prior to 200,000 years ago it's concept first, size second, realization (= use of concepts) third.

Each successive hominin had jumps in size like the one you describe below. Size first concepts second with each jump.

dhw: After 200,000 years ago, size is already there, so yes, it's chronologically size first, concepts AND realization second and third, because the brain did not need to change to densification until 188,000 years later!

True for each jump since Lucy.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Thursday, June 15, 2017, 13:08 (159 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: But you and your consciousness are inseparable! It is you/your consciousness that had the experience, so how can the experience be “transmitted” to you/your consciousness as new knowledge? The knowledge is new to the brain, which wasn’t there!
DAVID: When my brain is not there, I am not there! Remember I'm unconscious in an NDE. My consciousness if off by itself having experiences which when my brain revives and can receive my consciousness, I then learn about the episode! Not before!

No, you are not there, but YOU are not unconscious! According to your beliefs, YOU and your inseparable consciousness are having the temporary experience of an afterlife in which YOU and your inseparable consciousness will live on without a brain. During your experience and during your afterlife, your brain and body lie uselessly on the operating table or in the ground. They are not you. And so in an NDE, it is you and your consciousness who return to the revived brain and tell it what happened, so that it can instruct the relevant parts of your body to inform other people about it.

DAVID: My dualism assumes that the brain interprets the consciousness mechanism when it returns. I use my brain as my organ of consciousness interpretation and thought.
dhw: So what creates the concepts (complex or not), you or your brain?
DAVID: I develop concepts by using my brain.

“Develop” is another of your ambiguities. First comes the creation of the concept, then comes the realization of the concept. You use the brain to realize it.

dhw: I put two very straightforward points to you last time: "Your belief that consciousness and the self are inseparable and live on after death can only mean that conceptualization does not depend on the brain or its size. Yes or no?
DAVID: The ability to create complex concepts does depend on brain size in the frontal and pre-frontal areas.

No need for “complex” here. Either the brain creates all concepts or it doesn’t. If concepts depend on the brain, do you believe that in your afterlife you will be incapable of conceptualization? Yes or no.

dhw: Consciousness/you therefore use the brain to translate concept into action. Yes or no
DAVID: Yes.

Thank you. We are halfway towards agreement.

DAVID: What you miss is 90% of the mushrooming (your term) is 12,000 years old, which gives no reason for the larger size back 200,000 years ago. Instead with heavy use the brain shrunk as it densified.

That is the whole point. The larger size was reached in stages as the brain responded to new concepts. 200,000 years ago it reached its maximum, which was able to cope until the explosion of concepts 12,000 years ago. Then came densification, which was the RESULT of conceptualization, not the cause.

dhw: To summarize: If concepts are the product of you/your consciousness and precede realization of concepts (which surely even you will accept), then prior to 200,000 years ago it's concept first, size second, realization (= use of concepts) third.
DAVID: Each successive hominin had jumps in size like the one you describe below. Size first concepts second with each jump.

You continue to ignore the fact that the process involves three stages: concept, interaction of consciousness with brain, realization of concept. As above, if conceptualization depends on the brain, you cannot have an afterlife in which your conscious self can conceptualize.

dhw: After 200,000 years ago, size is already there, so yes, it's chronologically size first, concepts AND realization second and third, because the brain did not need to change to densification until 188,000 years later!
DAVID: True for each jump since Lucy.

Precisely: each jump was caused by new concepts, and once the jump had been made, the size was adequate for subsequent realization of concepts until more complex concepts (now complexity is relevant) demanded new actions. Example: hominin X comes up with the concept of a spear, but this requires new manufacturing skills, new use of muscles, new calculations (e.g. weight and balance)…and in order to make concept into material reality the brain responds by expanding, whereas 12,000 years ago it had to respond by densifying.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Thursday, June 15, 2017, 20:15 (158 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: But you and your consciousness are inseparable! It is you/your consciousness that had the experience, so how can the experience be “transmitted” to you/your consciousness as new knowledge? The knowledge is new to the brain, which wasn’t there!
DAVID: When my brain is not there, I am not there! Remember I'm unconscious in an NDE. My consciousness if off by itself having experiences which when my brain revives and can receive my consciousness, I then learn about the episode! Not before!

dhw: No, you are not there, but YOU are not unconscious! According to your beliefs, YOU and your inseparable consciousness are having the temporary experience of an afterlife in which YOU and your inseparable consciousness will live on without a brain. And so in an NDE, it is you and your consciousness who return to the revived brain and tell it what happened, so that it can instruct the relevant parts of your body to inform other people about it.

Yes, But until my brain and consciousness reconnect, I have no knowledge of the episode.

DAVID: I develop concepts by using my brain.

dhw: “Develop” is another of your ambiguities. First comes the creation of the concept, then comes the realization of the concept. You use the brain to realize it.

Calculus had to be invented by two thinking humans. That is development.

DAVID: The ability to create complex concepts does depend on brain size in the frontal and pre-frontal areas.

dhw: No need for “complex” here. Either the brain creates all concepts or it doesn’t. If concepts depend on the brain, do you believe that in your afterlife you will be incapable of conceptualization? Yes or no.

I use my brain to create concepts. Probably my self/consciousness is static, unchanging in afterlife, but following the NDE findings, has experiences.


dhw: Consciousness/you therefore use the brain to translate concept into action. Yes or no
DAVID: Yes.

Thank you. We are halfway towards agreement.

DAVID: What you miss is 90% of the mushrooming (your term) is 12,000 years old, which gives no reason for the larger size back 200,000 years ago. Instead with heavy use the brain shrunk as it densified.

dhw: That is the whole point. The larger size was reached in stages as the brain responded to new concepts. 200,000 years ago it reached its maximum, which was able to cope until the explosion of concepts 12,000 years ago. Then came densification, which was the RESULT of conceptualization, not the cause.

The stages were a series of 200cc jumps, way more than the need for the simple concepts that developed until 12,000 years ago.


dhw: After 200,000 years ago, size is already there, so yes, it's chronologically size first, concepts AND realization second and third, because the brain did not need to change to densification until 188,000 years later!
DAVID: True for each jump since Lucy.

dhw: Precisely: each jump was caused by new concepts, and once the jump had been made, the size was adequate for subsequent realization of concepts until more complex concepts (now complexity is relevant) demanded new actions. Example: hominin X comes up with the concept of a spear, but this requires new manufacturing skills, new use of muscles, new calculations (e.g. weight and balance)…and in order to make concept into material reality the brain responds by expanding, whereas 12,000 years ago it had to respond by densifying.

I agree in order to develop new athletic ability and new manufacturing skills a more useful larger brain was needed. Therefore a new species with 200cc more was provided and that extra size allowed for the development of these newly required mental and physical skills. I'm still with God doing the speciation.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Friday, June 16, 2017, 12:55 (158 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: According to your beliefs, YOU and your inseparable consciousness are having the temporary experience of an afterlife in which YOU and your inseparable consciousness will live on without a brain. And so in an NDE, it is you and your consciousness who return to the revived brain and tell it what happened, so that it can instruct the relevant parts of your body to inform other people about it.
DAVID: Yes, But until my brain and consciousness reconnect, I have no knowledge of the episode.

Of course you do! It was you and your inseparable consciousness that consciously lived through and remember the episode. That is the whole basis of your belief in an afterlife in which the brainless you is still you! But until the reconnection with the brain, you and your inseparable consciousness have no way of communicating your knowledge of the episode to other people.

DAVID: I develop concepts by using my brain.
dhw: “Develop” is another of your ambiguities. First comes the creation of the concept, then comes the realization of the concept. You use the brain to realize it.
DAVID: Calculus had to be invented by two thinking humans. That is development.

And if you/your consciousness are a separate entity from your brain, as you believe, and you/your consciousness do the thinking, the activity of the brain can only be in response to the thinking, because according to you the brain is the RECEIVER of consciousness.

dhw: Either the brain creates all concepts or it doesn’t. If concepts depend on the brain, do you believe that in your afterlife you will be incapable of conceptualization? Yes or no.
DAVID: I use my brain to create concepts. Probably my self/consciousness is static, unchanging in afterlife, but following the NDE findings, has experiences.

Conceptualizing means forming ideas. Some NDE patients return with a totally different attitude towards life, and if experiences change attitudes, then clearly they are the trigger for new ideas. Do you think you will have experiences in your afterlife without responding to them? How can you still be you and yet be a zombie? (But once again, I need to stress that I am not taking sides in the materialism versus dualism debate. I am only following through the logic of your own dualistic beliefs.)

dhw: […] each jump was caused by new concepts, and once the jump had been made, the size was adequate for subsequent realization of concepts until more complex concepts (now complexity is relevant) demanded new actions. Example: hominin X comes up with the concept of a spear, but this requires new manufacturing skills, new use of muscles, new calculations (e.g. weight and balance)…and in order to make concept into material reality the brain responds by expanding, whereas 12,000 years ago it had to respond by densifying.
DAVID: I agree in order to develop new athletic ability and new manufacturing skills a more useful larger brain was needed. Therefore a new species with 200cc more was provided and that extra size allowed for the development of these newly required mental and physical skills. I'm still with God doing the speciation.

In other words, the larger brain was needed in order to realize the concepts, just as rewiring is needed for more modern concepts. But rewiring is the result of the need, whereas you claim that enlargement is preparation for the need. It’s precisely the same argument as your claim that pre-whales and pre-humans underwent divine surgery before entering the water or descending from the trees, instead of responding to the demands or opportunities resulting from changes in the environment.

God has his role in both scenarios. In my proposal, he would have invented the mechanism through which organisms are able to change themselves by adaptation and/or invention according to need or opportunity. Legs to flippers/bent to upright AFTER entering the water/descending from the trees, until they reach their final form; larger brains AFTER new concepts until they reach their final size. Then densification when size is no longer adequate.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Friday, June 16, 2017, 21:01 (157 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Yes, But until my brain and consciousness reconnect, I have no knowledge of the episode.


dhw: Of course you do! It was you and your inseparable consciousness that consciously lived through and remember the episode. That is the whole basis of your belief in an afterlife in which the brainless you is still you! But until the reconnection with the brain, you and your inseparable consciousness have no way of communicating your knowledge of the episode to other people.

Yes to your version. Or become aware of it to my wakened self.


dhw: And if you/your consciousness are a separate entity from your brain, as you believe, and you/your consciousness do the thinking, the activity of the brain can only be in response to the thinking, because according to you the brain is the RECEIVER of consciousness.

Yes to your version.


dhw: Either the brain creates all concepts or it doesn’t. If concepts depend on the brain, do you believe that in your afterlife you will be incapable of conceptualization? Yes or no.
DAVID: I use my brain to create concepts. Probably my self/consciousness is static, unchanging in afterlife, but following the NDE findings, has experiences.

dhw: Conceptualizing means forming ideas. Some NDE patients return with a totally different attitude towards life, and if experiences change attitudes, then clearly they are the trigger for new ideas.

But only after the NDE is over and subject to wakeful analysis.

dhw: Do you think you will have experiences in your afterlife without responding to them? How can you still be you and yet be a zombie?

Once settled into afterlife I don't think there are any new experiences, just some telepathic communication with others, without advancing concepts.


dhw: In other words, the larger brain was needed in order to realize the concepts, just as rewiring is needed for more modern concepts. But rewiring is the result of the need, whereas you claim that enlargement is preparation for the need. It’s precisely the same argument as your claim that pre-whales and pre-humans underwent divine surgery before entering the water or descending from the trees, instead of responding to the demands or opportunities resulting from changes in the environment.

Right. All an external drive from God.


dhw: God has his role in both scenarios. In my proposal, he would have invented the mechanism through which organisms are able to change themselves by adaptation and/or invention according to need or opportunity. Legs to flippers/bent to upright AFTER entering the water/descending from the trees, until they reach their final form; larger brains AFTER new concepts until they reach their final size. Then densification when size is no longer adequate.

So we are back to chance or design, only in your version God provides a magical inventive system that does all the amazing modifications by itself. Bigger brains BEFORE concepts from IM foresight. So design still must come from God by proxy.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Saturday, June 17, 2017, 12:37 (157 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Yes, But until my brain and consciousness reconnect, I have no knowledge of the episode.
dhw: Of course you do! It was you and your inseparable consciousness that consciously lived through and remember the episode. That is the whole basis of your belief in an afterlife in which the brainless you is still you! But until the reconnection with the brain, you and your inseparable consciousness have no way of communicating your knowledge of the episode to other people.
DAVID: Yes to your version. Or become aware of it to my wakened self.

No, your self was always awake, because otherwise it couldn’t have had the experience or instructed your wakened brain to communicate the episode to others.

dhw: And if you/your consciousness are a separate entity from your brain, as you believe, and you/your consciousness do the thinking, the activity of the brain can only be in response to the thinking, because according to you the brain is the RECEIVER of consciousness.
DAVID: Yes to your version.

Thank you. This must always be borne in mind during our discussion of conceptualization.

dhw: Either the brain creates all concepts or it doesn’t. If concepts depend on the brain, do you believe that in your afterlife you will be incapable of conceptualization? Yes or no.
DAVID: I use my brain to create concepts. Probably my self/consciousness is static, unchanging in afterlife, but following the NDE findings, has experiences.
dhw: Conceptualizing means forming ideas. Some NDE patients return with a totally different attitude towards life, and if experiences change attitudes, then clearly they are the trigger for new ideas.
DAVID: But only after the NDE is over and subject to wakeful analysis.

The wakeful analysis is done by your conscious self, which never slept. Once again: according to you, the awakened brain is only the receiver of the analysis.

dhw: Do you think you will have experiences in your afterlife without responding to them? How can you still be you and yet be a zombie?
DAVID: Once settled into afterlife I don't think there are any new experiences, just some telepathic communication with others, without advancing concepts.

I shudder to think of the unutterable boredom of an afterlife in which nothing new ever happens, but that is not the issue here. During the NDE, the patient did have new experiences which led to new concepts, and the brain played no role whatsoever in forming these because it was dead and knew nothing about them until it was resuscitated and informed by your conscious self.

dhw: In other words, the larger brain was needed in order to realize the concepts, just as rewiring is needed for more modern concepts. But rewiring is the result of the need, whereas you claim that enlargement is preparation for the need. It’s precisely the same argument as your claim that pre-whales and pre-humans underwent divine surgery before entering the water or descending from the trees, instead of responding to the demands or opportunities resulting from changes in the environment.
DAVID: Right. All an external drive from God.

The external drive would be your dabbling. What happened to preprogramming, which is an internal “drive” implanted by your God? Unless you think he personally reaches down and presses each individual switch in each individual organism for each individual change. An internal inventive intelligence (possibly designed by your God) is my equivalent of the internal preprogramming drive, but it is autonomous and not automated. It responds adaptively or creatively to current conditions, but does not look into a crystal ball.

dhw: God has his role in both scenarios. In my proposal, he would have invented the mechanism through which organisms are able to change themselves by adaptation and/or invention according to need or opportunity. Legs to flippers/bent to upright AFTER entering the water/descending from the trees, until they reach their final form; larger brains AFTER new concepts until they reach their final size. Then densification when size is no longer adequate.
DAVID: So we are back to chance or design, only in your version God provides a magical inventive system that does all the amazing modifications by itself. Bigger brains BEFORE concepts from IM foresight. So design still must come from God by proxy.

Chance versus design is not the issue, and the inventive system is not magical – it entails deliberate and calculated action, as organisms work out their own methods of coping with or exploiting the environment. And there is no foresight involved: organismal changes take place in response to the needs or opportunities that arise, e.g. bigger brains RESULTING from new concepts. But yes, the hypothesis allows for God being the designer of the whole system whereby cellular communities (including the brain) are able to restructure themselves in order to realize those new concepts.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Saturday, June 17, 2017, 19:40 (156 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Yes to your version. Or become aware of it to my wakened self.

dhw: No, your self was always awake, because otherwise it couldn’t have had the experience or instructed your wakened brain to communicate the episode to others.

Yes, agreed.

DAVID: But only after the NDE is over and subject to wakeful analysis.

The wakeful analysis is done by your conscious self, which never slept. Once again: according to you, the awakened brain is only the receiver of the analysis.

OK.

DAVID: So we are back to chance or design, only in your version God provides a magical inventive system that does all the amazing modifications by itself. Bigger brains BEFORE concepts from IM foresight. So design still must come from God by proxy.

dhw: Chance versus design is not the issue, and the inventive system is not magical – it entails deliberate and calculated action, as organisms work out their own methods of coping with or exploiting the environment. And there is no foresight involved: organismal changes take place in response to the needs or opportunities that arise, e.g. bigger brains RESULTING from new concepts. But yes, the hypothesis allows for God being the designer of the whole system whereby cellular communities (including the brain) are able to restructure themselves in order to realize those new concepts.

You have again skipped over the part of advanced planning for the large (Gould noted) gaps in the fossil record. God must have given a full planning outline to your style of an IM.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Sunday, June 18, 2017, 13:08 (156 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: So we are back to chance or design, only in your version God provides a magical inventive system that does all the amazing modifications by itself. Bigger brains BEFORE concepts from IM foresight. So design still must come from God by proxy.
dhw: Chance versus design is not the issue, and the inventive system is not magical – it entails deliberate and calculated action, as organisms work out their own methods of coping with or exploiting the environment. And there is no foresight involved: organismal changes take place in response to the needs or opportunities that arise, e.g. bigger brains RESULTING from new concepts. But yes, the hypothesis allows for God being the designer of the whole system whereby cellular communities (including the brain) are able to restructure themselves in order to realize those new concepts.

DAVID: You have again skipped over the part of advanced planning for the large (Gould noted) gaps in the fossil record. God must have given a full planning outline to your style of an IM.

In my hypothesis, as I keep repeating, there is no advance planning. Innovation takes place as a RESPONSE to opportunities offered by the environment. The gaps in the fossil record are because of saltations. I don’t know what you mean by a “full planning outline”. You can’t even make up your mind to what extent your God controls environmental change, so there is a huge question mark over your own theory that he had everything fully planned in advance.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Sunday, June 18, 2017, 22:37 (155 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: You have again skipped over the part of advanced planning for the large (Gould noted) gaps in the fossil record. God must have given a full planning outline to your style of an IM.

dhw: In my hypothesis, as I keep repeating, there is no advance planning. Innovation takes place as a RESPONSE to opportunities offered by the environment. The gaps in the fossil record are because of saltations. I don’t know what you mean by a “full planning outline”. You can’t even make up your mind to what extent your God controls environmental change, so there is a huge question mark over your own theory that he had everything fully planned in advance.

Again you are skipping the import of the giant gaps. The whale changes are so large they require advanced planning to coordinate all the new physiologic changes. You are again using the word 'saltations' as something magical. A saltation is a giant change requiring coordination of new parts and processes. It requires design by a planning mind. As for environmental changes I've said that God guides evolution. I'm sure the cyanobacteria which have no precursor are one of God's steps. Note my entry. Chicxulub is probably His giant snowball. I keep saying He is in charge. You invent deficiencies in my thinking, because I cannot be sure as to every detail of God's actions.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Monday, June 19, 2017, 13:22 (155 days ago) @ David Turell

I am transferring this from the cave thread to the big brain thread, as it is more appropriate.

dhw: Have palaeontologists proved that a 200 cc (average) increase occurred BEFORE improved artefacts appeared, as opposed to the appearance of improved artefacts coinciding with a 200 cc (average) increase?
DAVID: What paleontologists find is that with each change in frontal brain size the early homos do more complex things like stone tools, conquering fire, wearing hides, etc. Each step in size works this way.

But what they cannot tell us is whether the expansion took place BEFORE the new concepts or as a RESULT of new concepts requiring expansion before they could be realized (just as the brain rewires itself as a RESULT of new concepts).

dhw:I don’t understand your reference to shrinkage and smaller steps. I thought shrinkage only started to occur 12,000 years ago, when the maximum size had long since been reached, and so densification took over from enlargement.
DAVID: Increasingly intense use over the past 50,000 years resulted in densification and shrinkage when the usage of the plastic brain became intense enough. Early usage was obviously not that intense, and nothing happened except which each new +200cc fossil the obviously had more mental ability, which it then had to learn at that new stage.

“Usage” of the brain could refer to immaterial concepts or to material realization of concepts, so we need to distinguish between them. We could say our earlier ancestors had room for brain expansion, which took place as a RESULT of new concepts and enabled these concepts to be realized, but when there was no more room for expansion, new concepts RESULTED in densification, whose efficiency was such that the maximum size was no longer required - hence shrinkage. Logical?

dhw: We should also be quite clear about your own theory. Are you saying that at regular intervals, your God dabbled with the brain, increasing its volume by 200 cc (average), and only after each increase were humans able to come up with new concepts?
DAVID: Yes
dhw: If so, how does this fit in with your belief that concepts are the product of the conscious self, which is independent of and survives the death of the receiver brain?
DAVID: Because I view the brain as a material computer receiver of the software consciousness, and I am the operator of that setup…….

This does not alter the fact that you believe "you" and your inseparable consciousness ARE the operator and form an inseparable entity that conceptualizes independently of the brain.

DAVID:…just as you sit at your computer and compose thoughts to me. I know the software (consciousness) can separate from me in NDE's, and therefore at fully realized death. It all fits what we know.

You keep agreeing that consciousness is NOT separable from “me”, and now you want to separate it again (until NDEs and death)! If you/your consciousness are a separate entity from the brain and live on after the death of the brain, then you/your consciousness must be capable of conceptualizing without the brain, which at all times according to you is only a RECEIVER. This contradicts the claim that humans were unable to come up with new concepts until the brain expanded.

dhw: I’d better repeat that I am basing these arguments on YOUR beliefs. I remain undecided between dualism and materialism.
DAVID: I understand.
Thank you. I may eventually return to my attempts to find a compromise between the two.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Monday, June 19, 2017, 21:21 (154 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: What paleontologists find is that with each change in frontal brain size the early homos do more complex things like stone tools, conquering fire, wearing hides, etc. Each step in size works this way.

dhw: But what they cannot tell us is whether the expansion took place BEFORE the new concepts or as a RESULT of new concepts requiring expansion before they could be realized (just as the brain rewires itself as a RESULT of new concepts).

They can tell us indirectly. At each larger stage they study all the artifacts the new brain sized fossil produced as they survived. The newly invented stuff is always with the larger size, never before. Logically the bigger size produces the advances.


dhw:I don’t understand your reference to shrinkage and smaller steps. I thought shrinkage only started to occur 12,000 years ago, when the maximum size had long since been reached, and so densification took over from enlargement.

DAVID: Increasingly intense use over the past 50,000 years resulted in densification and shrinkage when the usage of the plastic brain became intense enough. Early usage was obviously not that intense, and nothing happened except which each new +200cc fossil the obviously had more mental ability, which it then had to learn at that new stage.

dhw: “Usage” of the brain could refer to immaterial concepts or to material realization of concepts, so we need to distinguish between them. We could say our earlier ancestors had room for brain expansion, which took place as a RESULT of new concepts and enabled these concepts to be realized, but when there was no more room for expansion, new concepts RESULTED in densification, whose efficiency was such that the maximum size was no longer required - hence shrinkage. Logical?

There are so few fossils, the only time we can see shrinkage is in the recent past and so he only example we have is H. sapiens. As I've stated above it is obvious size first use to produce new inventions second.

DAVID: Because I view the brain as a material computer receiver of the software consciousness, and I am the operator of that setup…….

dhw: This does not alter the fact that you believe "you" and your inseparable consciousness ARE the operator and form an inseparable entity that conceptualizes independently of the brain.

You keep missing the point. I have to use my brain directly as a physical part of me to operate with my consciousness which I view as software I receive and can reprogram to fit my personality, etc. I program my consciousness/software using my brain. It all must work together seamlessly.

dhw: You keep agreeing that consciousness is NOT separable from “me”, and now you want to separate it again (until NDEs and death)! If you/your consciousness are a separate entity from the brain and live on after the death of the brain, then you/your consciousness must be capable of conceptualizing without the brain, which at all times according to you is only a RECEIVER. This contradicts the claim that humans were unable to come up with new concepts until the brain expanded.

Explained above. The brain has plasticity to mold itself to my needs as I use my consciousness which it receives. I can only mold the contents of my consciousness through the operation of my brain as I think. No contradiction about size vs. use.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Tuesday, June 20, 2017, 13:19 (154 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: What paleontologists find is that with each change in frontal brain size the early homos do more complex things like stone tools, conquering fire, wearing hides, etc. Each step in size works this way.
dhw: But what they cannot tell us is whether the expansion took place BEFORE the new concepts or as a RESULT of new concepts requiring expansion before they could be realized (just as the brain rewires itself as a RESULT of new concepts).
DAVID: They can tell us indirectly. At each larger stage they study all the artifacts the new brain sized fossil produced as they survived. The newly invented stuff is always with the larger size, never before. Logically the bigger size produces the advances.

Of course it’s with the larger size. In your dualistic world, it was only by increasing the size that hominins and homos were able to REALIZE their concepts, i.e. produce the artefacts. As with rewiring (concept of reading…then rewire…then able to read) you have concept of artefact…expand brain…make artefact. This entry (under “fire and brain size”) epitomizes the dichotomy in your thinking:

QUOTE: Understanding when people mastered fire could help archaeologists figure out if and how it contributed to these major events in the evolution of the human body and mind. For example, did it really coincide with a jump in brain size, which would indicate it may have helped make us deep thinkers? (David’s bold)
David’s comment: Note that fire appears to be related to larger brains: how to control it and also, at the same time, how to feed a bigger brain. There is no getting around the fact that with larger brains hominins found better ways to support. With each size better ways. Size first use second, always.

The starting point here is the assumption that large brains make us into deep thinkers. You have even put it in bold. And it may well be true – I am not in a position to choose between dualism and materialism. But it is YOUR belief that the brain is NOT the source of our deep-thinking consciousness! This can only mean that the bigger brain is the TOOL of a separate entity of consciousness/self, and so each new size is the result of finding “better ways” which can only be implemented by changes to the brain (here, enlargement). If you believe that the mind/conscious self is a separate entity from the body and will survive the death of the body, you cannot at the same time claim that our deep thinking is impossible without our enlarged brain. In YOUR dualistic world it is the material realization/communication of our thoughts that requires the enlarged brain, not the enlarged brain that enables us to have our thoughts.

dhw: This does not alter the fact that you believe "you" and your inseparable consciousness ARE the operator and form an inseparable entity that conceptualizes independently of the brain.
DAVID: You keep missing the point. I have to use my brain directly as a physical part of me to operate with my consciousness which I view as software I receive and can reprogram to fit my personality, etc. I program my consciousness/software using my brain. It all must work together seamlessly.

I don’t know why you have decided to muddy the waters with all this talk of software and programming. You have agreed that you and your consciousness are an inseparable entity. Yes, you/your consciousness operate the brain. No, “you” do not “receive” your consciousness – according to you, it is the brain that receives the messages from you/your consciousness.

DAVID: The brain has plasticity to mold itself to my needs as I use my consciousness which it receives. I can only mold the contents of my consciousness through the operation of my brain as I think. No contradiction about size vs. use.

Yes, the brain has plasticity to mold itself to your needs, but if you/your consciousness are a separate entity which survives the death of the brain, you do not need the brain in order to develop your thoughts (mold the content of your consciousness). You only need it in order to communicate or realize your concepts in the material world of this life.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Tuesday, June 20, 2017, 16:59 (153 days ago) @ dhw

David’s comment: Note that fire appears to be related to larger brains: how to control it and also, at the same time, how to feed a bigger brain. There is no getting around the fact that with larger brains hominins found better ways to support. With each size better ways. Size first use second, always.

dhw: The starting point here is the assumption that large brains make us into deep thinkers. You have even put it in bold. And it may well be true – I am not in a position to choose between dualism and materialism. But it is YOUR belief that the brain is NOT the source of our deep-thinking consciousness! This can only mean that the bigger brain is the TOOL of a separate entity of consciousness/self, and so each new size is the result of finding “better ways” which can only be implemented by changes to the brain (here, enlargement). If you believe that the mind/conscious self is a separate entity from the body and will survive the death of the body, you cannot at the same time claim that our deep thinking is impossible without our enlarged brain. In YOUR dualistic world it is the material realization/communication of our thoughts that requires the enlarged brain, not the enlarged brain that enables us to have our thoughts.

In my view only a very complex brain can use the mechanism of consciousness to the extent we now use it. The pattern of frontal love development allowed all of the complex conceptual thinking we do now. We start with a consciousness after birth with an empty slate and form its content and its use. It has to be learned.


dhw: This does not alter the fact that you believe "you" and your inseparable consciousness ARE the operator and form an inseparable entity that conceptualizes independently of the brain.
DAVID: You keep missing the point. I have to use my brain directly as a physical part of me to operate with my consciousness which I view as software I receive and can reprogram to fit my personality, etc. I program my consciousness/software using my brain. It all must work together seamlessly.

dhw: I don’t know why you have decided to muddy the waters with all this talk of software and programming. You have agreed that you and your consciousness are an inseparable entity. Yes, you/your consciousness operate the brain. No, “you” do not “receive” your consciousness – according to you, it is the brain that receives the messages from you/your consciousness.

No, I operate my consciousness through my brain. The computer analogy fits.


DAVID: The brain has plasticity to mold itself to my needs as I use my consciousness which it receives. I can only mold the contents of my consciousness through the operation of my brain as I think. No contradiction about size vs. use.

dhw: Yes, the brain has plasticity to mold itself to your needs, but if you/your consciousness are a separate entity which survives the death of the brain, you do not need the brain in order to develop your thoughts (mold the content of your consciousness). You only need it in order to communicate or realize your concepts in the material world of this life.

Yes!

Evolution and humans: big brain size

by David Turell @, Wednesday, June 21, 2017, 01:39 (153 days ago) @ David Turell

A theory about socialization:

http://www.realclearscience.com/articles/2017/06/19/humans_evolved_big_brains_to_keep_t...

"To truly understand how the brain maintains our human intellect, we would need to know about the state of all 86 billion neurons and their 100 trillion interconnections, as well as the varying strengths with which they are connected, and the state of more than 1,000 proteins that exist at each connection point. Neurobiologist Steven Rose suggests that even this is not enough – we would still need know how these connections have evolved over a person’s lifetime and even the social context in which they had occurred. It may take centuries just to figure out basic neuronal connectivity.

***

"Of course, we can see many advantages in having a large brain. In my recent book on human evolution I suggest it firstly allows humans to exist in a group size of about 150. This builds resilience to environmental changes by increasing and diversifying food production and sharing.

"A social brain also allows specialisation of skills so individuals can concentrate on supporting childbirth, tool-making, fire setting, hunting or resource allocation. Humans have no natural weapons, but working in large groups and having tools allowed us to become the apex predator, hunting animals as large as mammoths to extinction.

"Our social groups are large and complex, but this creates high stress levels for individuals because the rewards in terms of food, safety and reproduction are so great. Hence, Oxford anthropologist Robin Dunbar argues our huge brain is primarily developed to keep track of rapidly changing relationships. It takes a huge amount of cognitive ability to exist in large social groups, and if you fall out of the group you lose access to food and mates and are unlikely to reproduce and pass on your genes.

"As our ancestors got smarter, they became capable of living in larger and larger groups. Mark Maslin, Author provided (See the diagram)

***

"It is the detailed knowledge of society and the need to track and control the ever changing relationship between people around us that has created our huge complex brain.

"It seems our brains could be even more flexible that we previously thought. Recent genetic evidence suggests the modern human brain is more malleable and is modelled more by the surrounding environment than that of chimpanzees. The anatomy of the chimpanzee brain is strongly controlled by their genes, whereas the modern human brain is extensively shaped by the environment, no matter what the genetics.

"This means the human brain is pre-programmed to be extremely flexible; its cerebral organisation is adjusted by the environment and society in which it is raised. So each new generation’s brain structure can adapt to the new environmental and social challenges without the need to physically evolve. (my bold)

"This may also explain why we all complain that we do not understand the next generation as their brains are wired differently, having grown up in a different physical and social environment. An example of this is the ease with which the latest generation interacts with technology almost if they had co-evolved with it.

"So next time you turn on a computer just remember how big and complex your brain is – to keep a track of your friends and enemies."

Comment: this article has a clear diagram of our hominin ancestors. Each had a bigger frontal lobe. Note my bold about the modern brain's flexibility. He thinks the larger brains resulted from larger social groups. Dhw would agree. And I would state the opposite. The origin of a bigger brain allowed the larger social structures, but books I've read on hunter-gatherer size is not as large as he states: 150 individuals, 200,000 years ago. The figure I've seen is 35-50. The paragraph in italics only applies to H. sapiens, with the largest brain of all.

Evolution and humans:big brain size and food supply

by David Turell @, Wednesday, June 21, 2017, 01:50 (153 days ago) @ David Turell

This article poo poos the social brain idea for enlargement:

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2125935-putting-bigger-brains-down-to-our-social-n...

"In the past two million years, humans have experienced a massive increase in brain size, one not seen in any other species. This rapid evolution gave us brains roughly triple the volume of those of our pre-human ancestors.

"But the intelligence we enjoy as a result would seem to be advantageous for all sorts of species, not just us. So why was ours the only line to go down this route?

"The social brain hypothesis was a popular answer. It claims that bigger brains and advanced cognitive abilities are primarily an adaptation to social complexities, with natural selection strongly favouring individuals that can outsmart rivals.

"Some researchers, myself included, have never been especially persuaded by this idea, which gains its principal support from decades-old evidence that primates in bigger groups have larger brains. Large brains in humans supposedly followed from our ancestors living in relatively large groups, according to this argument.

"A new study now challenges the foundational evidence for this link. The problem is that traditional analyses have been based on too few species, says a team at New York University (NYU).

"The researchers collected measures of primate brains and sociality from more than 140 primate species, about three times as many as before, and found no correlation between indicators of brain size and measures of sociality such as group size.

"Their statistics look strong. The social brain hypothesis has failed its biggest test so far.

"Proponents of the social brain hypothesis will doubtless seek ways to resuscitate it, but for the moment the question of why humans gained big brains needs another kind of answer.

"The NYU team offers one. They found that among primates, brain volume is correlated with diet, with fruit-eating primates having the biggest brains. This idea, raised decades ago but long overshadowed by the social brain hypothesis, raises two complementary possibilities.

"First is the idea that brainy individuals are better foragers. Fruits are hard to find in a tropical forest, and so bigger-brained individuals might benefit if they are smart enough to find fruit more efficiently. That is plausible – but suspiciously simple.

"The other explanation for fruit-eaters having big brains is the energy allocation hypothesis. It takes an entirely different approach, noting that brains need a lot of energy. Every primate would have a bigger brain if only they could afford them, metabolically speaking, it suggests.

"The human brain consumes more than a fifth of the energy we use when at rest. If some other organ is not to be under-supplied, we need to acquire more energy for our size than other species.

"How, then, can we afford to divert fuel to especially big brains? High-quality diets provide one mechanism. Fruits, being sugar-rich, supply more easily digested energy than most items eaten by primates, such as leaves.

"This concept appeals to those, like me, who think that a diet of cooked food has been a critical influence on human evolution ever since the emergence of Homo erectus almost two million years ago. Cooked food provides easily available energy, requires little digestion, can be eaten in a fraction of the time it takes to consume raw food, and is unique to humans.

"The evidence that fruit-eating primates are big-brained strengthens the idea that our unique cognitive ability was made possible by our uniquely high-quality diets.:

Comment: the obvious corollary is if you have a big enough brain to control fire, you can nourish that big brain so it works properly. See my entry yesterday: Tuesday, June 20, 2017, 00:36 . Once again, big brain first, use second.

Evolution and humans:big brain size and food supply

by dhw, Wednesday, June 21, 2017, 12:43 (153 days ago) @ David Turell

A theory about socialization:
http://www.realclearscience.com/articles/2017/06/19/humans_evolved_big_brains_to_keep_t...

QUOTE: This means the human brain is pre-programmed to be extremely flexible; its cerebral organisation is adjusted by the environment and society in which it is raised. So each new generation’s brain structure can adapt to the new environmental and social challenges without the need to physically evolve. (DAVID's bold)

Flexible is the same as your own term “plastic”. I don’t know to what extent individual brains are individually wired, but each individual will respond in his/her own way to environmental and social challenges. In the distant past, quite clearly the brain did have to evolve physically, in order to realize new concepts (hence enlargement). Now it densifies, which is another form of physical evolution, so I don’t quite know what is the point of this bold.

DAVID’s comment: this article has a clear diagram of our hominin ancestors. Each had a bigger frontal lobe. Note my bold about the modern brain's flexibility. He thinks the larger brains resulted from larger social groups. Dhw would agree. And I would state the opposite. The origin of a bigger brain allowed the larger social structures….

I would not agree. If I adopted your dualistic approach to the source of consciousness, I would argue that new concepts demanded the larger brain for their realization, and these new concepts contributed to the success of the group, which therefore itself grew larger and larger. Concepts first, large brains second, realization of concepts third, large groups fourth. If I adopted the materialist approach, I would be stuck with the mystery of how blobs of material can give rise to consciousness (hence my earlier attempt to reconcile the two approaches, and I may return to this), but I might well come to the same conclusion.

DAVID: This article poo poos the social brain idea for enlargement:
https://www.newscientist.com/article/2125935-putting-bigger-brains-down-to-our-social-n...

QUOTE: "The evidence that fruit-eating primates are big-brained strengthens the idea that our unique cognitive ability was made possible by our uniquely high-quality diets.:
DAVID’s comment: the obvious corollary is if you have a big enough brain to control fire, you can nourish that big brain so it works properly. See my entry yesterday: Tuesday, June 20, 2017, 00:36 . Once again, big brain first, use second.

But you say our unique cognitive ability is not caused by our large brain, which we/our consciousness use only to give material expression to the results of our deep thinking. You keep restricting the discussion to two stages of "brain and use" without defining use. If you/your consciousness do not need the brain to do your thinking (as you have agreed), once more the sequence is: 1) concept; 2) big brain; 3)realization of concept (= use of brain). See my first post on the subject. But I agree with your obvious corollary: the large brain requires proper feeding. Food is a requirement, not a cause. This may have had an accumulative knock-on effect: need for more food demands new ways of getting food demand new concepts demand further growth of brain to realize new concepts…

Evolution and humans:big brain size and food supply

by David Turell @, Thursday, June 22, 2017, 01:37 (152 days ago) @ dhw


QUOTE: This means the human brain is pre-programmed to be extremely flexible; its cerebral organisation is adjusted by the environment and society in which it is raised. So each new generation’s brain structure can adapt to the new environmental and social challenges without the need to physically evolve. (DAVID's bold)

dhw: Flexible is the same as your own term “plastic”. I don’t know to what extent individual brains are individually wired, but each individual will respond in his/her own way to environmental and social challenges. In the distant past, quite clearly the brain did have to evolve physically, in order to realize new concepts (hence enlargement). Now it densifies, which is another form of physical evolution, so I don’t quite know what is the point of this bold.

It appears the evolution of size of the brain is over. Due to plasticity.


DAVID’s comment: this article has a clear diagram of our hominin ancestors. Each had a bigger frontal lobe. Note my bold about the modern brain's flexibility. He thinks the larger brains resulted from larger social groups. Dhw would agree. And I would state the opposite. The origin of a bigger brain allowed the larger social structures….

dhw: I would not agree. If I adopted your dualistic approach to the source of consciousness, I would argue that new concepts demanded the larger brain for their realization, and these new concepts contributed to the success of the group, which therefore itself grew larger and larger. Concepts first, large brains second, realization of concepts third, large groups fourth.

Again missing the obvious point. To use simple examples: H. habilis made simple tools and lived simply. H. erectus with a larger brain made more complex tools. Your claim is that habilis had concepts that forced enlargement, but the new tools are with erectus! Size first, use second. Your thoughts are totally backwards.

DAVID’s comment: the obvious corollary is if you have a big enough brain to control fire, you can nourish that big brain so it works properly. See my entry yesterday: Tuesday, June 20, 2017, 00:36 . Once again, big brain first, use second.

dhw: But you say our unique cognitive ability is not caused by our large brain, which we/our consciousness use only to give material expression to the results of our deep thinking. You keep restricting the discussion to two stages of "brain and use" without defining use.

You've forgotten I have defined use as survival activities. Tool making, etc.

dhw: If you/your consciousness do not need the brain to do your thinking (as you have agreed), once more the sequence is: 1) concept; 2) big brain; 3)realization of concept (= use of brain).

I don't know how you can describe my use of brain this way. My brain is my gateway to my consciousness. Only the recent development of the H. sapiens brain, starting 350,000 years ago allowed the complexity that required densification. Your sequence is backwards. Our current modern brain is filled with concepts and shrinking. Why isn't it enlarging per your hypothesis?

Evolution and humans:big brain size and food supply

by dhw, Thursday, June 22, 2017, 18:43 (151 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID’s comment: He thinks the larger brains resulted from larger social groups. Dhw would agree. And I would state the opposite. The origin of a bigger brain allowed the larger social structures….
dhw: I would not agree. If I adopted your dualistic approach to the source of consciousness, I would argue that new concepts demanded the larger brain for their realization, and these new concepts contributed to the success of the group, which therefore itself grew larger and larger. Concepts first, large brains second, realization of concepts third, large groups fourth.
DAVID: Again missing the obvious point. To use simple examples: H. habilis made simple tools and lived simply. H. erectus with a larger brain made more complex tools. Your claim is that habilis had concepts that forced enlargement, but the new tools are with erectus! Size first, use second. Your thoughts are totally backwards.

Again missing the obvious point that before habilis MADE his simple tools, he had to have the desire to make them. This is made perfectly clear by the next exchange:
DAVID’s comment: Once again, big brain first, use second.
dhw: But you say our unique cognitive ability is not caused by our large brain, which we/our consciousness use only to give material expression to the results of our deep thinking. You keep restricting the discussion to two stages of "brain and use" without defining use.
DAVID:You've forgotten I have defined use as survival activities. Tool making, etc.

Thank you. In the context of enlargement, that is the clarification I have been waiting for. We agree that brain enlargement precedes survival activities such as tool making. My point is that the CONCEPT of the tool must precede the making, and conceptualization according to you is independent of the brain. Therefore, just as the concept of reading demanded a rewiring of the illiterate women’s brains in order to be implemented, earlier concepts demanded enlargement for the same reason. So why assume that the process was reversed in earlier times, and the means of implementing the concept preceded the concept? In answer to the habilis and erectus comment: habilis’s simple tools required the first enlargement so that he could implement his simple but brand new concepts, and erectus’s new tools (plus use of fire, engravings and other more sophisticated advances) demanded another enlargement. Once more, we both want enlargement before realization, but you also want it before thought, although you believe that thought does not depend on the brain. (Of course the archaeological remains can’t tell us anything about the sequence.)

dhw: If you/your consciousness do not need the brain to do your thinking (as you have agreed), once more the sequence is: 1) concept; 2) big brain; 3)realization of concept (= use of brain).
DAVID: I don't know how you can describe my use of brain this way. My brain is my gateway to my consciousness.

As you keep agreeing and forgetting, you/your consciousness are an inseparable entity, and as explained above, your brain is the gateway through which you/your consciousness get your body to realize new concepts.

DAVID: Only the recent development of the H. sapiens brain, starting 350,000 years ago allowed the complexity that required densification. Your sequence is backwards. Our current modern brain is filled with concepts and shrinking. Why isn't it enlarging per your hypothesis?

Because there has to be a limit to enlargement, or you will end up with an elephant’s head on an ape’s body. Once the maximum size was reached, the only way new concepts could be implemented by the brain was through densification. Shrinkage is merely a by-product of the efficiency of densification.

Evolution and humans:big brain size and food supply

by David Turell @, Friday, June 23, 2017, 02:11 (151 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID:You've forgotten I have defined use as survival activities. Tool making, etc.

dhw: Thank you. In the context of enlargement, that is the clarification I have been waiting for. We agree that brain enlargement precedes survival activities such as tool making. My point is that the CONCEPT of the tool must precede the making, and conceptualization according to you is independent of the brain.

I never said that. The level of conceptualization ability is directly related to the size and complexity of the brain, especially the prefrontal and frontal areas.

dhw: Therefore, just as the concept of reading demanded a rewiring of the illiterate women’s brains in order to be implemented, earlier concepts demanded enlargement for the same reason.

Exactly backwards. Reading was done by the already enlarged brain. Rewiring results in densification and shrinkage of brain size.

dhw: So why assume that the process was reversed in earlier times, and the means of implementing the concept preceded the concept? In answer to the habilis and erectus comment: habilis’s simple tools required the first enlargement so that he could implement his simple but brand new concepts, and erectus’s new tools (plus use of fire, engravings and other more sophisticated advances) demanded another enlargement. Once more, we both want enlargement before realization, but you also want it before thought, although you believe that thought does not depend on the brain. (Of course the archaeological remains can’t tell us anything about the sequence.)

You can't get around the fact that each bigger size is associated with more complex survival strategies. Under your idea, h. habilis wants to control fire, but can't figure out how to do it so he tries to think very hard and his brain suddenly jumps 200cc of frontal lobe. H. habilis doesn't know what he is missing by not being erectus! Habilis had no idea a spear was a better way to hunt. He did not have any inkling.

DAVID: I don't know how you can describe my use of brain this way. My brain is my gateway to my consciousness.

dhw: As you keep agreeing and forgetting, you/your consciousness are an inseparable entity, and as explained above, your brain is the gateway through which you/your consciousness get your body to realize new concepts.

My self, my brain and my consciousness are seamless. I'm not forgetting.


DAVID: Only the recent development of the H. sapiens brain, starting 350,000 years ago allowed the complexity that required densification. Your sequence is backwards. Our current modern brain is filled with concepts and shrinking. Why isn't it enlarging per your hypothesis?

dhw: Because there has to be a limit to enlargement, or you will end up with an elephant’s head on an ape’s body. Once the maximum size was reached, the only way new concepts could be implemented by the brain was through densification. Shrinkage is merely a by-product of the efficiency of densification.

Neanderthal brains were 150cc larger. We could have enlarged a little more. I didn't say we needed more enlargement. We shrunk with increased complexity and density, and that is one reason why I think evolution is over. You have just proved my point.

Evolution and humans:big brain size and food supply

by dhw, Friday, June 23, 2017, 14:28 (151 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID:You've forgotten I have defined use as survival activities. Tool making, etc.
dhw: Thank you. In the context of enlargement, that is the clarification I have been waiting for. We agree that brain enlargement precedes survival activities such as tool making. My point is that the CONCEPT of the tool must precede the making, and conceptualization according to you is independent of the brain.
DAVID: I never said that. The level of conceptualization ability is directly related to the size and complexity of the brain, especially the prefrontal and frontal areas.

Concepts are ideas or thoughts, and whether simple or complex, your dualism argues that thought is independent of the brain. It is the materialization of thought that depends on the brain.

dhw: Therefore, just as the concept of reading demanded a rewiring of the illiterate women’s brains in order to be implemented, earlier concepts demanded enlargement for the same reason.
DAVID: Exactly backwards. Reading was done by the already enlarged brain. Rewiring results in densification and shrinkage of brain size.

Of course the brain was already enlarged, but reading required something new of the brain. Enlargement is over, and so the new method of implementing new concepts is densification through rewiring. The brain therefore responded to the new need by rewiring itself.

DAVID: You can't get around the fact that each bigger size is associated with more complex survival strategies. Under your idea, h. habilis wants to control fire, but can't figure out how to do it so he tries to think very hard and his brain suddenly jumps 200cc of frontal lobe. H. habilis doesn't know what he is missing by not being erectus! Habilis had no idea a spear was a better way to hunt. He did not have any inkling.

You can’t get around the fact that each bigger size is associated with the IMPLEMENTATION of more complex survival strategies, e.g. in the form of new tools. The strategy is the immaterial figuring out how to do it, which has to precede the doing, and the doing needs new material skills: the making and handling of the tools. Your brain doesn’t tell “you”/your conscious mind how to make and handle them. You/your mind work it out, and then get the brain and body to perform the material tasks. That is what requires changes to the brain. Just as the concept of reading required changes to the brains of the illiterate women – but in their case, densification instead of enlargement. Concept first, brain change second, realization of concept third.

DAVID: My brain is my gateway to my consciousness.
dhw: As you keep agreeing and forgetting, you/your consciousness are an inseparable entity, and as explained above, your brain is the gateway through which you/your consciousness get your body to realize new concepts.
DAVID: My self, my brain and my consciousness are seamless. I'm not forgetting.

But you are forgetting that according to your own beliefs, your self and your consciousness do the thinking (otherwise they could not survive into the afterlife), and so the brain is the gateway through which you/your consciousness translate thought into material action.

DAVID: Our current modern brain is filled with concepts and shrinking. Why isn't it enlarging per your hypothesis?
dhw: Because there has to be a limit to enlargement, or you will end up with an elephant’s head on an ape’s body. Once the maximum size was reached, the only way new concepts could be implemented by the brain was through densification. Shrinkage is merely a by-product of the efficiency of densification.
DAVID: Neanderthal brains were 150cc larger. We could have enlarged a little more. I didn't say we needed more enlargement. We shrunk with increased complexity and density, and that is one reason why I think evolution is over. You have just proved my point.

You asked why our brain is not enlarging. There has to be a limit. Densification took over from enlargement as the means whereby the brain increased its capacity to realize new concepts. I have suggested that shrinkage is a by-product of efficient densification. How on earth the densification of the human brain as a replacement for enlargement means that evolution is over I really don’t know. Let’s meet in a couple of billion years’ time to find out.

Evolution and humans:big brain size and food supply

by David Turell @, Friday, June 23, 2017, 15:42 (150 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: Concepts are ideas or thoughts, and whether simple or complex, your dualism argues that thought is independent of the brain. It is the materialization of thought that depends on the brain.

No it doesn't. I do not separate the parts during life, only in death.


dhw: Therefore, just as the concept of reading demanded a rewiring of the illiterate women’s brains in order to be implemented, earlier concepts demanded enlargement for the same reason.
DAVID: Exactly backwards. Reading was done by the already enlarged brain. Rewiring results in densification and shrinkage of brain size.

dhw: Of course the brain was already enlarged, but reading required something new of the brain. Enlargement is over, and so the new method of implementing new concepts is densification through rewiring. The brain therefore responded to the new need by rewiring itself.

Yes.


DAVID: You can't get around the fact that each bigger size is associated with more complex survival strategies. Under your idea, h. habilis wants to control fire, but can't figure out how to do it so he tries to think very hard and his brain suddenly jumps 200cc of frontal lobe. H. habilis doesn't know what he is missing by not being erectus! Habilis had no idea a spear was a better way to hunt. He did not have any inkling.

dhw: You can’t get around the fact that each bigger size is associated with the IMPLEMENTATION of more complex survival strategies, e.g. in the form of new tools. The strategy is the immaterial figuring out how to do it, which has to precede the doing, and the doing needs new material skills: the making and handling of the tools. Your brain doesn’t tell “you”/your conscious mind how to make and handle them. You/your mind work it out, and then get the brain and body to perform the material tasks. That is what requires changes to the brain. Just as the concept of reading required changes to the brains of the illiterate women – but in their case, densification instead of enlargement. Concept first, brain change second, realization of concept third.

Totally missed my point. Habilis can't even imagine a spear, only flint hand tools. Erectus has the imagination to invent it. Size first, use second.

DAVID: Neanderthal brains were 150cc larger. We could have enlarged a little more. I didn't say we needed more enlargement. We shrunk with increased complexity and density, and that is one reason why I think evolution is over. You have just proved my point.

dhw: You asked why our brain is not enlarging. There has to be a limit. Densification took over from enlargement as the means whereby the brain increased its capacity to realize new concepts. I have suggested that shrinkage is a by-product of efficient densification. How on earth the densification of the human brain as a replacement for enlargement means that evolution is over I really don’t know. Let’s meet in a couple of billion years’ time to find out.

I just use the evidence at hand. I've cut the discussion here because it is duplicated in another thread.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Wednesday, June 21, 2017, 12:32 (153 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: Yes, the brain has plasticity to mold itself to your needs, but if you/your consciousness are a separate entity which survives the death of the brain, you do not need the brain in order to develop your thoughts (mold the content of your consciousness). You only need it in order to communicate or realize your concepts in the material world of this life.
DAVID: Yes!

This was the final part of my last post and you agreed. And yet in the rest of your post, you tried to disagree:

dhw: You have agreed that you and your consciousness are an inseparable entity. Yes, you/your consciousness operate the brain. No, “you” do not “receive” your consciousness – according to you, it is the brain that receives the messages from you/your consciousness.
DAVID: No, I operate my consciousness through my brain.

You agree that you/your consciousness are the entity that operates the receiver brain in order to communicate or realize your concepts. What are you saying “no” to?

dhw: In YOUR dualistic world it is the material realization/communication of our thoughts that requires the enlarged brain, not the enlarged brain that enables us to have our thoughts.
DAVID: In my view only a very complex brain can use the mechanism of consciousness to the extent we now use it. The pattern of frontal lobe development allowed all of the complex conceptual thinking we do now. We start with a consciousness after birth with an empty slate and form its content and its use. It has to be learned.

According to your dualistic beliefs, the brain does NOT use us/our consciousness, we/our consciousness use the brain. The frontal lobe development did not “allow” our complex thinking, but it allowed us to translate our complex thinking into realizations and communications, as you have agreed. Yes, according to your dualistic beliefs, it is we/our consciousness that undergo development throughout our lives (and possibly beyond), and the brain responds to all these developments by allowing us to translate them into communication and realization in the material world of this life. “Yes!” you said. So why do you keep disagreeing?

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Thursday, June 22, 2017, 01:19 (152 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: You have agreed that you and your consciousness are an inseparable entity. Yes, you/your consciousness operate the brain. No, “you” do not “receive” your consciousness – according to you, it is the brain that receives the messages from you/your consciousness.

DAVID: No, I operate my consciousness through my brain.

dhw:You agree that you/your consciousness are the entity that operates the receiver brain in order to communicate or realize your concepts. What are you saying “no” to?

Because you distort my concept. My brain is a material part of material me. I can only connect to my consciousness through the direct use of my brain by me. I do this in a material way and connect to my consciousness in thought through the brain. I think there is a material me operating my brain and an immaterial me/consciousness I reach through my brain.

DAVID: In my view only a very complex brain can use the mechanism of consciousness to the extent we now use it. The pattern of frontal lobe development allowed all of the complex conceptual thinking we do now. We start with a consciousness after birth with an empty slate and form its content and its use. It has to be learned.

dhw: According to your dualistic beliefs, the brain does NOT use us/our consciousness, we/our consciousness use the brain.

My newborn example doesn't say that. The newborn creates the shapes and forms that make his consciousness unique. He does this by operating on his consciousness through his brain.

dhw: The frontal lobe development did not “allow” our complex thinking, but it allowed us to translate our complex thinking into realizations and communications, as you have agreed. Yes, according to your dualistic beliefs, it is we/our consciousness that undergo development throughout our lives (and possibly beyond), and the brain responds to all these developments by allowing us to translate them into communication and realization in the material world of this life. “Yes!” you said. So why do you keep disagreeing?

Not exactly, as explained above.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Thursday, June 22, 2017, 18:31 (151 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: Yes, the brain has plasticity to mold itself to your needs, but if you/your consciousness are a separate entity which survives the death of the brain, you do not need the brain in order to develop your thoughts (mold the content of your consciousness). You only need it in order to communicate or realize your concepts in the material world of this life.
DAVID: Yes!

Dhw: You have agreed that you and your consciousness are an inseparble entity. Yes, you/your consciousness operate the brain. No, “you” do not “receive” your consciousness – according to you, it is the brain that receives the messages from you/your consciousness.
DAVID: No, I operate my consciousness through my brain.
dhw:You agree that you/your consciousness are the entity that operates the receiver brain in order to communicate or realize your concepts. What are you saying “no” to?
DAVID: Because you distort my concept. My brain is a material part of material me. I can only connect to my consciousness through the direct use of my brain by me.

The material you is your body, and yes, your brain is indeed part of your body. But according to your beliefs, your identity and your consciousness are an inseparable entity which survives the death of the body. “You” as an identity do not connect to your consciousness through the brain. The inseparable entity of you/your consciousness connects to your material body through the brain!

DAVID: I do this in a material way and connect to my consciousness in thought through the brain. I think there is a material me operating my brain and an immaterial me/consciousness I reach through my brain.

So now you have your body (material me) operating your brain. And yet you replied with an emphatic “Yes!”” when I said your conscious mind (the immaterial you) used the brain to make the body translate thought into action. But perhaps Doctor David and Philosopher David are confusing one another. If we agree that the brain is a receiver, it receives messages both from mind and from body. The mind produces the concepts and the decisions which it relays to the brain and thence to the body to put into action. But the body also produces aches and pains and needs and information which it relays to the brain, which in turn relays them to the mind, which then takes a decision and instructs the brain to organize a phone call to Dr David. So there is indeed a two-way process, but at all times – according to your dualistic beliefs - you/your consciousness are an entity which does all the thinking, operates the brain, processes the information, takes the decisions, and constitutes the conscious self which survives the death of the brain.

dhw: According to your dualistic beliefs, the brain does NOT use us/our consciousness, we/our consciousness use the brain.
DAVID: My newborn example doesn't say that. The newborn creates the shapes and forms that make his consciousness unique. He does this by operating on his consciousness through his brain.

You keep agreeing that he/his consciousness are an inseparable entity, and then you keep separating them! He/his consciousness doesn’t “operate on his consciousness”. He/his consciousness creates the shapes and forms that make him unique, and it does so by absorbing and processing the information provided by the material brain/body, largely through the senses, which are our main means of contact with the material world. (I would not like to speculate here on the degree to which our identity is moulded by our body or by our subconscious, since our discussion concerns the relationship between the brain and the entity of consciousness/self within the context of your own dualistic beliefs.) As the brain matures, and as life proceeds with its individual experiences, the amount of information accumulates and the baby/child/adult’s consciousness/identity creates its unique “shapes” accordingly. It is the inseparable self/consciousness that “uses” the information provided by the brain, and according to your beliefs retains and even uses that information when the brain and body are dead.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Friday, June 23, 2017, 01:50 (151 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Because you distort my concept. My brain is a material part of material me. I can only connect to my consciousness through the direct use of my brain by me.

dhw: The material you is your body, and yes, your brain is indeed part of your body. But according to your beliefs, your identity and your consciousness are an inseparable entity which survives the death of the body. “You” as an identity do not connect to your consciousness through the brain. The inseparable entity of you/your consciousness connects to your material body through the brain!

When I am unconscious I am not connected to my consciousness. NDE's tell me that consciousness can survive death. Therefore it takes me into the afterlife, brain no longer necessary


DAVID: I do this in a material way and connect to my consciousness in thought through the brain. I think there is a material me operating my brain and an immaterial me/consciousness I reach through my brain.

dhw: So now you have your body (material me) operating your brain. And yet you replied with an emphatic “Yes!”” when I said your conscious mind (the immaterial you) used the brain to make the body translate thought into action.

The yes is obvious. I control my body and my thoughts through my brain and I can run the motor areas of my brain to move, to talk, etc. Yes I use my brain to think immaterial thoughts That is all the yes means. What underlying meaning are you implying?

dhw: If we agree that the brain is a receiver, it receives messages both from mind and from body. The mind produces the concepts and the decisions which it relays to the brain and thence to the body to put into action. But the body also produces aches and pains and needs and information which it relays to the brain, which in turn relays them to the mind, which then takes a decision and instructs the brain to organize a phone call to Dr David. So there is indeed a two-way process, but at all times – according to your dualistic beliefs - you/your consciousness are an entity which does all the thinking, operates the brain, processes the information, takes the decisions, and constitutes the conscious self which survives the death of the brain.

This is missing one point. I view the brain as equivalent to a computer and the consciousness mechanism it receives is the software. I run my computer. As a newborn I don't know how to control any of this, but with time I learn to use my consciousness


dhw: According to your dualistic beliefs, the brain does NOT use us/our consciousness, we/our consciousness use the brain.
DAVID: My newborn example doesn't say that. The newborn creates the shapes and forms that make his consciousness unique. He does this by operating on his consciousness through his brain.

dhw: You keep agreeing that he/his consciousness are an inseparable entity, and then you keep separating them! He/his consciousness doesn’t “operate on his consciousness”. He/his consciousness creates the shapes and forms that make him unique, and it does so by absorbing and processing the information provided by the material brain/body, largely through the senses, which are our main means of contact with the material world.

I view myself, my consciousness and my brain as a seamless arrangement. The only separation is at death, or in an NDE. Dualism: my brain and I are the material side; My consciousness and I are the immaterial side, joined together by the function of the brain.

dhw: As the brain matures, and as life proceeds with its individual experiences, the amount of information accumulates and the baby/child/adult’s consciousness/identity creates its unique “shapes” accordingly. It is the inseparable self/consciousness that “uses” the information provided by the brain, and according to your beliefs retains and even uses that information when the brain and body are dead.

That statement seems like my beliefs, but we keep talking past each other so I wonder what difference you may be inferring.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Friday, June 23, 2017, 14:23 (151 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: When I am unconscious I am not connected to my consciousness. NDE's tell me that consciousness can survive death. Therefore it takes me into the afterlife, brain no longer necessary.

The NDEs you believe in tell you that you/your consciousness do not depend on the brain for identity or for the power to think. During NDEs “you” are NOT unconscious – you are consciously experiencing the afterlife. You then return to your resuscitated brain and use it to recount your experiences.

DAVID: I think there is a material me operating my brain and an immaterial me/consciousness I reach through my brain.
dhw: So now you have your body (material me) operating your brain. And yet you replied with an emphatic “Yes!”” when I said your conscious mind (the immaterial you) used the brain to make the body translate thought into action.
DAVID: The yes is obvious. I control my body and my thoughts through my brain and I can run the motor areas of my brain to move, to talk, etc. Yes I use my brain to think immaterial thoughts. That is all the yes means. What underlying meaning are you implying?

You are intermingling two different processes. Yes, you control your body through your brain, but according to your beliefs, no, you do not control your thoughts through your brain: the inseparable entity of you/your consciousness controls your thoughts, and these are given material expression through your brain. Yes, you/your consciousness run the motor areas of your brain, but no, you do not use your brain to think immaterial thoughts. Your dualistic belief in a bodiless, brainless afterlife means that you think your immaterial thoughts without a brain. You only need a brain to translate your thoughts into material action and expression in this material world.

dhw: So there is indeed a two-way process, but at all times – according to your dualistic beliefs - you/your consciousness are an entity which does all the thinking, operates the brain, processes the information, takes the decisions, and constitutes the conscious self which survives the death of the brain.
DAVID: This is missing one point. I view the brain as equivalent to a computer and the consciousness mechanism it receives is the software. I run my computer. As a newborn I don't know how to control any of this, but with time I learn to use my consciousness.

Is the “I” that runs the computer brain your material body or your immaterial conscious mind?

DAVID: I view myself, my consciousness and my brain as a seamless arrangement. The only separation is at death, or in an NDE. Dualism: my brain and I are the material side; My consciousness and I are the immaterial side, joined together by the function of the brain.

I agree, since of course your body is part of you while you are alive. But in your dualism, thought is immaterial and its source is not the brain. The starting point of this discussion was your insistence that the large brain is essential for the thoughts or concepts that have led from “primitive” hominins to “civilized” homo sapiens. If you believe that mind and body are separate entities (no matter how closely they work together during earthly life), and that the mind survives the death of the body, you cannot at the same time argue that thought or increased complexity of thought is dependent on the brain or the increased size of the brain. It is the materialization of thought (action, expression, movement etc.) that depends on the brain.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Friday, June 23, 2017, 15:31 (150 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: When I am unconscious I am not connected to my consciousness. NDE's tell me that consciousness can survive death. Therefore it takes me into the afterlife, brain no longer necessary.

dhw: The NDEs you believe in tell you that you/your consciousness do not depend on the brain for identity or for the power to think. During NDEs “you” are NOT unconscious – you are consciously experiencing the afterlife. You then return to your resuscitated brain and use it to recount your experiences.

But first as I revive, I recount the NDE to myself, because I could not know about it until the brain functions again.

DAVID: The yes is obvious. I control my body and my thoughts through my brain and I can run the motor areas of my brain to move, to talk, etc. Yes I use my brain to think immaterial thoughts. That is all the yes means. What underlying meaning are you implying?

dhw:You are intermingling two different processes. Yes, you control your body through your brain, but according to your beliefs, no, you do not control your thoughts through your brain: the inseparable entity of you/your consciousness controls your thoughts, and these are given material expression through your brain. Yes, you/your consciousness run the motor areas of your brain, but no, you do not use your brain to think immaterial thoughts. Your dualistic belief in a bodiless, brainless afterlife means that you think your immaterial thoughts without a brain. You only need a brain to translate your thoughts into material action and expression in this material world.

You keep separating my self, my brain and my consciousness in your analysis. I consider it separable only at death and probably has a different level of functions at that level since NDE's are real experiences without the brain. My sense of self is a portion of my consciousness, but my self is in control of my thoughts, by using my brain during life. You cannot compare life/no life as the same.

DAVID: This is missing one point. I view the brain as equivalent to a computer and the consciousness mechanism it receives is the software. I run my computer. As a newborn I don't know how to control any of this, but with time I learn to use my consciousness.

dhw: Is the “I” that runs the computer brain your material body or your immaterial conscious mind?

I run the brain which uses the consciousness mechanism it receives in life. I create all the aspects of my consciousness from birth, as I learn to use it.


DAVID: I view myself, my consciousness and my brain as a seamless arrangement. The only separation is at death, or in an NDE. Dualism: my brain and I are the material side; My consciousness and I are the immaterial side, joined together by the function of the brain.

dhw: I agree, since of course your body is part of you while you are alive. But in your dualism, thought is immaterial and its source is not the brain. The starting point of this discussion was your insistence that the large brain is essential for the thoughts or concepts that have led from “primitive” hominins to “civilized” homo sapiens. If you believe that mind and body are separate entities (no matter how closely they work together during earthly life), and that the mind survives the death of the body, you cannot at the same time argue that thought or increased complexity of thought is dependent on the brain or the increased size of the brain. It is the materialization of thought (action, expression, movement etc.) that depends on the brain.

My objections explained above. Separation is only at death, not in life.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Saturday, June 24, 2017, 11:53 (150 days ago) @ David Turell

This discussion, like so many, is now going round in circles or shooting off at tangents, and so I will try to summarize the central points.

The starting point is your insistence that your God enlarged the brain in stages, and each enlargement enabled hominins and humans to come up with new ideas. If we leave God out of the discussion for the moment, the sequence of brain first, thoughts second conforms to the materialist theory that the brain is the SOURCE of the mind – i.e. of that part of ourselves which produces our thoughts, ideas, opinions, decisions etc. (This may be so – I am not taking sides.) If the brain is indeed the source of the mind, and thoughts etc. are impossible without it, the obvious conclusion has to be that when the brain dies, the mind dies. There are various theories as to why the brain expanded (upright posture, diet etc.), all of which seem to take for granted that the brain is the source of the mind. Your own theory (”God did it”) clearly does the same, since you maintain that new ideas would not be possible without the enlargement of the brain.

However, dualists claim that the brain is not the source of the mind, which is an immaterial self. The experience of NDEs is that the mind (the immaterial self, complete with its immaterial thoughts, ideas etc.), survives the death of the brain and body. You regard NDEs as evidence for dualism.

These two theories are contradictory. While bearing in mind the distinction between immaterial ideas and the material implementation of those ideas (which entails an inseparable relationship between mind and brain), perhaps you would just clarify for us which of these two conflicting views you hold: 1) the brain is the source of the mind, which depends on the brain for its capacity to think; 2) the brain is not the source of the mind, which produces its immaterial thoughts, ideas etc. independently of the brain.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Saturday, June 24, 2017, 19:29 (149 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: This discussion, like so many, is now going round in circles or shooting off at tangents, and so I will try to summarize the central points.

dhw: These two theories are contradictory. While bearing in mind the distinction between immaterial ideas and the material implementation of those ideas (which entails an inseparable relationship between mind and brain), perhaps you would just clarify for us which of these two conflicting views you hold: 1) the brain is the source of the mind, which depends on the brain for its capacity to think; 2) the brain is not the source of the mind, which produces its immaterial thoughts, ideas etc. independently of the brain.

Neither: based on NDE's the brain receives an independent consciousness mechanism which is immaterial and from infancy learns to use and shape it from a blank slate to an operative mechanism. The computer analogy is not entirely accurate, but as I learn to operate my brain and its consciousness, the brain has the physical ability to modify itself to fit my actions both physically and mentally. Current computers due learn from experience and do some self-modification. I don't care what materialists or dualists think. This is my view.

To go back to hominins, each enlargement of the brain allows greater mental capacity, since it is the thinking pre-frontal and frontal areas that enlarge. The physical areas such as the laryngeal control regions develop as the larynx moves caudally to allow language to develop. the whole process reaches a pinnacle in Neanderthal and sapiens. Physical controls as for spear throwing and running arrive as the shoulders an pelvis change from ape like to human like.

But where you are totally confused is in the recognition that habilis does not know what it does not know. Its demonstrated concepts in its artifacts show what it was capable of producing. This is true at each stage of brain case enlargement. When intense conceptualization arrives, the brain responds by increased density, complexity and a small amount of brain case shrinkage. And this only happened after we civilized enough in the past 50,000 years to use our brain intensively. That had to be learned, obviously, and the lesson can be applied to previous ancestors. That pattern of development must be present since Lucy who was physically changed but had the same brain size as chimps. You want internal drives for development to avoid God operating externally. And you will scoot back to maybe God provided an internal mechanism. God is not 'maybe', and I don't believe you have any valid mechanism for evolution, since you have abandoned Darwin and chance. Planning is required for the gaps I've demonstrated from the studies. Modify a building for new function and you have to hire an architect to plan it out, the structure, the plumbing, the wiring, all coordinated. Organismal bodies are exactly the same. Is there any other way? Of course not.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Saturday, June 24, 2017, 20:43 (149 days ago) @ David Turell

A review article of Homo brain development from studies in embryogenesis. The entire article should be read for full understanding and traces preliminary changes for upright posture back to about 39 million years ago, involving changes to the base of the skull which are required for bipedalism:

http://inference-review.com/article/the-last-threshold

At the end of the twentieth century, the theory that the origins of upright posture originated in climate change was abandoned by Phillip Tobias, a co-author of Leakey’s famous 1964 paper. East and South African habitats, Tobias argued, were a mosaic, ranging from gallery forests to woodlands and savannahs. Ten years later, paleontologists exploring the Ethiopian Rift recognized that Australopithecus afarensis and their quadruped arboreal predecessors, Ardipithecus, also lived in a mosaic environment.

If so, what was the engine driving the development of upright posture?

***

These embryological details have dramatic consequences. The emergence of upright hominid posture need no longer be linked to habitat changes. Its origin must be attributed to the increasing complexity of the nervous system. The embryonic body plan was reorganized through a series of threshold effects which are still in evidence in every human embryo.

***

The sole vertebrate embryo in which the dorsal cord extremity is almost verticalized is that of Homo sapiens. This is a process that began around thirty-nine million years ago in an Asian species of prosimian that underwent a contraction in the base of its skull and a declination of its brain stem. This produced the first degree of neural straightening and cranio-facial contraction in the simians. Twenty-three million years ago, at least one African species of small gibbon-like simians underwent further contraction and declination. This produced the second degree of neural straightening.

***

It is nothing short of remarkable that the ability to create second-degree stone tools emerged from the threshold of embryonic neural verticality. This is not an arbitrary boundary for distinguishing between Homo and other hominins, as is the case with the notion of a cerebral rubicon. The threshold is objective and allows for the deduction of a reorganization of the nervous system and its component neuronal networks with the sensors necessary for controlling the body’s equilibrium. In Homo sapiens, the connections between the cerebellar and cerebral neocortex are known, and it appears they participate in high-level cognitive functions, for example memory, dexterity, language, and reflection. Gestures such as walking and grasping become conscious with psychomotor development.

The great novelty here is the sudden change in posture of the cerebellum, and a new neuronal complexity; the cerebellum had to control its own balance. A new loop of complexity must have developed between the neocortex of the cerebellum and the brain. These connections could then have favored the development of new reflective cognitive capacities associated with movements, those of the hands in particular.

New manual chains of operation reflect a symbolic and conceptual level of thought attributed to the brain of the genus Homo. My suggestion is that the emergence of these capacities should be broadened to encompass the hominin stage, denoted by the verticalization of the cerebellum, such as for Australopithecus, Kenyanthropus, and Paranthropus. Although their brains were smaller than that of Homo habilis, they may have been capable of conceptual and creative innovations. Passing those first thresholds made possible the creative expression of ideas and concepts. (my bold)

Comment: Absolutely, size first, use second! God's preplanning at work! Note my bold. All of my theories come from this article among others. Don't think I've presented this before.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Sunday, June 25, 2017, 14:38 (149 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: A review article of Homo brain development from studies in embryogenesis. The entire article should be read for full understanding and traces preliminary changes for upright posture back to about 39 million years ago, involving changes to the base of the skull which are required for bipedalism:
http://inference-review.com/article/the-last-threshold

QUOTE: New manual chains of operation reflect a symbolic and conceptual level of thought attributed to the brain of the genus Homo. My suggestion is that the emergence of these capacities should be broadened to encompass the hominin stage, denoted by the verticalization of the cerebellum, such as for Australopithecus, Kenyanthropus, and Paranthropus. Although their brains were smaller than that of Homo habilis, they may have been capable of conceptual and creative innovations. Passing those first thresholds made possible the creative expression of ideas and concepts. (DAVID’s bold)

DAVID’s comment: Absolutely, size first, use second! God's preplanning at work! Note my bold. All of my theories come from this article among others. Don't think I've presented this before.

“Size first, use second” is fair enough, since we now know that by use you mean nothing more than material implementation of immaterial thought. There is no doubt the author believes that the brain is the source of thought, including – interestingly – conceptual and creative innovations well before homo habilis. She may well be right. I’m not taking sides in the materialism v dualism debate. Complexification of the nervous system and the verticalization of the skull seem to be her keys to the emergence of Homo sapiens, but I can’t find any indication as to why she thinks this actually took place. She starts with a brief sideswipe at religion, but there’s no mention of God’s planning/dabbling (so I don’t know about “all” your theories), or of random mutations, or of cell communities working it out for themselves. Her causal theory stops at nerves and the base of the skull.

A couple more quotes that I found very interesting:
QUOTE: “Darwin and his contemporaries were themselves part of the Lamarckian revolution. A function gives rise to an organ and then the organ, including the shape of its bone tissues, is gradually modified. Those changes are then, through use, transmitted to later generations.

This leaves out Darwin’s random mutations, but it’s a view that ties in with the hypothesis that physical changes take place in response to needs or opportunities, and not in anticipation of them. Malassé then refers to Arambourg:

Arambourg was not a neo-Darwinian. He was a punctualist, a saltationist, and a Lamarckian:
The well-known facts of morphological convergence in groups with very diverse origins, but living in identical environments, seems to me to be difficult to explain, other than by a certain action of the environment, that is to say by the intervention of a “Lamarckian” cause
.”

I must say I find this explanation very appealing, but Malassé rejects it:

MALASSÉ: These embryological details have dramatic consequences. The emergence of upright hominid posture need no longer be linked to habitat changes. Its origin must be attributed to the increasing complexity of the nervous system. The embryonic body plan was reorganized through a series of threshold effects which are still in evidence in every human embryo.

And this is where, in the context of our discussions, it might have been interesting to know what she regards as the cause of the increasing complexity and the resultant upright posture.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Sunday, June 25, 2017, 19:18 (148 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: A review article of Homo brain development from studies in embryogenesis. The entire article should be read for full understanding and traces preliminary changes for upright posture back to about 39 million years ago, involving changes to the base of the skull which are required for bipedalism:
http://inference-review.com/article/the-last-threshold

QUOTE: New manual chains of operation reflect a symbolic and conceptual level of thought attributed to the brain of the genus Homo. My suggestion is that the emergence of these capacities should be broadened to encompass the hominin stage, denoted by the verticalization of the cerebellum, such as for Australopithecus, Kenyanthropus, and Paranthropus. Although their brains were smaller than that of Homo habilis, they may have been capable of conceptual and creative innovations. Passing those first thresholds made possible the creative expression of ideas and concepts. (DAVID’s bold)

DAVID’s comment: Absolutely, size first, use second! God's preplanning at work! Note my bold. All of my theories come from this article among others. Don't think I've presented this before.

dhw: “Size first, use second” is fair enough, since we now know that by use you mean nothing more than material implementation of immaterial thought. There is no doubt the author believes that the brain is the source of thought, including – interestingly – conceptual and creative innovations well before homo habilis. She may well be right. I’m not taking sides in the materialism v dualism debate. Complexification of the nervous system and the verticalization of the skull seem to be her keys to the emergence of Homo sapiens, but I can’t find any indication as to why she thinks this actually took place. She starts with a brief sideswipe at religion, but there’s no mention of God’s planning/dabbling (so I don’t know about “all” your theories), or of random mutations, or of cell communities working it out for themselves. Her causal theory stops at nerves and the base of the skull.

Size first, use second is exactly as you now recognize I mean it. Brain growth is not from attempted conceptualization beyond the capacity of a particular sized brain. She shows pre-planning in the small changes. She is a scientist, not a theist. I'm the theist interpreting her work.


dhw: A couple more quotes that I found very interesting:
QUOTE: “Darwin and his contemporaries were themselves part of the Lamarckian revolution. A function gives rise to an organ and then the organ, including the shape of its bone tissues, is gradually modified. Those changes are then, through use, transmitted to later generations.

This leaves out Darwin’s random mutations, but it’s a view that ties in with the hypothesis that physical changes take place in response to needs or opportunities, and not in anticipation of them. Malassé then refers to Arambourg:

Arambourg was not a neo-Darwinian. He was a punctualist, a saltationist, and a Lamarckian:
The well-known facts of morphological convergence in groups with very diverse origins, but living in identical environments, seems to me to be difficult to explain, other than by a certain action of the environment, that is to say by the intervention of a “Lamarckian” cause
.”

I must say I find this explanation very appealing, but Malassé rejects it:

MALASSÉ: These embryological details have dramatic consequences. The emergence of upright hominid posture need no longer be linked to habitat changes. Its origin must be attributed to the increasing complexity of the nervous system. The embryonic body plan was reorganized through a series of threshold effects which are still in evidence in every human embryo.

dhw: And this is where, in the context of our discussions, it might have been interesting to know what she regards as the cause of the increasing complexity and the resultant upright posture.

I don't know if she has religious thoughts, but her whole work smells of teleology as humans appear in their earlier forms, and previous monkey forms have minor changes with no immediate benefit, but are obviously preparatory for bipedalism.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Monday, June 26, 2017, 13:36 (148 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: “Size first, use second” is fair enough, since we now know that by use you mean nothing more than material implementation of immaterial thought.
DAVID: Size first, use second is exactly as you now recognize I mean it. Brain growth is not from attempted conceptualization beyond the capacity of a particular sized brain.

Once again you are equivocating. It is not attempted conceptualization that would cause brain growth but attempted material implementation of new concepts. In this dualistic hypothesis, the existing brain is not capable of implementing the concept of the spear, and so it has to add to its capacity. Concept first, brain growth second, implementation third.

dhw: She starts with a brief sideswipe at religion, but there’s no mention of God’s planning/dabbling (so I don’t know about “all” your theories), or of random mutations, or of cell communities working it out for themselves. Her causal theory stops at nerves and the base of the skull.
DAVID: She shows pre-planning in the small changes. She is a scientist, not a theist. I'm the theist interpreting her work.

The small changes are, of course, very interesting in view of your hostility to Darwin’s gradualism (though in general I agree with you that saltation seems far more likely in most cases of innovation), but “pre-planning” is entirely your theistic interpretation of her thesis.

MALASSÉ: These embryological details have dramatic consequences. The emergence of upright hominid posture need no longer be linked to habitat changes. Its origin must be attributed to the increasing complexity of the nervous system. The embryonic body plan was reorganized through a series of threshold effects which are still in evidence in every human embryo.
dhw: And this is where, in the context of our discussions, it might have been interesting to know what she regards as the cause of the increasing complexity and the resultant upright posture.
DAVID: I don't know if she has religious thoughts, but her whole work smells of teleology as humans appear in their earlier forms, and previous monkey forms have minor changes with no immediate benefit, but are obviously preparatory for bipedalism.

I can’t whiff any teleology in her work, and you are simply guessing that the changes had no benefit. Malassé actually suggests that the changes may denote “conceptual and creative innovations well before homo habilis”, so you certainly can’t derive your assumption from her work. The changes clearly mark transitional stages on the way to full bipedalism, but in the context of your belief that your God’s one and only purpose was the production of Homo sapiens, that only raises the question of why the heck he didn’t just get on with it instead of messing around with all these itsy-bitsy twiddles to the position of the skull, and all these different hominins, and all these different pre-whales. What happened to the good old saltatory method? No need to answer. I know it doesn’t make sense to you either, but in your own immortal words: “If it’s God’s method, it does not have to make sense.”

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Monday, June 26, 2017, 14:26 (148 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Size first, use second is exactly as you now recognize I mean it. Brain growth is not from attempted conceptualization beyond the capacity of a particular sized brain.

dhw: Once again you are equivocating. It is not attempted conceptualization that would cause brain growth but attempted material implementation of new concepts. In this dualistic hypothesis, the existing brain is not capable of implementing the concept of the spear, and so it has to add to its capacity. Concept first, brain growth second, implementation third.

Just the opposite. More complex size, then more thought capacity. You want the brain to tell itself to enlarge for thoughts it has no knowledge of! "I can't think of a spear, I'd better enlarge."

DAVID: She shows pre-planning in the small changes. She is a scientist, not a theist. I'm the theist interpreting her work.

dhw: The small changes are, of course, very interesting in view of your hostility to Darwin’s gradualism (though in general I agree with you that saltation seems far more likely in most cases of innovation), but “pre-planning” is entirely your theistic interpretation of her thesis.

My hostility to Darwin is the world swallowed it hook line and sinker, and now Darwinists are trying to explain away gradualism. Not his fault. He didn't know any better.

DAVID: I don't know if she has religious thoughts, but her whole work smells of teleology as humans appear in their earlier forms, and previous monkey forms have minor changes with no immediate benefit, but are obviously preparatory for bipedalism.

dhw: I can’t whiff any teleology in her work, and you are simply guessing that the changes had no benefit. Malassé actually suggests that the changes may denote “conceptual and creative innovations well before homo habilis”, so you certainly can’t derive your assumption from her work.

And who made those innovations?

dhw:The changes clearly mark transitional stages on the way to full bipedalism, but in the context of your belief that your God’s one and only purpose was the production of Homo sapiens, that only raises the question of why the heck he didn’t just get on with it instead of messing around with all these itsy-bitsy twiddles to the position of the skull, and all these different hominins, and all these different pre-whales. What happened to the good old saltatory method? No need to answer. I know it doesn’t make sense to you either, but in your own immortal words: “If it’s God’s method, it does not have to make sense.”

Thank you. You have pointed out dabbling!

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Tuesday, June 27, 2017, 15:06 (146 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Brain growth is not from attempted conceptualization beyond the capacity of a particular sized brain.
dhw: Once again you are equivocating. It is not attempted conceptualization that would cause brain growth but attempted material implementation of new concepts. In this dualistic hypothesis, the existing brain is not capable of implementing the concept of the spear, and so it has to add to its capacity. Concept first, brain growth second, implementation third.
DAVID: Just the opposite. More complex size, then more thought capacity. You want the brain to tell itself to enlarge for thoughts it has no knowledge of! "I can't think of a spear, I'd better enlarge."

The brain, you keep telling us, is only a RECEIVER. And so according to your own beliefs, it is the independent conscious self that thinks of a spear and tells the brain to enlarge so that the body can make and use the spear. Where do you think ideas come from: your receiver brain or your conscious self? Do please answer.

DAVID: My hostility to Darwin is the world swallowed it hook line and sinker, and now Darwinists are trying to explain away gradualism. Not his fault. He didn't know any better.

And yet here you are telling us that your God produced humans by an itty-bitty process of gradual verticalization for no apparent purpose. But I agree with you that Darwin was wrong in his opposition to saltations. Perhaps, though, you should direct your hostility towards those who misrepresent Darwinism or who defend those aspects of his theory which even he might well have rejected if he had known what we know now.

DAVID: I don't know if she has religious thoughts, but her whole work smells of teleology as humans appear in their earlier forms, and previous monkey forms have minor changes with no immediate benefit, but are obviously preparatory for bipedalism.
dhw: I can’t whiff any teleology in her work, and you are simply guessing that the changes had no benefit. Malassé actually suggests that the changes may denote “conceptual and creative innovations well before homo habilis”, so you certainly can’t derive your assumption from her work.
DAVID: And who made those innovations?

The hominins!

dhw:[…] What happened to the good old saltatory method? No need to answer. I know it doesn’t make sense to you either, but in your own immortal words: “If it’s God’s method, it does not have to make sense.”
DAVID: Thank you. You have pointed out dabbling!

I have pointed out that even you can see no sense in your theory that God preprogrammed or dabbled all these different itsy-bitsy twiddles and all the hominins and all the pre-whales when all he really wanted to do was produce sapiens.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Tuesday, June 27, 2017, 20:32 (146 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: The brain, you keep telling us, is only a RECEIVER. And so according to your own beliefs, it is the independent conscious self that thinks of a spear and tells the brain to enlarge so that the body can make and use the spear. Where do you think ideas come from: your receiver brain or your conscious self? Do please answer.

I don't know why you have understood my view. The brain is an active receiver of consciousness about which I have many times said that in a way the brain is a computer using consciousness as a software, an inexact analogy but it expresses my concept. I use my consciousness through my brain just as I direct my conputer at my keyboard.

dhw: Perhaps, though, you should direct your hostility towards those who misrepresent Darwinism or who defend those aspects of his theory which even he might well have rejected if he had known what we know now.

I don't blame Darwin. He didn't know what he didn't know. My hostility is toward the non-thinking Darwinists.


DAVID: I don't know if she has religious thoughts, but her whole work smells of teleology as humans appear in their earlier forms, and previous monkey forms have minor changes with no immediate benefit, but are obviously preparatory for bipedalism.

dhw: I can’t whiff any teleology in her work, and you are simply guessing that the changes had no benefit. Malassé actually suggests that the changes may denote “conceptual and creative innovations well before homo habilis”, so you certainly can’t derive your assumption from her work.

DAVID: And who made those innovations?

dhw: The hominins!

My comment is misunderstood. God made the bodily innovations. And how did the hominins make their innovations? Using a big brain they were given as a new species.


dhw: I have pointed out that even you can see no sense in your theory that God preprogrammed or dabbled all these different itsy-bitsy twiddles and all the hominins and all the pre-whales when all he really wanted to do was produce sapiens.

It all makes perfect sense if you accept balance of nature as a necessary part of evolution. And if you accept that God uses evolutionary processes to make the universe, the Earth, and evolved life to the point that humans appear. But you don't want to accept God. If you accepted what I present as 'evidence' you would have to accept God. So be it. We'll continue the debate.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Wednesday, June 28, 2017, 13:32 (146 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: The brain, you keep telling us, is only a RECEIVER. And so according to your own beliefs, it is the independent conscious self that thinks of a spear and tells the brain to enlarge so that the body can make and use the spear. Where do you think ideas come from: your receiver brain or your conscious self? Do please answer.
DAVID: I don't know why you have understood my view. The brain is an active receiver of consciousness about which I have many times said that in a way the brain is a computer using consciousness as a software, an inexact analogy but it expresses my concept. I use my consciousness through my brain just as I direct my conputer at my keyboard.

Why bother with an inexact analogy? You believe you have a material receiver brain and an immaterial conscious self. So do you believe your ideas come from your material receiver brain or from your immaterial conscious self?

dhw: Malassé actually suggests that the changes may denote “conceptual and creative innovations well before homo habilis”, so you certainly can’t derive your assumption from her work.
DAVID: And who made those innovations?
dhw: The hominins!
DAVID: My comment is misunderstood. God made the bodily innovations. And how did the hominins make their innovations? Using a big brain they were given as a new species.

The hominins did indeed make their innovations by using their big brains. The question is whether the big brain engendered the concept of the spear, or the concept of the spear required and so engendered a bigger brain.

dhw: I have pointed out that even you can see no sense in your theory that God preprogrammed or dabbled all these different itsy-bitsy twiddles and all the hominins and all the pre-whales when all he really wanted to do was produce sapiens.
DAVID: It all makes perfect sense if you accept balance of nature as a necessary part of evolution.

Your "balance of nature" means life continues, regardless of what organisms survive, and of course evolution needs life to continue. You might just as well say life is a necessary part of evolution. Hardly a revelation.

DAVID: And if you accept that God uses evolutionary processes to make the universe, the Earth, and evolved life to the point that humans appear.

If God exists, of course I accept it. But that does not mean God specially designed the eight stages of the whale in order to keep life going until he could produce humans.

DAVID: But you don't want to accept God. If you accepted what I present as 'evidence' you would have to accept God. So be it. We'll continue the debate.

Irrelevant when our discussion is not over the existence of God but over his motives and methods. You constantly try to divert attention away from the self-confessed senselessness of your anthropocentric evolutionary hypothesis. (“If it’s God’s method, it does not have to make sense.”)

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Wednesday, June 28, 2017, 17:48 (145 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: Why bother with an inexact analogy? You believe you have a material receiver brain and an immaterial conscious self. So do you believe your ideas come from your material receiver brain or from your immaterial conscious self?

I create my own ideations using my material brain to employ my immaterial consciousness. A seamless arrangement.

DAVID: My comment is misunderstood. God made the bodily innovations. And how did the hominins make their innovations? Using a big brain they were given as a new species.

dhw: The hominins did indeed make their innovations by using their big brains. The question is whether the big brain engendered the concept of the spear, or the concept of the spear required and so engendered a bigger brain.

Habilis concepts rewired their brain, as proven in H sapiens Indian women learning to read. Size same until erectus arrived. Obvious.


DAVID: And if you accept that God uses evolutionary processes to make the universe, the Earth, and evolved life to the point that humans appear.

dhw: If God exists, of course I accept it. But that does not mean God specially designed the eight stages of the whale in order to keep life going until he could produce humans.

I still think whales are designed by God, as a side branch of evolution, but it is a large branch when you consider manatees, dugongs, orcas, dolphins, etc. All fit eco-niches and contribute to balance of nature.


DAVID: But you don't want to accept God. If you accepted what I present as 'evidence' you would have to accept God. So be it. We'll continue the debate.

dhw: Irrelevant when our discussion is not over the existence of God but over his motives and methods. You constantly try to divert attention away from the self-confessed senselessness of your anthropocentric evolutionary hypothesis. (“If it’s God’s method, it does not have to make sense.”)

It doesn't have to make sense if one is blindly faithful. I'm trying to make some sense of it with you, but you are blinded to the faith side of the issue. Creation of consciousness in the pinnacle of evolution (H. sapiens) is an obvious purpose. Its development is not explained otherwise. And you deny chance! God might want to be able to communicate with His creations.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Sunday, June 25, 2017, 14:32 (149 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: These two theories are contradictory. While bearing in mind the distinction between immaterial ideas and the material implementation of those ideas (which entails an inseparable relationship between mind and brain), perhaps you would just clarify for us which of these two conflicting views you hold: 1) the brain is the source of the mind, which depends on the brain for its capacity to think; 2) the brain is not the source of the mind, which produces its immaterial thoughts, ideas etc. independently of the brain.
DAVID: Neither: based on NDE's the brain receives an independent consciousness mechanism which is immaterial and from infancy learns to use and shape it from a blank slate to an operative mechanism.

Here you have the brain learning to use and shape consciousness, although the brain is only a receiver.

DAVID: The computer analogy is not entirely accurate, but as I learn to operate my brain and its consciousness, the brain has the physical ability to modify itself to fit my actions both physically and mentally.

There is no disagreement over the plasticity of the brain. The question is what moulds or “modifies” it, but according to your first sentence it is the brain that uses and shapes (= moulds/modifies) consciousness. In your second sentence there is a “you” that operates (= “learns to use and shape”?) both the brain and the BRAIN’s consciousness, although you say consciousness is independent of the brain and – crucially – you believe that “you” and your consciousness are an entity which survives the death of the body and brain. This ought to mean that the entity of you/your consciousness learns to operate the brain, as opposed to the brain using and shaping you/your consciousness. We can unravel this tangled web if you give a straightforward answer to a straightforward question: do you believe that the brain is the source of our capacity to think? But I suspect that you would rather not answer in the light of the following:

DAVID: To go back to hominins, each enlargement of the brain allows greater mental capacity, since it is the thinking pre-frontal and frontal areas that enlarge. The physical areas such as the laryngeal control regions develop as the larynx moves caudally to allow language to develop. the whole process reaches a pinnacle in Neanderthal and sapiens. Physical controls as for spear throwing and running arrive as the shoulders an pelvis change from ape like to human like.

I am aware of the history. The question is whether 1) mental changes, language, spear-making and spear-throwing etc. resulted from physical changes, or 2) mental changes resulted in physical changes that allowed for the implementation of concepts such as language, spear-making etc.. You seem to be opting for the former, which means the brain is the source of our capacity to think. I don’t know how you reconcile this with your belief that the capacity to think will survive the death of the brain.

DAVID: But where you are totally confused is in the recognition that habilis does not know what it does not know. Its demonstrated concepts in its artifacts show what it was capable of producing. This is true at each stage of brain case enlargement.

No confusion. The question is whether a) habilis’s artefacts were produced as a result of its own particular increase in brain capacity, or b) its conceptualization of its artefacts resulted in its increased brain capacity. This question applies to each stage of brain case enlargement. You are opting for the former, which means the brain is the source of our capacity to think. I don’t know how you reconcile this with your belief that the capacity to think will survive the death of the brain. (I may have said this before!)

The rest of your post ranges over a wide field of subjects we have already discussed on other threads.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Sunday, June 25, 2017, 19:03 (148 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Neither: based on NDE's the brain receives an independent consciousness mechanism which is immaterial and from infancy learns to use and shape it from a blank slate to an operative mechanism.

dhw: Here you have the brain learning to use and shape consciousness, although the brain is only a receiver.

It shapes the areas and facility of use and the content of experiences and memory. Seamless.


DAVID: The computer analogy is not entirely accurate, but as I learn to operate my brain and its consciousness, the brain has the physical ability to modify itself to fit my actions both physically and mentally.

dhw: There is no disagreement over the plasticity of the brain. ... This ought to mean that the entity of you/your consciousness learns to operate the brain, as opposed to the brain using and shaping you/your consciousness. We can unravel this tangled web if you give a straightforward answer to a straightforward question: do you believe that the brain is the source of our capacity to think?

My brain uses my consciousness to think. I view it as a seamless mechanism of my brain, in a way a computer, using the software of consciousness which I control as I am part of my brain physically and also mentally.>


dhw I am aware of the history. The question is whether 1) mental changes, language, spear-making and spear-throwing etc. resulted from physical changes, or 2) mental changes resulted in physical changes that allowed for the implementation of concepts such as language, spear-making etc.. You seem to be opting for the former, which means the brain is the source of our capacity to think. I don’t know how you reconcile this with your belief that the capacity to think will survive the death of the brain.

You are confusing the issue. The early hominins had a degree of consciousness. They could think, but not to the degree we can with our more complex larger frontal lobes. With each enlargement they could conceive of more options for survival. Why are you mixing language and spears? Erectus had spears, but a high larynx with slight chance of much speech. Neanderthal and sapiens had fully dropped larynxes for full speech. There are combinations of physical and mental developments that proceed together with each new appearance of a Homo.


DAVID: But where you are totally confused is in the recognition that habilis does not know what it does not know. Its demonstrated concepts in its artifacts show what it was capable of producing. This is true at each stage of brain case enlargement.

dhw: No confusion. The question is whether a) habilis’s artefacts were produced as a result of its own particular increase in brain capacity, or b) its conceptualization of its artefacts resulted in its increased brain capacity. This question applies to each stage of brain case enlargement. You are opting for the former, which means the brain is the source of our capacity to think.

Consciousness appears as the brain enlarges. The brain receives consciousness to think, as before.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Monday, June 26, 2017, 13:29 (148 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Neither: based on NDE's the brain receives an independent consciousness mechanism which is immaterial and from infancy learns to use and shape it from a blank slate to an operative mechanism.
dhw: Here you have the brain learning to use and shape consciousness, although the brain is only a receiver.
DAVID: It shapes the areas and facility of use and the content of experiences and memory. Seamless.

We have agreed that “use” means the implementation of ideas, and it is clear that the brain is needed for this purpose. But I don’t know how the RECEIVER brain can be said to “shape” the ideas or the consciousness that provides the ideas, or the “content of experiences and memory”, if these exist independently of the brain, as you believe to be the case in a conscious afterlife.

dhw: …do you believe that the brain is the source of our capacity to think?
DAVID: My brain uses my consciousness to think. I view it as a seamless mechanism of my brain, in a way a computer, using the software of consciousness which I control as I am part of my brain physically and also mentally.

Another convoluted answer to a simple question. Let me try again (though I am not taking sides on this myself). You believe in an afterlife without brain or body, in which the conscious self continues to exist with its capacity to think. Yes or no? If the answer is yes, this means that the capacity to think must be independent of the brain. Yes or no?

DAVID: You are confusing the issue. The early hominins had a degree of consciousness. They could think, but not to the degree we can with our more complex larger frontal lobes.

No confusion. The question is whether our more complex larger frontal lobes are the source or the consequence of our increased degree of thought (the increase being necessary to cope with the demands of new concepts).

DAVID: With each enlargement they could conceive of more options for survival. Why are you mixing language and spears? Erectus had spears, but a high larynx with slight chance of much speech. Neanderthal and sapiens had fully dropped larynxes for full speech. There are combinations of physical and mental developments that proceed together with each new appearance of a Homo.

I am not mixing them. I am repeating the examples of new concepts that you used in your post. Each one required changes to the brain and the rest of the anatomy. You say the changes to brain and anatomy PRECEDED the manufacture of spears and the use of language, whereas if the capacity for thought (consciousness) is independent of the brain, as is indicated by the NDEs you believe in, it would be thought that engendered the changes to brain and anatomy, just as the illiterate women’s attempt to read engendered changes to their brain.

DAVID: Consciousness appears as the brain enlarges. The brain receives consciousness to think, as before.

I think you mean increased consciousness appears as the brain enlarges. But which comes first? I am not taking sides, but with your belief that your brainless conscious self will live on after death, and your belief that increased consciousness is impossible without brain enlargement, you are trying to take both sides.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Monday, June 26, 2017, 14:10 (148 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: Here you have the brain learning to use and shape consciousness, although the brain is only a receiver.
DAVID: It shapes the areas and facility of use and the content of experiences and memory. Seamless.

dhw:We have agreed that “use” means the implementation of ideas, and it is clear that the brain is needed for this purpose. But I don’t know how the RECEIVER brain can be said to “shape” the ideas or the consciousness that provides the ideas, or the “content of experiences and memory”, if these exist independently of the brain, as you believe to be the case in a conscious afterlife.

The living brain/me/consciousness is seamless in life, but after death is a total different issue. Only me/consciousness exists in that circumstance. Why do you try to assume life and death are the same circumstance for the brain? In life material brain, immaterial me/consciousness; in death immaterial me/consciousness.


DAVID: My brain uses my consciousness to think. I view it as a seamless mechanism of my brain, in a way a computer, using the software of consciousness which I control as I am part of my brain physically and also mentally.

dhw: Another convoluted answer to a simple question. Let me try again (though I am not taking sides on this myself). You believe in an afterlife without brain or body, in which the conscious self continues to exist with its capacity to think. Yes or no?

Yes

dhw: If the answer is yes, this means that the capacity to think must be independent of the brain. Yes or no?

No. Same conflation. Life and death are different circumstances. See above.


DAVID: You are confusing the issue. The early hominins had a degree of consciousness. They could think, but not to the degree we can with our more complex larger frontal lobes.

dhw: No confusion. The question is whether our more complex larger frontal lobes are the source or the consequence of our increased degree of thought (the increase being necessary to cope with the demands of new concepts).

Bigger more complex pre-frontal and frontal lobes bring much more capacity for thoughts and concepts. Size first, mental use and concepts second.


DAVID: With each enlargement they could conceive of more options for survival. Why are you mixing language and spears? Erectus had spears, but a high larynx with slight chance of much speech. Neanderthal and sapiens had fully dropped larynxes for full speech. There are combinations of physical and mental developments that proceed together with each new appearance of a Homo.

dhw: I am not mixing them. I am repeating the examples of new concepts that you used in your post. Each one required changes to the brain and the rest of the anatomy. You say the changes to brain and anatomy PRECEDED the manufacture of spears and the use of language, whereas if the capacity for thought (consciousness) is independent of the brain, as is indicated by the NDEs you believe in, it would be thought that engendered the changes to brain and anatomy, just as the illiterate women’s attempt to read engendered changes to their brain.

An other mixed conflation. The women already had a large complex brain. The plasticity of the brain allowed them to modify it with learning to read. With enough new uses by humans the brain shrinks, not grows!


DAVID: Consciousness appears as the brain enlarges. The brain receives consciousness to think, as before.

dhw: I think you mean increased consciousness appears as the brain enlarge

Yes.

dhw: But which comes first? I am not taking sides, but with your belief that your brainless conscious self will live on after death, and your belief that increased consciousness is impossible without brain enlargement, you are trying to take both sides.

No, life and death are different, as above.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Tuesday, June 27, 2017, 15:01 (146 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw:We have agreed that “use” means the implementation of ideas, and it is clear that the brain is needed for this purpose. But I don’t know how the RECEIVER brain can be said to “shape” the ideas or the consciousness that provides the ideas, or the “content of experiences and memory”, if these exist independently of the brain, as you believe to be the case in a conscious afterlife.
DAVID: The living brain/me/consciousness is seamless in life, but after death is a total different issue. Only me/consciousness exists in that circumstance. Why do you try to assume life and death are the same circumstance for the brain? In life material brain, immaterial me/consciousness; in death immaterial me/consciousness.

Of course life and death are not the same circumstance for the brain! The brain is no longer there after death! But you believe that the immaterial you will continue to exist after the death of the brain, with the same capacity to think, the same memories, the same ideas. This is why it is a total contradiction for you to argue that in life the immaterial "you" cannot think or conceptualize without the brain, which you yourself keep telling us is only a RECEIVER. This can only mean that in life the brain does not do the thinking etc. but receives the thoughts and enables our immaterial self to express and implement them in the material world. It is no longer required when we move into an immaterial world. (I am simply repeating YOUR beliefs here. I remain neutral.) The rest of your post deals with the same subject, except for the following:

dhw: You say the changes to brain and anatomy PRECEDED the manufacture of spears and the use of language, whereas if the capacity for thought (consciousness) is independent of the brain, as is indicated by the NDEs you believe in, it would be thought that engendered the changes to brain and anatomy, just as the illiterate women’s attempt to read engendered changes to their brain.
DAVID: An other mixed conflation. The women already had a large complex brain. The plasticity of the brain allowed them to modify it with learning to read. With enough new uses by humans the brain shrinks, not grows!

Yes, they already had a large brain. I am suggesting that at some time in the past the brain reached a size beyond which it could not grow without serious consequences for the rest of the anatomy, and so later modifications took place through rewiring and densifying, as with the illiterate women. Shrinkage, I suggest, is the result of efficient densification.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Tuesday, June 27, 2017, 20:15 (146 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: The living brain/me/consciousness is seamless in life, but after death is a total different issue. Only me/consciousness exists in that circumstance. Why do you try to assume life and death are the same circumstance for the brain? In life material brain, immaterial me/consciousness; in death immaterial me/consciousness.

dhw: Of course life and death are not the same circumstance for the brain! The brain is no longer there after death! But you believe that the immaterial you will continue to exist after the death of the brain, with the same capacity to think, the same memories, the same ideas. This is why it is a total contradiction for you to argue that in life the immaterial "you" cannot think or conceptualize without the brain, which you yourself keep telling us is only a RECEIVER.

Your concept of brain as a receiver is that it is a passive receiver. I've never said nor implied that. Yes the brain receives the consciousness which it ACTIVELY uses under my direction to create all the attributes of my personality. All of what is created is immaterial, and leaves my body in death to join the afterlife all of which is immaterial. Events in the afterlife have been described, mainly as receiving information. Whether 'souls' discuss ideas, have conversations, etc. is unknown to me.

DAVID: An other mixed conflation. The women already had a large complex brain. The plasticity of the brain allowed them to modify it with learning to read. With enough new uses by humans the brain shrinks, not grows!

dhw: Yes, they already had a large brain. I am suggesting that at some time in the past the brain reached a size beyond which it could not grow without serious consequences for the rest of the anatomy, and so later modifications took place through rewiring and densifying, as with the illiterate women. Shrinkage, I suggest, is the result of efficient densification.

Your statement is true but avoids my comment about your internal drive theory that the wish for more concepts grows the brain. Habilis did not know what it did not know. These woman could learn to read because the brain they were given had a built in capacity to learn to read. All they had to do was use it. You cannot deny that. I'm sure habilis could not read.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by dhw, Wednesday, June 28, 2017, 13:24 (146 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: […] you believe that the immaterial you will continue to exist after the death of the brain, with the same capacity to think, the same memories, the same ideas. This is why it is a total contradiction for you to argue that in life the immaterial "you" cannot think or conceptualize without the brain, which you yourself keep telling us is only a RECEIVER.
DAVID: Your concept of brain as a receiver is that it is a passive receiver. I've never said nor implied that.

The brain as a receiver of consciousness (as opposed to a transmitter) is YOUR concept. I remain neutral. And a receiver by definition is passive.

DAVID: Yes the brain receives the consciousness which it ACTIVELY uses under my direction to create all the attributes of my personality. All of what is created is immaterial, and leaves my body in death to join the afterlife all of which is immaterial. Events in the afterlife have been described, mainly as receiving information. Whether 'souls' discuss ideas, have conversations, etc. is unknown to me.

How can the receiver brain use YOUR consciousness directed by YOU to create the personality which is YOU? You now have YOU directing the brain to make YOU! Over and over again, you have agreed that you and your consciousness are an inseparable entity. It is that entity which uses the brain. As for NDEs, you know very well that patients report conversations, which you say are conducted by telepathy. On Monday you confirmed your belief that in the afterlife the conscious self continues to exist with its capacity to think. Do you really believe that the ever probing Turell mind will stop thinking for itself and yet you will still be you?

dhw: I am suggesting that at some time in the past the brain reached a size beyond which it could not grow without serious consequences for the rest of the anatomy, and so later modifications took place through rewiring and densifying, as with the illiterate women. Shrinkage, I suggest, is the result of efficient densification.
DAVID: Your statement is true but avoids my comment about your internal drive theory that the wish for more concepts grows the brain.

That is NOT my theory, and in any case my theory is based on your beliefs, not mine. Once more : 1) the mind comes up with a new concept and wishes to IMPLEMENT it; 2) the IMPLEMENTATION requires changes to the brain; 3) the changes to the brain enable the concept to be implemented.

DAVID: Habilis did not know what it did not know.

Obviously. But habilis came up with a new idea (a spear), and then its brain had to expand in order to implement the idea.

DAVID: These woman could learn to read because the brain they were given had a built in capacity to learn to read. All they had to do was use it. You cannot deny that. I'm sure habilis could not read.

In order for the women to be able to read, their brain had to undergo some rewiring. The concept of reading (new to them) came first, and the effort to read caused the rewiring. Habilis never came up with the concept of reading or of motor cars or of airplanes, but his conscious mind (if you believe in dualism) did come up with the concept of spear-making and spear-throwing, and the effort to implement the concept caused the growth of the brain.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Wednesday, June 28, 2017, 17:28 (145 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Your concept of brain as a receiver is that it is a passive receiver. I've never said nor implied that.

dhw: The brain as a receiver of consciousness (as opposed to a transmitter) is YOUR concept. I remain neutral. And a receiver by definition is passive.

Your narrow point that the brain may receive consciousness passively, but fails to note the brain is active as I use it.


DAVID: Yes the brain receives the consciousness which it ACTIVELY uses under my direction to create all the attributes of my personality. All of what is created is immaterial, and leaves my body in death to join the afterlife all of which is immaterial. Events in the afterlife have been described, mainly as receiving information. Whether 'souls' discuss ideas, have conversations, etc. is unknown to me.

dhw: How can the receiver brain use YOUR consciousness directed by YOU to create the personality which is YOU? You now have YOU directing the brain to make YOU! Over and over again, you have agreed that you and your consciousness are an inseparable entity. It is that entity which uses the brain. As for NDEs, you know very well that patients report conversations, which you say are conducted by telepathy. On Monday you confirmed your belief that in the afterlife the conscious self continues to exist with its capacity to think. Do you really believe that the ever probing Turell mind will stop thinking for itself and yet you will still be you?

The newborn receives a blank slate consciousness so I create me as I develop. Cautious thinking in the adolescent is not fully present until the frontal loves are fully developed in their 20's. As the brain develops it allows fuller thought capacity. You do not allow for all these obvious interactions. Full consciousness is not present until the brain is fully developed. In afterlife I'm not sure I will develop anything but will be in contact with other souls.>


DAVID: Habilis did not know what it did not know.

dhw: Obviously. But habilis came up with a new idea (a spear), and then its brain had to expand in order to implement the idea.

Hand stone tools, not spears for habilis. Hand stone tools simply rewired the habilis brain as in Indian women reading with our brain. You are totally inconsistent.


DAVID: These woman could learn to read because the brain they were given had a built in capacity to learn to read. All they had to do was use it. You cannot deny that. I'm sure habilis could not read.

dhw: In order for the women to be able to read, their brain had to undergo some rewiring. The concept of reading (new to them) came first, and the effort to read caused the rewiring. Habilis never came up with the concept of reading or of motor cars or of airplanes, but his conscious mind (if you believe in dualism) did come up with the concept of spear-making and spear-throwing, and the effort to implement the concept caused the growth of the brain.

Same rewiring inconsistency. Use at any level of brain size causes brain to rewire. Proven concept.

Evolution and humans: big brain or concept first?

by dhw, Thursday, June 29, 2017, 13:41 (145 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: (under “big brain size or use") Habilis did not know what it did not know.

dhw: Obviously. But habilis came up with a new idea (a spear), and then its brain had to expand in order to implement the idea.

DAVID: Hand stone tools, not spears for habilis. Hand stone tools simply rewired the habilis brain as in Indian women reading with our brain. You are totally inconsistent.

My mistake. Thank you. Habilis came up with a new idea (stone tools, not spears). How the heck do you know that these simply rewired the brain? How many of our fellow animals invent and manufacture tools, no matter how primitive? This was a huge mental step forward in evolution, and it required a physical leap in order to manufacture and use the tools. You say God enlarged their brain first, and then they thought of making tools. Please explain how you know that the effort to implement the new concept of tool-making was not the cause of their brain enlargement, or that the effort to swim was not the cause of legs changing to flippers, or that the effort to walk on land was not the cause of fins changing to legs.

The effort to read caused rewiring because the brain had already long since reached its optimum size. There has to be a limit to brain growth. Before it reached its optimum size, the brain expanded in response to the effort to implement new concepts.

Evolution and humans: big brain or concept first?

by David Turell @, Thursday, June 29, 2017, 18:30 (144 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Hand stone tools, not spears for habilis. Hand stone tools simply rewired the habilis brain as in Indian women reading with our brain. You are totally inconsistent.

dhw: My mistake. Thank you. Habilis came up with a new idea (stone tools, not spears). How the heck do you know that these simply rewired the brain? How many of our fellow animals invent and manufacture tools, no matter how primitive? This was a huge mental step forward in evolution, and it required a physical leap in order to manufacture and use the tools.

Simple answer. We know the brain has plasticity. The first advanced hominin brains undoubtedly had that property. What is plasticity but rewiring as in the illiterate women. No enlargement from plasticity. The brain can accommodate new ideas without enlarging. Happens to all H. sapiens whose brains have shrunk. Obvious concept.

dhw:You say God enlarged their brain first, and then they thought of making tools. Please explain how you know that the effort to implement the new concept of tool-making was not the cause of their brain enlargement, or that the effort to swim was not the cause of legs changing to flippers, or that the effort to walk on land was not the cause of fins changing to legs.

Habilis did not know what it did not know. When it did something new its brain rewired as happens now. Now you are proposing that effort causes speciation?


dhw: The effort to read caused rewiring because the brain had already long since reached its optimum size. There has to be a limit to brain growth. Before it reached its optimum size, the brain expanded in response to the effort to implement new concepts.

If our brain is 'optimum' humans are the end point of evolution. Thanks.

Evolution and humans: big brain or concept first?

by dhw, Friday, June 30, 2017, 13:18 (144 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Hand stone tools, not spears for habilis. Hand stone tools simply rewired the habilis brain as in Indian women reading with our brain. You are totally inconsistent.
dhw: My mistake. Thank you. Habilis came up with a new idea (stone tools, not spears). How the heck do you know that these simply rewired the brain? How many of our fellow animals invent and manufacture tools, no matter how primitive? This was a huge mental step forward in evolution, and it required a physical leap in order to manufacture and use the tools.
DAVID: Simple answer. We know the brain has plasticity. The first advanced hominin brains undoubtedly had that property. What is plasticity but rewiring as in the illiterate women. No enlargement from plasticity. The brain can accommodate new ideas without enlarging. Happens to all H. sapiens whose brains have shrunk. Obvious concept.

So why do you think your God kept on enlarging the human brain if rewiring is all that is required to produce and implement new ideas?

dhw:You say God enlarged their brain first, and then they thought of making tools. Please explain how you know that the effort to implement the new concept of tool-making was not the cause of their brain enlargement, or that the effort to swim was not the cause of legs changing to flippers, or that the effort to walk on land was not the cause of fins changing to legs.
DAVID: Habilis did not know what it did not know. When it did something new its brain rewired as happens now. Now you are proposing that effort causes speciation?

So once again, why did your God enlarge the brain? And where did the concept of new tools come from? The mind or the brain?
Yes, I am proposing that the effort to implement new concepts and new ways of life causes organisms to change themselves. Instead of God transforming a leg into a flipper and then plonking the pre-whale in the water, I am proposing that the pre-whale for whatever reason decided to enter the water, and the effort of adapting itself to life in the water resulted in the anatomical changes we know took place. (I have a strange feeling that this may not be an original idea.;-) )

dhw: The effort to read caused rewiring because the brain had already long since reached its optimum size. There has to be a limit to brain growth. Before it reached its optimum size, the brain expanded in response to the effort to implement new concepts.
DAVID: If our brain is 'optimum' humans are the end point of evolution. Thanks.

A total non sequitur. The suggestion that the human head could not expand any more without causing problems for the rest of the human anatomy does not mean that evolution is over.

Evolution and humans: big brain or concept first?

by David Turell @, Friday, June 30, 2017, 19:45 (143 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Simple answer. We know the brain has plasticity. The first advanced hominin brains undoubtedly had that property. What is plasticity but rewiring as in the illiterate women. No enlargement from plasticity. The brain can accommodate new ideas without enlarging. Happens to all H. sapiens whose brains have shrunk. Obvious concept.

dhw: So why do you think your God kept on enlarging the human brain if rewiring is all that is required to produce and implement new ideas?

Rewiring is what happens at each size change, but size of the frontal lobes is what allows for the advanced ideation of each new species on the way to humans. The capacity of each new hominin is shown by the artifacts found from their time of existence.

DAVID: Habilis did not know what it did not know. When it did something new its brain rewired as happens now. Now you are proposing that effort causes speciation?

So once again, why did your God enlarge the brain? And where did the concept of new tools come from? The mind or the brain?

Both working together as a consciousness/ brain seamless mechanism.

dhw: Yes, I am proposing that the effort to implement new concepts and new ways of life causes organisms to change themselves. Instead of God transforming a leg into a flipper and then plonking the pre-whale in the water, I am proposing that the pre-whale for whatever reason decided to enter the water, and the effort of adapting itself to life in the water resulted in the anatomical changes we know took place. (I have a strange feeling that this may not be an original idea.;-) )

Again, your concept skips the idea that a planning mind must imagine the future phenotypic changes and form that are required and plan for them in advance. DNA must be mutated appropriately in a coordinated pattern to achieve those changes. Takes a brain/mind to do it, nothing less.


dhw: The effort to read caused rewiring because the brain had already long since reached its optimum size. There has to be a limit to brain growth. Before it reached its optimum size, the brain expanded in response to the effort to implement new concepts.
DAVID: If our brain is 'optimum' humans are the end point of evolution. Thanks.

dhw: A total non sequitur. The suggestion that the human head could not expand any more without causing problems for the rest of the human anatomy does not mean that evolution is over.

I didn't imply any of your suggestion. You have a great imagination. I suggest there is no need for enlargement because the brain is as complex as it needs to be for all future concepts.

Evolution and humans: big brain or concept first?

by dhw, Saturday, July 01, 2017, 12:00 (143 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: We know the brain has plasticity. The first advanced hominin brains undoubtedly had that property. What is plasticity but rewiring as in the illiterate women. No enlargement from plasticity. The brain can accommodate new ideas without enlarging. Happens to all H. sapiens whose brains have shrunk. Obvious concept.
dhw: So why do you think your God kept on enlarging the human brain if rewiring is all that is required to produce and implement new ideas?
DAVID: Rewiring is what happens at each size change, but size of the frontal lobes is what allows for the advanced ideation of each new species on the way to humans. The capacity of each new hominin is shown by the artifacts found from their time of existence.

This is getting more and more confusing. “The brain can accommodate new ideas without enlarging” – i.e. by rewiring – now apparently means rewiring happens when the brain enlarges. I thought rewiring happened when there were new ideas. You keep saying the brain “allows for” new ideas, but this still doesn’t tell us where the new ideas come from. Once more, as under “dualism versus materialism”, please tell us (a) whether you think new ideas come from the brain or from the soul, and (b) why you think your God bothered to enlarge the brain if it could accommodate new ideas without enlarging. But yes, the artefacts tell us what ideas each hominin was capable of conceiving (= thought) and then implementing (= the material realization of the thought).

dhw: Yes, I am proposing that the effort to implement new concepts and new ways of life causes organisms to change themselves. Instead of God transforming a leg into a flipper and then plonking the pre-whale in the water, I am proposing that the pre-whale for whatever reason decided to enter the water, and the effort of adapting itself to life in the water resulted in the anatomical changes we know took place. (I have a strange feeling that this may not be an original idea. )

DAVID: Again, your concept skips the idea that a planning mind must imagine the future phenotypic changes and form that are required and plan for them in advance. DNA must be mutated appropriately in a coordinated pattern to achieve those changes. Takes a brain/mind to do it, nothing less.

Dealt with yet again under “gaps are very real”, but yes indeed the cell communities that make up every organism must coordinate, and this requires intelligence. Only apparently you do not believe your God is capable of endowing cell communities with the intelligence to do it themselves.

dhw: The effort to read caused rewiring because the brain had already long since reached its optimum size. There has to be a limit to brain growth. Before it reached its optimum size, the brain expanded in response to the effort to implement new concepts.
DAVID: If our brain is 'optimum' humans are the end point of evolution. Thanks.
dhw: A total non sequitur. The suggestion that the human head could not expand any more without causing problems for the rest of the human anatomy does not mean that evolution is over.
DAVID: I didn't imply any of your suggestion. You have a great imagination. I suggest there is no need for enlargement because the brain is as complex as it needs to be for all future concepts.

I thought it was densification that led to complexity, and future concepts would lead to further densification, i.e. further complexity. As for my imagination, I didn’t realize that “humans are the end point of evolution” meant their brains didn’t need to expand any more. I thought it meant humans were the end point of evolution. “"We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language." (Oscar Wilde)

Evolution and humans: big brain or concept first?

by David Turell @, Saturday, July 01, 2017, 18:10 (142 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Rewiring is what happens at each size change, but size of the frontal lobes is what allows for the advanced ideation of each new species on the way to humans. The capacity of each new hominin is shown by the artifacts found from their time of existence.

dhw: This is getting more and more confusing. “The brain can accommodate new ideas without enlarging” – i.e. by rewiring – now apparently means rewiring happens when the brain enlarges. I thought rewiring happened when there were new ideas.

I have no idea why you are so confused. Let's use the knowledge we have about our brain and apply it to habilis. His little brain allows new concepts: hammering flint to make sharp hand axes. His brain plasticity allows him to learn how to hammer (apes can't). That is a result of a form of re-wiring: his brain does not enlarge, because it has the plasticity to adapt to his new desired activity. But we find that he doesn't conceive of putting the flint on a stick to throw as a spear. With erectus' bigger brain that concept appears.

dhw: You keep saying the brain “allows for” new ideas, but this still doesn’t tell us where the new ideas come from. Once more, as under “dualism versus materialism”, please tell us (a) whether you think new ideas come from the brain or from the soul, and (b) why you think your God bothered to enlarge the brain if it could accommodate new ideas without enlarging. But yes, the artefacts tell us what ideas each hominin was capable of conceiving (= thought) and then implementing (= the material realization of the thought).

You haven't accepted my idea that brain/ me/ consciousness are all fused together in life. As before, a larger brain obviously allowed for more advanced conceptualization, better use of the received consciousness.

DAVID: Again, your concept skips the idea that a planning mind must imagine the future phenotypic changes and form that are required and plan for them in advance. DNA must be mutated appropriately in a coordinated pattern to achieve those changes. Takes a brain/mind to do it, nothing less.

dhw: Dealt with yet again under “gaps are very real”, but yes indeed the cell communities that make up every organism must coordinate, and this requires intelligence. Only apparently you do not believe your God is capable of endowing cell communities with the intelligence to do it themselves.

I don't, and you know that.


DAVID: I didn't imply any of your suggestion. You have a great imagination. I suggest there is no need for enlargement because the brain is as complex as it needs to be for all future concepts.

dhw: I thought it was densification that led to complexity, and future concepts would lead to further densification, i.e. further complexity. As for my imagination, I didn’t realize that “humans are the end point of evolution” meant their brains didn’t need to expand any more. I thought it meant humans were the end point of evolution. “"We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language." (Oscar Wilde)

Complex thought led to densification, as previously shown. We are the end of evolution, and our brain will not grow any more. It doesn't need to. Einstein had a thickened area related to conceptualization, but his hat size was normal.

Evolution and humans: big brain or concept first?

by David Turell @, Saturday, July 01, 2017, 19:22 (142 days ago) @ David Turell

Addendum:

I view plasticity as present in all brains throughout evolution. see my bumblebee entry of today. It is another way of saying 'rewiring'. Densification is just an extreme form of plasticity/rewiring, as the result of extreme conceptualization by humans who are using their material/immaterial brain/consciousness complex.

Evolution and humans: big brain or concept first?

by dhw, Sunday, July 02, 2017, 13:59 (142 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Rewiring is what happens at each size change, but size of the frontal lobes is what allows for the advanced ideation of each new species on the way to humans. The capacity of each new hominin is shown by the artifacts found from their time of existence.
dhw: This is getting more and more confusing. “The brain can accommodate new ideas without enlarging” – i.e. by rewiring – now apparently means rewiring happens when the brain enlarges. I thought rewiring happened when there were new ideas.
DAVID: I have no idea why you are so confused. Let's use the knowledge we have about our brain and apply it to habilis. His little brain allows new concepts: hammering flint to make sharp hand axes. His brain plasticity allows him to learn how to hammer (apes can't). That is a result of a form of re-wiring: his brain does not enlarge, because it has the plasticity to adapt to his new desired activity. But we find that he doesn't conceive of putting the flint on a stick to throw as a spear. With erectus' bigger brain that concept appears.

You continue to use the word “allow” without telling us where the new concepts come from. (See under “dualism versus materialism”.) You now have habilis’s little brain “allowing” NEW concepts, but erectus has to have a bigger brain to “allow” NEW concepts – and you think I’m confused. If habilis could have NEW concepts through rewiring, why couldn’t erectus? “Appears” is another of your wishy-washy words. In any case, it’s not the concept that “appears” but the material manifestation of the concept – a distinction you keep avoiding because you refuse to say whether the concept originates in the immaterial mind or the material brain.

DAVID: You haven’t accepted my idea that brain/me/consciousness are all fused together in life. As before, a large brain obviously allowed for more advanced conceptualization, better use of the received consciousness.

“Fused together” is a cop-out, unless you believe that the brain is the source of consciousness, with all our thoughts, ideas etc. (which may be so - I remain neutral). The crucial evidence you have for your dualistic belief in an afterlife is NDEs, in which the “soul” is separate from the body. This can only mean that the material brain is NOT the source of your thoughts, since the "soul" returns to the patient and reports its experience to the brain, which gets the body to pass on the information. Under “Dualism versus materialism” I have tried to define the dualistic interaction (not “fusion”) between soul and material brain, and I hope you will give me a straight answer.

dhw: […] yes indeed the cell communities that make up every organism must coordinate, and this requires intelligence. Only apparently you do not believe your God is capable of endowing cell communities with the intelligence to do it themselves.
DAVID: I don't, and you know that.

You don’t what? Believe your God is capable of endowing cells with intelligence? Back to his limited powers?

DAVID: I didn't imply any of your suggestion. You have a great imagination. I suggest there is no need for enlargement because the brain is as complex as it needs to be for all future concepts.
dhw: I didn’t realize that “humans are the end point of evolution” meant their brains didn’t need to expand any more. I thought it meant humans were the end point of evolution. “"We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language." (Oscar Wilde)
DAVID: Complex thought led to densification, as previously shown. We are the end of evolution, and our brain will not grow any more. It doesn't need to. Einstein had a thickened area related to conceptualization, but his hat size was normal.

It doesn’t need to grow, or maybe it can’t, but that hardly proves humans are the end point of evolution.

Evolution and humans: dumb big elephant brain

by David Turell @, Sunday, July 02, 2017, 20:10 (141 days ago) @ dhw

Not so smart but much larger than ours. it depends where the neurons are placed:

http://mitp.nautil.us/feature/227/the-paradox-of-the-elephant-brain?utm_source=Nautilus...

"Lo and behold, the African elephant brain had more neurons than the human brain. And not just a few more: a full three times the number of neurons, 257 billion to our 86 billion neurons. But—and this was a huge, immense “but”—a whopping 98 percent of those neurons were located in the cerebellum, at the back of the brain. In every other mammal we had examined so far, the cerebellum concentrated most of the brain neurons, but never much more than 80 percent of them. The exceptional distribution of neurons within the elephant brain left a relatively meager 5.6 billion neurons in the whole cerebral cortex itself. Despite the size of the African elephant cerebral cortex, the 5.6 billion neurons in it paled in comparison to the average 16 billion neurons concentrated in the much smaller human cerebral cortex.

"So here was our answer. No, the human brain does not have more neurons than the much larger elephant brain—but the human cerebral cortex has nearly three times as many neurons as the over twice as large cerebral cortex of the elephant. Unless we were ready to concede that the elephant, with three times more neurons in its cerebellum (and, therefore, in its brain), must be more cognitively capable than we humans, we could rule out the hypothesis that total number of neurons in the cerebellum was in any way limiting or sufficient to determine the cognitive capabilities of a brain.

"Only the cerebral cortex remained, then. Nature had done the experiment that we needed, dissociating numbers of neurons in the cerebral cortex from the number of neurons in the cerebellum. The superior cognitive capabilities of the human brain over the elephant brain can simply—and only—be attributed to the remarkably large number of neurons in its cerebral cortex.

***

"As it turns out, there is a simple explanation for how the human brain, and it alone, can be at the same time similar to others in its evolutionary constraints, and yet so different to the point of endowing us with the ability to ponder our own material and metaphysical origins. First, we are primates, and this bestows upon humans the advantage of a large number of neurons packed into a small cerebral cortex. And second, thanks to a technological innovation introduced by our ancestors, we escaped the energetic constraint that limits all other animals to the smaller number of cortical neurons that can be afforded by a raw diet in the wild.

"So what do we have that no other animal has? A remarkable number of neurons in the cerebral cortex, the largest around, attainable by no other species, I say. And what do we do that absolutely no other animal does, and which I believe allowed us to amass that remarkable number of neurons in the first place? We cook our food. The rest—all the technological innovations made possible by that outstanding number of neurons in our cerebral cortex, and the ensuing cultural transmission of those innovations that has kept the spiral that turns capacities into abilities moving upward—is history."

Comment: Written like a true atheist. The bigger brain allowed us to learn how to use fire to nourish the bigger brain. The bigger brain appeared before we could use fire. She doesn't answer the issue of how the brain began to grow, on its own, or with God's direction? The cerebellum is important for coordination of physical activity, not the higher mental powers of the pre-frontal area.

Evolution and humans: dumb big elephant brain

by dhw, Monday, July 03, 2017, 13:02 (141 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID’s comment: Written like a true atheist. The bigger brain allowed us to learn how to use fire to nourish the bigger brain. The bigger brain appeared before we could use fire. She doesn't answer the issue of how the brain began to grow, on its own, or with God's direction? The cerebellum is important for coordination of physical activity, not the higher mental powers of the pre-frontal area.

Written like a true theist. According to the author, it was cooked food that enabled our brain to grow (well, that’s one theory), which means the new idea of how to use fire preceded the bigger brain. But there is actually no way anyone can prove which came first. However, yet again you are using the wishy-washy word “allowed”. If you think our ancestor’s big brain thought of using fire, you should say so. If you think it was our ancestor’s soul that thought of using fire, you should say so. See “dualism versus materialism”.

Evolution and humans: dumb big elephant brain

by David Turell @, Monday, July 03, 2017, 15:48 (140 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID’s comment: Written like a true atheist. The bigger brain allowed us to learn how to use fire to nourish the bigger brain. The bigger brain appeared before we could use fire. She doesn't answer the issue of how the brain began to grow, on its own, or with God's direction? The cerebellum is important for coordination of physical activity, not the higher mental powers of the pre-frontal area.

dhw: Written like a true theist. According to the author, it was cooked food that enabled our brain to grow (well, that’s one theory), which means the new idea of how to use fire preceded the bigger brain. But there is actually no way anyone can prove which came first. However, yet again you are using the wishy-washy word “allowed”. If you think our ancestor’s big brain thought of using fire, you should say so. If you think it was our ancestor’s soul that thought of using fire, you should say so. See “dualism versus materialism”.

Allowed means 'given the facility' to have the thought. The thought of use of fire was not demanded by the larger brain, but provided the substrate for the ancestor to eventually realize that the thought of using fire could appear. The material ancestor did his own thinking while he shaped the contents of his soul.

Evolution and humans: big brain or concept first?

by David Turell @, Sunday, July 02, 2017, 21:07 (141 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: You continue to use the word “allow” without telling us where the new concepts come from. (See under “dualism versus materialism”.) You now have habilis’s little brain “allowing” NEW concepts, but erectus has to have a bigger brain to “allow” NEW concepts – and you think I’m confused. If habilis could have NEW concepts through rewiring, why couldn’t erectus?

When habilis appears he has a bigger frontal area with more neurons. This allows him the ability to do a little more deep thinking. He becomes more conscious of possibilities. As he develops those ideas his brain can do a little plasticity rewiring to accommodate the new activities. Same for erectus at the next level of prefrontal size. He has the ability to conceptualize more. Again habilis brain/consciousness is seamless.

dhw;“Appears” is another of your wishy-washy words. In any case, it’s not the concept that “appears” but the material manifestation of the concept – a distinction you keep avoiding because you refuse to say whether the concept originates in the immaterial mind or the material brain.

I keep saying it is seamless. The material brain uses the immaterial mind/consciousness under the direction of the proto human.


dhw: “Fused together” is a cop-out, unless you believe that the brain is the source of consciousness, with all our thoughts, ideas etc. (which may be so - I remain neutral). The crucial evidence you have for your dualistic belief in an afterlife is NDEs, in which the “soul” is separate from the body. This can only mean that the material brain is NOT the source of your thoughts, since the "soul" returns to the patient and reports its experience to the brain, which gets the body to pass on the information. Under “Dualism versus materialism” I have tried to define the dualistic interaction (not “fusion”) between soul and material brain, and I hope you will give me a straight answer.

I view myself while alive as using my brain to create concepts with the mechanism of my immaterial consciousness. I view myself as material while alive, using my immaterial consciousness. That is my view of dualism.


dhw: […] yes indeed the cell communities that make up every organism must coordinate, and this requires intelligence. Only apparently you do not believe your God is capable of endowing cell communities with the intelligence to do it themselves.
DAVID: I don't, and you know that.

dhw: You don’t what? Believe your God is capable of endowing cells with intelligence? Back to his limited powers?

I've said He can give them an IM but only with guidelines to advance evolution according to his plans. Cells are not intelligent by themselves, but automatic.

DAVID: Complex thought led to densification, as previously shown. We are the end of evolution, and our brain will not grow any more. It doesn't need to. Einstein had a thickened area related to conceptualization, but his hat size was normal.


dhw: It doesn’t need to grow, or maybe it can’t, but that hardly proves humans are the end point of evolution.

Upright posture was fully developed one million years ago or before. 350,000 years ago a fully developed Homo sapiens brain appeared (latest findings in Morocco). Now the brain through civilized concepts is slightly smaller with plasticity rewiring and densification. The whole drive is posture and prefrontal brain for all that time. I don't see another drive on the horizon, nor can I imagine one that adds anything better. Can you?

Evolution and humans: big brain or concept first?

by dhw, Monday, July 03, 2017, 13:23 (141 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: You continue to use the word “allow” without telling us where the new concepts come from. (See under “dualism versus materialism”.) You now have habilis’s little brain “allowing” NEW concepts, but erectus has to have a bigger brain to “allow” NEW concepts – and you think I’m confused. If habilis could have NEW concepts through rewiring, why couldn’t erectus?
DAVID: When habilis appears he has a bigger frontal area with more neurons. This allows him the ability to do a little more deep thinking.

First it was his “little brain allows new concepts” because of its plasticity, but now it’s his bigger brain that allows new concepts. You change your arguments from one day to the next.

DAVID: He becomes more conscious of possibilities. As he develops those ideas his brain can do a little plasticity rewiring to accommodate the new activities. Same for erectus at the next level of prefrontal size. He has the ability to conceptualize more. Again habilis brain/consciousness is seamless.

The new concept must precede the implementation of the new concept (I don’t know why you change my “implement” to “accommodate”.) Under “dualism versus materialism” you accept that the immaterial soul is in charge, and so – once more – it is the immaterial soul, not the brain or the enlarged brain, that directs the material brain to give material form to its concepts.

dhw: “Appears” is another of your wishy-washy words. In any case, it’s not the concept that “appears” but the material manifestation of the concept – a distinction you keep avoiding because you refuse to say whether the concept originates in the immaterial mind or the material brain.
DAVID: I keep saying it is seamless. The material brain uses the immaterial mind/consciousness under the direction of the proto human.

It is seamless in the sense that during life the soul and the body are “me”, but you say it is the soul/me that is in charge, and therefore the soul/me directs/uses the brain/me, and not the other way round. Unless, of course, you think that whatever is in charge is directed by the thing it is in charge of. (Back to your blind faith in the illogical?)

DAVID: I view myself while alive as using my brain to create concepts with the mechanism of my immaterial consciousness. I view myself as material while alive, using my immaterial consciousness. That is my view of dualism.

If your material self uses your immaterial self, then it is your material self that is in charge, the exact opposite of what you have agreed under “dualism versus materialism”.

dhw: You don’t what? Believe your God is capable of endowing cells with intelligence? Back to his limited powers?
DAVID: I've said He can give them an IM but only with guidelines to advance evolution according to his plans. Cells are not intelligent by themselves, but automatic.

If your God can create cells that seem to be intelligent, I suspect that he can create cells that actually are intelligent. You keep telling us that nobody can possibly judge from the outside...and so we are back to your dogmatic assertions that you just happen to know the truth.

dhw: It [the brain] doesn’t need to grow, or maybe it can’t, but that hardly proves humans are the end point of evolution.
DAVID: Upright posture was fully developed one million years ago or before. 350,000 years ago a fully developed Homo sapiens brain appeared (latest findings in Morocco). Now the brain through civilized concepts is slightly smaller with plasticity rewiring and densification. The whole drive is posture and prefrontal brain for all that time. I don't see another drive on the horizon, nor can I imagine one that adds anything better. Can you?

I am aware of the history, but the fact that I can’t imagine the human head expanding any more doesn’t help me to imagine what life will be like in, say, a thousand million years from now.

Evolution and humans: big brain or concept first?

by David Turell @, Monday, July 03, 2017, 17:53 (140 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: When habilis appears he has a bigger frontal area with more neurons. This allows him the ability to do a little more deep thinking.

dhw: First it was his “little brain allows new concepts” because of its plasticity, but now it’s his bigger brain that allows new concepts. You change your arguments from one day to the next.

Constant misinterpretation: It is obvious habilis had a bigger brain than his ancestors 'when he appears'. Obviously bigger frontal pre-frontal regions allows for deeper conceptualization.


DAVID: He becomes more conscious of possibilities. As he develops those ideas his brain can do a little plasticity rewiring to accommodate the new activities. Same for erectus at the next level of prefrontal size. He has the ability to conceptualize more. Again habilis brain/consciousness is seamless.

dhw: The new concept must precede the implementation of the new concept (I don’t know why you change my “implement” to “accommodate”.) Under “dualism versus materialism” you accept that the immaterial soul is in charge, and so – once more – it is the immaterial soul, not the brain or the enlarged brain, that directs the material brain to give material form to its concepts.

I use implement and accommodate as having the same meaning. Material me is in change of my material brain using an immaterial consciousness received by my brain to create my immaterial thoughts and the contents of my immaterial soul which is part of my consciousness.


dhw: It is seamless in the sense that during life the soul and the body are “me”, but you say it is the soul/me that is in charge, and therefore the soul/me directs/uses the brain/me, and not the other way round. Unless, of course, you think that whatever is in charge is directed by the thing it is in charge of. (Back to your blind faith in the illogical?)

See the statement above yours.


DAVID: I view myself while alive as using my brain to create concepts with the mechanism of my immaterial consciousness. I view myself as material while alive, using my immaterial consciousness. That is my view of dualism.

dhw: If your material self uses your immaterial self, then it is your material self that is in charge, the exact opposite of what you have agreed under “dualism versus materialism”.

Yes, my material self in life is currently in charge of running my immaterial self/consciousness.


dhw: You don’t what? Believe your God is capable of endowing cells with intelligence? Back to his limited powers?
DAVID: I've said He can give them an IM but only with guidelines to advance evolution according to his plans. Cells are not intelligent by themselves, but automatic.

dhw: If your God can create cells that seem to be intelligent, I suspect that he can create cells that actually are intelligent. You keep telling us that nobody can possibly judge from the outside...and so we are back to your dogmatic assertions that you just happen to know the truth.

If you would study some cellular biology you would see all the automaticity.


dhw: I am aware of the history, but the fact that I can’t imagine the human head expanding any more doesn’t help me to imagine what life will be like in, say, a thousand million years from now.

Humans will be gone by then, perhaps much sooner.

Evolution and humans: how vision sees light movement

by David Turell @, Wednesday, June 07, 2017, 19:25 (166 days ago) @ David Turell

How we follow moving light is explained to some degree:

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-06-eyes-visual-cues.html

"Using advanced electrical recording techniques, researchers from UQ's Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) discovered how nerve cells in the eye's retina were integral to the process.

"Professor Stephen Williams said that dendrites - the branching processes of a neuron that conduct electrical signals toward the cell body - played a critical role in decoding images.

"'The retina is not a simple camera, but actively processes visual information in a neuronal network, to compute abstractions that are relayed to the higher brain," Professor Williams said.

"'Previously, dendrites of neurons were thought to be passive input areas.

"'Our research has found that dendrites also have powerful processing capabilities."

"Co-author Dr Simon Kalita-de Croft said dendritic processing enabled the retina to convert and refine visual cues into electrical signals.

"'We now know that movement of light - say, a flying bird, or a passing car - gets converted into an electrical signal by dendritic processing in the retina," Dr Kalita-de Croft said.

"'The discovery bridges the gap between our understanding of the anatomy and physiology of neuronal circuits in the retina."

"Professor Williams said the ability of dendrites in the retina to process visual information depended on the release of two neurotransmitters - chemical messengers - from a single class of cell.

"'These signals are integrated by the output neurons of the retina," Professor Williams said.

"'Determining how the neural circuits in the retina process information can help us understand computational principles operational throughout the brain.

"'Excitingly, our discovery provides a new template for how neuronal computations may be implemented in brain circuits.'"

Comment: We now know how the electricity works, but this is where consciousness has to step in and give us an impression of seemless vision. Magical and all from wet matter! No. Consciousness at work

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Thursday, May 25, 2017, 18:53 (179 days ago) @ David Turell

A study of illiterate 30-year-old Indian women has shown they can learn to read quickly and the brain rewires itself in the process, since evolution has not prepared the brain for reading. although there is the preexisting speech area (Boca's):

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2132589-learning-to-read-and-write-rewires-adult-b...

"Skeide and his colleagues wanted to study how culture changes the brain, so focused on reading and writing. These cultural inventions have appeared only recently in our evolutionary history, so we haven’t had a chance to evolve specific genes for such skills.

"The team recruited 30 Hindi-speaking adults from two villages near the north Indian city of Lucknow, with an average age of about 31 years. Twenty one people from this group were taught to read and write the Devanagari script, which is used in Hindi and other Indian languages, over six months. Nine people weren’t taught anything. All of the volunteers had their brains scanned before and after the six-month period.

"By the end of the study, the team saw significant changes in the brains of the people who had learned to read and write. These individuals showed an increase in brain activity in the cortex, the outermost layer of the brain, which is involved in learning.

"Learning to read also seemed to change brain regions that aren’t typically involved in reading, writing or learning. Two regions deep in the brain, in particular, appeared more active after training – portions of the thalamus and the brainstem.

"These two regions are known to coordinate information from our senses and our movement, among other things. Both areas made stronger connections to the part of the brain that processes vision after learning to read. The most dramatic changes were seen in those people who progressed the most in their reading and writing skills.

"The brainstem and thalamus are also known to control attention, so this may also be enhanced by learning to read and write.

“'This clearly shows that reading, which involves important cognitive processes, also involves the development of important sensorimotor skills, namely the need to finely control eye movements to scan the text lines and to [move the eyes] onto most informative parts of text,” , says Gianluca Baldassarre of the Institute for Cognitive Sciences and Technologies in Rome, Italy.

"Such changes are probably happening in children as they learn to read and write, potentially faster and more widely, but no such studies have been done in children, says team member Falk Huettig of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, Netherlands."

Comments from another site: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4538816/Learning-read-adulthoood-transfo...

"'While it is quite difficult for us to learn a new language, it appears to be much easier for us to learn to read.

"'The adult brain proves to be astonishingly flexible.'
Specifically, researchers found that the exterior of the brain - known as the cortex, which is able to adapt quickly to new challenges - was not the main area where transformation occurred.

"Instead, researchers found that reorganisation took place deep inside the brain, particularly in the brainstem and thalamus,

***

"'We observed that the so-called colliculi superiores, a part of the brainstem, and the pulvinar, located in the thalamus, adapt the timing of their activity patterns to those of the visual cortex,'"

Comment: this is direct evidence that brain size and complexity contains abilities that can be learned by recruiting different areas of the brain, helped by actual brain plasticity, that stands at the ready to do the work. It is obvious from this study that size and complexity come first and learned use is second, just as I hypothesize in the hominin brain development I've discussed. This study clearly shows brain size and complexity first, then learned use.

Evolution and humans: big brain size or use

by David Turell @, Thursday, May 25, 2017, 23:23 (179 days ago) @ David Turell

More commentary on t he illiterate study and brain changes:

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/talking-back/for-the-illiterate-adult-learning-to-...

"We expected to replicate previous findings that changes are limited to the outer layer of the brain, the cortex, which is known to adapt quickly to new challenges. We found the expected changes in the cortex but we also observed that the learning process leads to a reorganization that extends to deep brain structures in the thalamus and the brainstem. The relatively young phenomenon of human literacy therefore changes brain regions that are very old in evolutionary terms and already core parts of mice and other mammalian brains. (my bold)

"More precisely, we found that a part of the brainstem known as the superior colliculus, and the pulvinar, located in the thalamus, adapt the timing of their activity patterns to those of the visual cortex. These deep structures in the thalamus and brainstem help our visual cortex to filter important information from the flood of visual input even before we consciously perceive it. Interestingly, it seems that the more the signal timings between the two brain regions are aligned, the better the reading capabilities. It appears that these brain systems  increasingly fine-tune their communication as learners become more and more proficient in reading."

Comment: Obviously I consider this a very important bit of evidence in deciding whether enlargement first and use second is the correct interpretation. Note my bolded area which indicates a very old evolutionary part of the brain is brought into play for a new use. The brain's ability to re-coordinate its connections is part of its plasticity. The neurologic abilities are there for the finding. Enlargement first!

Evolution and humans:H. sapiens 300,000 years ago

by David Turell @, Wednesday, June 07, 2017, 19:07 (166 days ago) @ David Turell

New fossil find in Morocco. we are older than thought:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170607133246.htm

"New fossil finds from Morocco do more than push back the origins of our species by 100,000 years. They also reveal what was on the menu for our oldest-known Homo sapiens ancestors 300,000 years ago: Plenty of gazelle.

***

"The new excavation project -- led by Jean-Jacques Hublin of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and Abdelouahed Ben-Ncer of the National Institute for Archaeology and Heritage (INSAP) in Rabat, Morocco -- uncovered 16 new Homo sapiens fossils along with stone tools and animal bones. The remains comprise skulls, teeth, and long bones of at least 5 individuals.

"Thermoluminescence dating of heated flints yielded an age of approximately 300,000 years ago -- 100,000 years earlier than the previously oldest Homo sapiens fossils.
Analysis of the animal fossils provided additional evidence to support the date. Dating of rodent remains suggested they were 337,000 to 374,000 years old.

"Steele sifted through hundreds of fossil bones and shells, identifying 472 of them to species as well as recording cut marks and breaks indicating which ones had been food for humans.

"Most of the animal bones came from gazelles. Among the other remains, Steele also identified hartebeests, wildebeests, zebras, buffalos, porcupines, hares, tortoises, freshwater mollusks, snakes and ostrich egg shells.

"Small game was a small percentage of the remains. "It really seemed like people were fond of hunting," she said.

***

"Steele said the findings support the idea that Middle Stone Age began just over 300,000 years ago, and that important changes in modern human biology and behaviour were taking place across most of Africa then.

"'In my view, what it does is to continue to make it more feasible that North Africa had a role to play in the evolution of modern humans.'"

Comment: We are older than thought. And Africa is still the spot of origin. Note they were stone age beings. No complex mentation, but simple activities of hunting and gathering.

Evolution and humans:H. sapiens 350,000 years ago

by David Turell @, Wednesday, June 07, 2017, 19:49 (166 days ago) @ David Turell

Another article on this new human find which differs in the description and conclusions:

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2133807-our-species-may-be-150000-years-older-than...

Has our species been hiding its real age? Fossils found in Morocco suggest the Homo sapiens lineage became distinct as early as 350,000 years ago – adding as much as 150,000 years to our species’ history.

On a literal reading of the fossil record, H. sapiens was thought to have emerged in East Africa roughly 200,000 years ago. But some researchers have long suspected that the roots of our species are deeper, given that H. sapiens-like fossils in South Africa have been tentatively dated at 260,000 years old.

The new evidence provides solid support to those suspicions. It comes from a Moroccan site called Jebel Irhoud (pictured below), which has been puzzling human evolution researchers for more than 50 years.

Hominin remains were found at the site in the 1960s. They have such an odd mix of ancient and modern features that they were initially mistaken for an African version of Neanderthals. Later reassessments put them closer to our species, and about a decade ago a dating technique suggested they were about 160,000 years old.

But by that point in prehistory, it is conventionally assumed that our fully modern species were already living in Africa, which made the Jebel Irhoud hominins’ mix of ancient and modern features confusing.

An analysis of the new fossils, and of those found at the site in the 1960s, confirms that the hominins had a primitive, elongated braincase. But the new adult skull shows that the hominins combined this ancient feature with a small, lightly built “modern” face – one that the researchers say is virtually indistinguishable from H. sapiens.

By assessing the levels of radiation at the site and measuring the radiation response in the tools, McPherron and his colleagues established that the tools were heated between 280,000 and 350,000 years ago. McPherron’s team also re-dated one of the hominin fossils found in the 1960s using their insight into the radiation levels at Jebel Irhoud and concluded it is 250,000 to 320,000 years old.

Armed with these dates, the Moroccan hominins become easier to understand, says Hublin. The researchers suggest that H. sapiens had begun to emerge – literally face-first – between about 250,000 and 350,000 years ago. Although other features of their anatomy still looked primitive, the Jebel Irhoud hominins should be considered the earliest known members of our species, say Hublin and his colleagues.

“The face is modern looking,” says Juan Luis Arsuaga at the Complutense University of Madrid, Spain. “But the mandible [jawbone] is not clearly modern. I would say that Jebel Irhoud is not yet H. sapiens, but I would bet that H. sapiens evolved from something very similar to Jebel Irhoud.”

However, Chris Stringer at the Natural History Museum in London is willing to loosen the definition of H. sapiens. ... We should consider including the Moroccan hominins in our species even though some of their features look ancient, he says.

Stringer thinks we shouldn’t be surprised to discover that our species is far more ancient than once thought. We know that our lineage split from the Neanderthal lineage at some point in prehistory, with Neanderthals then evolving in Europe while H. sapiens evolved in Africa. Recently, fossil and genetic evidence has suggested that this split occurred at least 500,000 years ago. “In my view, the date of this divergence should mark the origin of these two groups,” says Stringer.

This would imply that, roughly 500,000 years ago, Neanderthal-like hominins began appearing in Europe and H. sapiens-like hominins began appearing in Africa. In keeping with this idea, 430,000-year-old hominins found at a site called Sima de los Huesos in Spain do seem to be Neanderthal-like. But although the Jebel Irhoud fossils suggest H. sapiens had evolved a modern face 350,000 years ago, working out how, where and when our species evolved its other modern features will be challenging. “We have so few well-dated fossils,” says McPherron.

Comment: this ranch appears to be possibly a pre-branch before more modern H. sapiens appeared?

Evolution and humans: recent cave studies

by David Turell @, Thursday, June 15, 2017, 04:39 (159 days ago) @ David Turell

An analysis in a cave shows how simplistic life was:

https://phys.org/news/2017-06-neanderthal-homo-sapiens-transition.html

"An archaeological dig in a cave in the Moravian region of the Czech Republic has provided a timeline of evidence from 10 sedimentary layers spanning 28,000 to 50,000 years ago. This is the period when our modern human ancestors first arrived in Europe.

"The dig, in a cave near the Czech border with Austria and around 150kms north of Vienna, has unearthed over 20,000 animal bones as well as stone tools, weapons and an engraved bone bead that is the oldest of its kind in Central Europe.

"ANU archaeologist Dr Duncan Wright said the project was so important because it gives some of the earliest evidence of modern human activity in the region. This was a period when humans were moving substantial distances and bringing with them portable art objects.

"'In the early layers the items we've found are locally made flakes, possibly used by small communities living and hunting in the vicinity to kill animals or prepare food, but around 40,000 years ago we start to see objects coming from long distances away," Dr Wright said.

"'Dating from this same time we unearthed a bead made from mammal bone. This is the oldest portable art object of its type found anywhere in central Europe and provides evidence of social signalling, quite possibly used as a necklace to mark the identity of the wearer.

"'So between these two periods, we've either seen a change in behaviour and human movement or possibly even a change in species."

"Archaeologist Ladislav Nejman of the University of Sydney said one of the biggest questions is the beginnings of human exploration of this landscape by Homo sapiens who arrived in this area for the first time.

"'We've found that somewhere between 40-48,000 years ago people became highly mobile," Dr Nejman said.

"'Instead of moving short distances near the cave where they lived, they were walking for hundreds of kilometres quite often. We know that because we found various artefacts where the raw material comes from 100-200 kilometres away.

"'The artefacts were also made of different materials from different regions. Some from the North-West, some from the North, some from the East."

"However in layer 10, which represents an earlier time period between 48-45,000 years ago, all the recovered stone artefacts were made using local raw material, which indicates that the high residential mobility came later.

***

"The climate changed quite often from warmer to colder, and vice versa, but at all times it was much colder than the interglacial period that we have lived in for the past 10,000 years."

"Samples from the site have been sent through for analysis using a new technique, called ancient sediment DNA analysis. This is the first scientific method that can detect which species were present even without the bones of these species. It tests remnant DNA preserved in the sediment.

"Dr Wright said the results will shed new light on a period of transition between two species of humans and also give clearer evidence about the activities of our modern human ancestors in a period and region where little is known.

"'We can tell by the artefacts that small groups of people camped at this cave. This was during glacial periods suggesting they were well adapted to these harsh conditions" Dr Wright said.

"'It's quite possible that the two different species of humans met in this area.'"

Comment: Glaciers had come with cold temperature. They lived in caves. Their clothing was animal skins. They had simple language, simple social rules, sndf brains gaht had jumped 200,000 cc ove 150,000 years before and they hardly knew how to use that capacity. They learned in the past 12,000 years and the brain shrunk. Size first, use second, obviously in each staged jump in size.

Evolution and humans: recent cave studies

by dhw, Thursday, June 15, 2017, 13:14 (159 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: An analysis in a cave shows how simplistic life was:
https://phys.org/news/2017-06-neanderthal-homo-sapiens-transition.html

Comment: Glaciers had come with cold temperature. They lived in caves. Their clothing was animal skins. They had simple language, simple social rules, sndf brains gaht had jumped 200,000 cc ove 150,000 years before and they hardly knew how to use that capacity. They learned in the past 12,000 years and the brain shrunk. Size first, use second, obviously in each staged jump in size.

Yes, their life was simple compared to ours, and that is why the brain did not require further changes. The earliest known clothes go back 170,000 years (they could go back further). Give or take a few thousand, this and other advances may have caused the last expansion. Then humans continued to use that capacity until 12,000 years ago it could not cope with an explosion of new concepts. The fact that densification is CAUSED by new concepts clearly suggests that conceptualization causes changes to the brain – expansion in the early days, densification in later times.

Evolution and humans: recent cave studies

by David Turell @, Thursday, June 15, 2017, 18:51 (158 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: An analysis in a cave shows how simplistic life was:
https://phys.org/news/2017-06-neanderthal-homo-sapiens-transition.html

Comment: Glaciers had come with cold temperature. They lived in caves. Their clothing was animal skins. They had simple language, simple social rules, sndf brains gaht had jumped 200,000 cc ove 150,000 years before and they hardly knew how to use that capacity. They learned in the past 12,000 years and the brain shrunk. Size first, use second, obviously in each staged jump in size.

dhw: Yes, their life was simple compared to ours, and that is why the brain did not require further changes. The earliest known clothes go back 170,000 years (they could go back further). Give or take a few thousand, this and other advances may have caused the last expansion. Then humans continued to use that capacity until 12,000 years ago it could not cope with an explosion of new concepts. The fact that densification is CAUSED by new concepts clearly suggests that conceptualization causes changes to the brain – expansion in the early days, densification in later times.

Let's specify that the clothes were hides, the only coverings available through hunting, again not complex. Let's not fool ourselves. Concepts appeared gradually until recently. The 200 cc jump in size was sudden and not used it was learned how to use it, and then the brain shrunk. You still have it all backwards.

Evolution and humans: recent cave studies

by dhw, Friday, June 16, 2017, 12:35 (158 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: An analysis in a cave shows how simplistic life was:
https://phys.org/news/2017-06-neanderthal-homo-sapiens-transition.html

Comment: Glaciers had come with cold temperature. They lived in caves. Their clothing was animal skins. They had simple language, simple social rules, sndf brains gaht had jumped 200,000 cc ove 150,000 years before and they hardly knew how to use that capacity. They learned in the past 12,000 years and the brain shrunk. Size first, use second, obviously in each staged jump in size.

dhw: Yes, their life was simple compared to ours, and that is why the brain did not require further changes. The earliest known clothes go back 170,000 years (they could go back further). Give or take a few thousand, this and other advances may have caused the last expansion. Then humans continued to use that capacity until 12,000 years ago it could not cope with an explosion of new concepts. The fact that densification is CAUSED by new concepts clearly suggests that conceptualization causes changes to the brain – expansion in the early days, densification in later times.

DAVID: Let's specify that the clothes were hides, the only coverings available through hunting, again not complex. Let's not fool ourselves. Concepts appeared gradually until recently. The 200 cc jump in size was sudden and not used it was learned how to use it, and then the brain shrunk. You still have it all backwards.

Of course they were hides. And they were acquired by hunting. A quick google suggests that the first spears may even go back as many as 500,000 years. Name me one other animal that invents and makes weapons. Later came the use of hides as protection against the climate. Name me one other animal that cuts off the skin of another to protect itself. New concepts are new concepts, no matter how primitive they may seem to you, and each one may demand specialized use of the brain. Reading was a new concept to the illiterate women, and their brains responded to the new need by rewiring themselves, and so just as muscles respond to exercise by expanding, the brain would have done the same until it could no longer expand. Then, when it needed new abilities 12,000 years ago, it densified instead of expanding. I'm only theorizing of course, but can you fault the logic?

Evolution and humans: recent cave studies

by David Turell @, Friday, June 16, 2017, 20:28 (157 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: Of course they were hides. And they were acquired by hunting. A quick google suggests that the first spears may even go back as many as 500,000 years. Name me one other animal that invents and makes weapons. Later came the use of hides as protection against the climate. Name me one other animal that cuts off the skin of another to protect itself. New concepts are new concepts, no matter how primitive they may seem to you, and each one may demand specialized use of the brain. Reading was a new concept to the illiterate women, and their brains responded to the new need by rewiring themselves, and so just as muscles respond to exercise by expanding, the brain would have done the same until it could no longer expand. Then, when it needed new abilities 12,000 years ago, it densified instead of expanding. I'm only theorizing of course, but can you fault the logic?

Somewhat logical. Of course we are not like any other animal. Just think about it. Heavy use results in shrinkage; light use results in 200cc jumps in size every 1.5 roughly million years. Size first use second. Reading is way more complex than chipping a flint point and attaching it to a stick to throw. Of course the brain adjusted to this, but it grew instead of shrinking.

Evolution and humans: recent cave studies

by dhw, Saturday, June 17, 2017, 12:24 (157 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: Of course they were hides. And they were acquired by hunting. A quick google suggests that the first spears may even go back as many as 500,000 years. Name me one other animal that invents and makes weapons. Later came the use of hides as protection against the climate. Name me one other animal that cuts off the skin of another to protect itself. New concepts are new concepts, no matter how primitive they may seem to you, and each one may demand specialized use of the brain. Reading was a new concept to the illiterate women, and their brains responded to the new need by rewiring themselves, and so just as muscles respond to exercise by expanding, the brain would have done the same until it could no longer expand. Then, when it needed new abilities 12,000 years ago, it densified instead of expanding. I'm only theorizing of course, but can you fault the logic?

DAVID: Somewhat logical. Of course we are not like any other animal. Just think about it. Heavy use results in shrinkage; light use results in 200cc jumps in size every 1.5 roughly million years. Size first use second. Reading is way more complex than chipping a flint point and attaching it to a stick to throw. Of course the brain adjusted to this, but it grew instead of shrinking.

It is not a matter of heavy use versus light use. The brain grew because there was room for it to grow without making the head too big for the body. Only when further expansion would have proved damaging to that balance did densifying replace growth. (I suggest that shrinkage is just a minor side effect of densification, which has become increasingly efficient.) The first manufacture of weapons would have demanded a veritable explosion of abilities: the concept of sharpening stone and attaching it to a shaft required finding the means of sharpening the stone and of making the attachment, experimenting to find the correct balance between shaft and tip, muscle coordination for the very act of throwing the spear. Of course it all seems very minor now, but we take for granted every new step taken by our ancestors. Concept first, brain "adjustment" (= expansion) second, realization of concept third.

Evolution and humans: recent cave studies

by David Turell @, Saturday, June 17, 2017, 19:07 (156 days ago) @ dhw

dhw:It is not a matter of heavy use versus light use. The brain grew because there was room for it to grow without making the head too big for the body. Only when further expansion would have proved damaging to that balance did densifying replace growth. (I suggest that shrinkage is just a minor side effect of densification, which has become increasingly efficient.) The first manufacture of weapons would have demanded a veritable explosion of abilities: the concept of sharpening stone and attaching it to a shaft required finding the means of sharpening the stone and of making the attachment, experimenting to find the correct balance between shaft and tip, muscle coordination for the very act of throwing the spear. Of course it all seems very minor now, but we take for granted every new step taken by our ancestors. Concept first, brain "adjustment" (= expansion) second, realization of concept third.

What do the paleontologists find in their studies? They look at the produced artifacts by each hominin at a new brain size. Lucy had none we3 now of, but she still climbed trees based on anatomy and her brain size was chimp size. She was bipedal. At each of the next 200cc (average) increase the artifacts improve until we reach H. sapiens with a giant frontal lobe still in the stone age until 10,000 years ago and Native Americans in it until 500 years ago, and some remote tribes basically still there. Simple logic tells us as they received larger brains, they learned to produce more, and when the brain is intensively used it shrinks which is a small adjustment. There is no evidence to the opposite that beginning to use it enlarges it by 200cc, which based on the shrinkage size should have occurred in smaller steps, which are non-existent. Obviously, size first use second.

Evolution and humans: recent cave studies

by dhw, Sunday, June 18, 2017, 12:58 (156 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw:It is not a matter of heavy use versus light use. The brain grew because there was room for it to grow without making the head too big for the body. Only when further expansion would have proved damaging to that balance did densifying replace growth. (I suggest that shrinkage is just a minor side effect of densification, which has become increasingly efficient.) The first manufacture of weapons would have demanded a veritable explosion of abilities: the concept of sharpening stone and attaching it to a shaft required finding the means of sharpening the stone and of making the attachment, experimenting to find the correct balance between shaft and tip, muscle coordination for the very act of throwing the spear. Of course it all seems very minor now, but we take for granted every new step taken by our ancestors. Concept first, brain "adjustment" (= expansion) second, realization of concept third.

DAVID: What do the paleontologists find in their studies? They look at the produced artifacts by each hominin at a new brain size. Lucy had none we3 now of, but she still climbed trees based on anatomy and her brain size was chimp size. She was bipedal. At each of the next 200cc (average) increase the artifacts improve until we reach H. sapiens with a giant frontal lobe still in the stone age until 10,000 years ago and Native Americans in it until 500 years ago, and some remote tribes basically still there. Simple logic tells us as they received larger brains, they learned to produce more, and when the brain is intensively used it shrinks which is a small adjustment. There is no evidence to the opposite that beginning to use it enlarges it by 200cc, which based on the shrinkage size should have occurred in smaller steps, which are non-existent. Obviously, size first use second.

Have palaeontologists proved that a 200 cc (average) increase occurred BEFORE improved artefacts appeared, as opposed to the appearance of improved artefacts coinciding with a 200 cc (average) increase? I don’t understand your reference to shrinkage and smaller steps. I thought shrinkage only started to occur 12,000 years ago, when the maximum size had long since been reached, and so densification took over from enlargement. We should also be quite clear about your own theory. Are you saying that at regular intervals, your God dabbled with the brain, increasing its volume by 200 cc (average), and only after each increase were humans able to come up with new concepts? If so, how does this fit in with your belief that concepts are the product of the conscious self, which is independent of and survives the death of the receiver brain?

I’d better repeat that I am basing these arguments on YOUR beliefs. I remain undecided between dualism and materialism.

Evolution and humans: recent cave studies

by David Turell @, Sunday, June 18, 2017, 22:17 (155 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: Have palaeontologists proved that a 200 cc (average) increase occurred BEFORE improved artefacts appeared, as opposed to the appearance of improved artefacts coinciding with a 200 cc (average) increase?

What paleontologists find is that with each change in frontal brain size the early homos do more complex things like stone tools, conquering fire, wearing hides, etc. Each step in size works this way.

dhw:I don’t understand your reference to shrinkage and smaller steps. I thought shrinkage only started to occur 12,000 years ago, when the maximum size had long since been reached, and so densification took over from enlargement.

Increasingly intense use over the past 50,000 years resulted in densification and shrinkage when the usage of the plastic brain became intense enough. Early usage was obviously not that intense, and nothing happened except which each new +200cc fossil the obviously had more mental ability, which it then had to learn at that new stage

dhw: We should also be quite clear about your own theory. Are you saying that at regular intervals, your God dabbled with the brain, increasing its volume by 200 cc (average), and only after each increase were humans able to come up with new concepts?

Yes

dhw: If so, how does this fit in with your belief that concepts are the product of the conscious self, which is independent of and survives the death of the receiver brain?

Because I view the brain as a material computer receiver of the software consciousness, and I am the operator of that setup, just as you sit at your computer and compose thoughts to me. I know the software (consciousness) can separate from me in NDE's, and therefore at fully realized death. It all fits what we know.


dhw: I’d better repeat that I am basing these arguments on YOUR beliefs. I remain undecided between dualism and materialism.

I understand.

Evolution and humans: Neanderthal interbreeding

by David Turell @, Thursday, July 06, 2017, 16:41 (137 days ago) @ David Turell
edited by David Turell, Thursday, July 06, 2017, 16:58

Much earlier than thought:

http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/49806/title/Neanderthal-Human-Int...

"An analysis of a Neanderthal femur found in a German cave suggests that species was mixing it up with humans more than 270,000 years ago, researchers reported yesterday (July 4) in Nature. The authors compared mitochondrial DNA from the femur to mitochondrial DNA from other Neanderthals’ bones and modern humans, finding that it was more similar to the latter. They also dated the bone to about 124,000 years ago.

"The result was puzzling, as modern humans were thought to have established themselves on continents outside Africa much more recently—about 70,000 years ago. Study author Cosimo Posth of the University of Tübingen in Germany tells the New York Times that early members of our own species may in fact have left Africa and bred with Neanderthals more than 270,000 years ago.

“'We are realizing more and more that the evolutionary history of modern and archaic humans was a lot more reticulated than we would have thought 10 years ago,” coauthor Fernando Racimo, a postdoc at the New York Genome Center, tells New Scientist.

"Previous work has established that these gene swaps were a two-way street, with modern humans retaining genetic traces—some of them adaptive—of our Neanderthal ancestors
“There is this joke in the population genetics community—there’s always one more interbreeding event,” researcher Sergi Castellano, a population geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany who was not involved in this study, told Nature last year. He predicted, “as more early modern humans and archaic humans are found and sequenced, we’re going to see many more instances of interbreeding.'”

Comment: Consensual sex or rape? Could they have spoken to each other?

Another article:

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2139694-we-may-have-mated-with-neanderthals-more-t...

"'There is ample evidence of breeding between Neanderthals and the ancestors of modern humans some 50,000 years ago. “Everyone knows Neanderthals gave us genes,” says Cosimo Posth at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Leipzig, Germany.

"'Analysis of mitochondrial DNA from a Neanderthal femur found in south-western Germany now adds to evidence that there was earlier interbreeding. The DNA in the energy-producing mitochondria in our cells is different from that in our cell nuclei, and is passed only down the female line.

***

"'Puzzlingly, the mtDNA in Neanderthal bones is more similar to that of modern humans than it is to that of the Denisovans.

"'Posth and his colleagues looked at differences between the mtDNA in this femur and in other Neanderthals, and used mutational rates to calculate that the bone is 124,000 years old. The approach also indicates that this Neanderthal split from all other known Neanderthals sometime between 316,000 and 219,000 years ago. Yet it still contains key elements of early human mtDNA.

***

"'The results also suggest that Neanderthals had a much greater genetic diversity and larger population than we realised.

"'This study broadens our view, from the genetic perspective, of who the Neanderthals were as a species, says Toomas Kivisild at the University of Cambridge. “Previous work based on more than a dozen Neanderthal samples whose mitochondrial DNA had been sequenced has portrayed Neanderthals as a species of very low effective population size and genetic diversity,” he says.'"

Comment: The addition of sapiens DNA did not help the Neanderthals survive.

Evolution and humans: We don't know our parents

by David Turell @, Thursday, July 20, 2017, 01:38 (124 days ago) @ David Turell

There is a last common ancestor for the human and the ape lines, not yet identified. No question, we split off from someone not yet found:

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20170517-we-have-still-not-found-the-missing-link-betwee...

"The idea led to two inescapable conclusions. First, our species is not an only child. Somewhere out there in the natural world, there is at least one species of animal that is more closely related to humans than any other – what biologists would come to call humanity's "sister species".

"Secondly, and as importantly, our species has a long-lost parent. It stands to reason that if humanity has one or more sisters, then these siblings must have shared the same parent species at some point in prehistory. Evolutionary biologists call this species the "last common ancestor" (LCA). Most people know it by a non-scientific name: the "missing link".

"Scientists have been on the trail of the LCA for decades, and they still have not found it. But many are convinced that they have established enough information to make the hunt a lot easier. They think they know roughly when and where the LCA lived. They even have a reasonable idea of what it looked like and how it behaved.

***

""Lesser" apes like the gibbons offered a window into the anatomy of our earliest ape ancestors. Meanwhile the "great" apes – gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans – showed the anatomical features our ancestors possessed at the moment they split away from the other apes and began to develop a uniquely human appearance. Gorillas and chimps were not simply our sister species: they were also a lot like the LCA.

***

"It might seem absurd to argue that our highly developed brain is anything other than an example of primate evolution pushed to the extreme. But human arms, hands, legs and feet are not as highly specialised as we might assume.

"'In these characters man finds his counterparts not in anthropoid apes [gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans] but in animals that are clearly regarded… as more primitive," wrote Straus.

"What Straus and a few others were really getting at is that humans show none of the specialised features that allow other apes to swing through the trees. It made sense to at least consider the possibility that humans split apart from other primates before the apes evolved brachiation, or knuckle-walking for that matter.

"Straus could not say exactly which species should be recognised as our sister. But the LCA could well have been a relatively small-bodied primate that ran along branches rather than swinging beneath them.

***

"Working with his colleague, Emile Zuckerkandl, Pauling developed a truly revolutionary idea: the molecular clock......Their paper articulated the assumption that molecules are constantly changing, and the more ancient the divergence between species, the more time those species have had to accumulate their own molecular differences."

Pauling and Zuckerkandl used this concept – that some molecules accumulate tiny changes at a steady rate – to analyse proteins in human and gorilla blood. From the number of differences between the two sets of molecules, and an estimate of the rate that those differences accumulate, the researchers calculated that humans and gorillas had last shared a common ancestor roughly 11 million years ago.

***

"By the early 2000s, some physical anthropologists were even describing African apes like the chimpanzee as time machines into the earliest stages of human evolution.

"The story should end there, but it does not. Surprisingly, the last 15 years has actually seen popular opinion begin to swing away from the idea of a chimp-like LCA, and towards a model closer to that argued by people like Straus in the 1940s.

***

"By 2009, Tracy Kivell – now at the University of Kent, UK – and Daniel Schmitt at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, were arguing that humans did not evolve from a knuckle-walking LCA.

***

"Judging by fossil evidence from earlier apes, human hands are surprisingly primitive in appearance – notwithstanding the fact that we evolved an opposable thumb after the split from the LCA.

"Even the biologists studying modern primates are finding evidence that the LCA may not have been chimp-like.

***

"In the last five years, some geneticists have begun to question whether the molecular clocks they use to estimate when the LCA lived are being read correctly. It is possible, they say, that the LCA might actually have lived 13 – not seven – million years ago.

"Apes were still flourishing in Europe as well as Africa 13 million years ago, which means that in principle the LCA might have lived there."

Comment: The book Not a Chimp , 2009, points out that our DNA in action when analyzed is only 78% similar to chimps.

Evolution and humans: arrival in Australia

by David Turell @, Thursday, July 20, 2017, 18:34 (123 days ago) @ David Turell

Probably 60,000 years ago:

https://cosmosmagazine.com/archaeology/first-australians-arrived-65-000-years-ago-archa...

"Academics have long argued over the date of first Aboriginal landfall on Australia. Teams including dating specialist Richard Roberts, now at the University of Wollongong, dropped bombshells in the 1990s by reporting dates up to 60,000 years old for northern sites. Roberts is a co-author of this latest paper.

"Academics continue to bicker, however, with some favouring dates as recent as 47,000 years.

"In this new study, a team led by Chris Clarkson, of the University of Queensland, reports the Madjedbebe rock shelter, previously called Malakunanja II, in the Arnhem Land region of Australia’s Northern Territory, is up to 65,000 years old.

"Clarkson’s team dug the site, within the traditional lands of the Mirarr people, in 2012 and 2015, retrieving more than 10,000 artefacts from the basal levels.

"Hatchets for hunting, seed grinding stones for food processing and ochre “crayons” for art were among the objects collected.

"The multidisciplinary team included the University of Wollongong’s Zenobia Jacobs, who deployed the optically stimulated luminescence dating method on single grains of sand associated with the material at the lowest levels. The scientists used radiocarbon dating on organic matter from higher layers.

“'It confirms the deep-rooted connection to country of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Roberts told Cosmos. “It [the period of occupation] stretches back more than 2,000 generations.”

"Claudio Tuniz, a dating expert outside the research team, said the diversity of artefacts pointed to a “complex culture that could have been generated and sustained only by relatively large social groups”.

"The people would have had ample time to alter the landscape through the extinction of the continent’s giant marsupials, reptiles and birds called the megafauna.

"The new dates increase the possibility of interbreeding between Homo sapiens and other early human species in the region, added Tuniz, a dating specialist at the University of Wollongong and the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics, in Italy."

Comment: Undoubtedly came from Africa originally. Humans roamed all over the globe, the last arrivals were in the Western hemisphere 15-25,000 years ago.

Evolution and humans: eye ear coordination

by David Turell @, Monday, July 24, 2017, 01:56 (120 days ago) @ David Turell

Eye movement and ear drum movement are coordinated:

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2141467-your-eardrums-move-in-sync-with-your-eyes-...


"Jennifer Groh at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and her team have been using microphones inserted into people’s ears to study how their eardrums change during saccades – the movement that occurs when we shift visual focus from one place to another. You won’t notice it, but our eyes go through several saccades a second to take in our surroundings.

"Examining 16 people, the team detected changes in ear canal pressure that were probably caused by middle-ear muscles tugging on the eardrum. These pressure changes indicate that when we look left, for example, the drum of our left ear gets pulled further into the ear and that of our right ear pushed out, before they both swing back and forth a few times.

"These changes to the eardrums began as early as 10 milliseconds before the eyes even started to move, and continued for a few tens of milliseconds after the eyes stopped.

"We think that before actual eye movement occurs, the brain sends a signal to the ear to say ‘I have commanded the eyes to move 12 degrees to the right’,” says Groh. The eardrum movements that follow the change in focus may prepare our ears to hear sounds from a particular direction.

"Never before has the position of the eyes been seen to have an effect on the ears, says Dave Bulkin at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

"How our moving eardrums affect what we hear is unclear, says Groh. One theory for why the eyes and ears move together in this way is that it helps the brain make sense of what we see and hear.

"The discovery could lead to better hearing aids, which currently amplify all sound equally, regardless of where it is coming from.

"The brain of a person with normal hearing can focus on sound from a person you’re talking to in a restaurant, while ignoring a conversation at a nearby table, says Groh. “I could imagine a mechanism being incorporated into hearing aids that picks up signals of eyes moving to a new location and tries to amplify the sound at that location,” she says."

Comment: This is a logical arrangement. I imagine it will be found to be present in many animals.

Evolution and humans:H. sapiens 350,000 years ago

by David Turell @, Thursday, September 28, 2017, 22:04 (53 days ago) @ David Turell

More discoveries that suggest that early humans started as much as 350,000 years ago in
south Africa:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170928142016.htm

"A genomic analysis of ancient human remains from KwaZulu-Natal revealed that southern Africa has an important role to play in writing the history of humankind.

***

"The team sequenced the genomes of seven individuals who lived in southern Africa 2300-300 years ago. The three oldest individuals dating to 2300-1800 years ago were genetically related to the descendants of the southern Khoe-San groups, and the four younger individuals who lived 500-300 years ago were genetically related to current-day South African Bantu-speaking groups. "This illustrates the population replacement that occurred in southern Africa," says co-first author Carina Schlebusch, population geneticist at Uppsala University.

"The authors estimate the divergence among modern humans to have occurred between 350,000 and 260,000 years ago, based on the ancient Stone Age hunter-gatherer genomes. The deepest split time of 350,000 years ago represents a comparison between an ancient Stone Age hunter-gatherer boy from Ballito Bay on the east coast of South Africa and the West African Mandinka. "This means that modern humans emerged earlier than previously thought," says Mattias Jakobsson, population geneticist at Uppsala University

***

"The deeper estimate for modern human divergence at 350,000-260,000 years ago coincides with the Florisbad and Hoedjiespunt fossils, contemporaries of the small-brained Homo naledi in southern Africa. "It now seems that at least two or three Homo species occupied the southern African landscape during this time period, which also represents the early phases of the Middle Stone Age," says Marlize Lombard. It will be interesting to see in future if we find any evidence of interaction between these groups.

"'We did not find any evidence of deep structure or archaic admixture among southern African Stone Age hunter-gatherers, instead, we see some evidence for deep structure in the West African population, but that affects only a small fraction of their genome and is about the same age as the deepest divergence among all humans," says Mattias Jakobsson.

***

"Marlize Lombard said that "archaeological deposits dating to the time of the split by 350,000-260,000 years ago, attest to South Africa being populated by tool-making hunter-gatherers at the time. Although human fossils are sparse, those of Florisbad and Hoedjiespunt are seen as transitional to modern humans." These fossils may therefore be ancestral to the Ballito Bay boy and other San hunter-gatherers who lived in southern Africa 2000 years ago.

"The transition from archaic to modern humans might not have occurred in one place in Africa but in several, including southern Africa and northern Africa as recently reported. "Thus, both palaeo-anthropological and genetic evidence increasingly points to multiregional origins of anatomically modern humans in Africa, i.e. Homo sapiens did not originate in one place in Africa, but might have evolved from older forms in several places on the continent with gene flow between groups from different places," says Carina Schlebusch."

Comment: These findings add to the bush of humans that popped up all over Africa, including the fossil recently found in Morocco aged at 350,000 year ago. This burst of fossils of early humans supports the theory that evolution had a built-in special drive to create big-brained H. sapiens. God at work?

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by David Turell @, Friday, September 29, 2017, 14:41 (53 days ago) @ David Turell

There seems to be several lines of African descent:

https://cosmosmagazine.com/palaeontology/bones-of-stone-age-boy-challenge-single-origin...

"The 2,000-year-old bones of a boy found on a beach in South Africa have provided more grounds to challenge the prevailing theory that modern humans had a single origin in north-eastern Africa.

"That fraying theory, based on fossils found at Omo Kibish and elsewhere in Ethiopia, dates the emergence of modern humans to about 180,000 years ago. However, by using DNA analysis as a ‘molecular clock’ to calculate the length of time since the boy’s ancestors diverged genetically from other groups of modern humans, scientists in South Africa and Sweden estimate that modern humans must have existed between 260,000 and 350,000 years ago.

"This pushing back of the estimated date of the emergence of modern humans by at least 100,000 years is roughly in line with research published in June that dated human remains and other artefacts found at the Jebel Irhoud archaeological site in Morocco as about 300,000 years old.

"The finding lends weight to the hypothesis there was not just a single cradle of modern humankind in north-eastern Africa but, rather, an entire continental nursery.

“'It seems that both genetics and archaeology are converging on this point that there might be multiple places in Africa that archaic humans transitioned from Homo erectus to H. heidelbergensis to modern humans,” says Carina Schlebusch of Uppsala University in Sweden, lead author of the new research, published in the journal Science.

"Scientists have been hesitant about alternatives to the single-origin idea because of the demise of a previous ‘multiregional’ theory that once competed with the ‘Out of Africa’ hypothesis, Schlebusch says. That theory, suggesting separate groups of modern humans evolved from ancient hominin groups around the world, was disproven by DNA analysis showing Homo sapiens fossils throughout the rest of world were much closer genetically to each otherthan those from Africa, and therefore could not have evolved independently.

“'The multiregional theory was wrong in terms of how the globe was populated,” Schlebusch agrees, “but it is not necessarily wrong about how humans evolved in Africa.”

***

"Given the lack of supporting archaeological artefacts, the only thing known with certainty about the boy is what his genes tell us: he was a member of the San branch of the Khoe-San peoples of southern Africa. He likely lived a hunter-gatherer lifestyle and spoke with the clicks that linguistically unify the San with the Khoe, who practised a nomadic form of pastoral farming.

"The Khoe-San are not only genetically distinct from Europeans and Asians but also from other Africans. Research suggests that they are a branch of modern humans that diverged early from our oldest common H. sapiens ancestors.

"What makes Ballito Bay A special, from a contemporary scientific perspective, is his relative genetic “purity’, meaning his ancestry involved fewer procreative liaisons with members of other human groups than the other specimens."

Comment: In my view the burst of human development all over Africa can be the result of a direction by God. No other branch of primates did that.

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by dhw, Saturday, September 30, 2017, 13:10 (52 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID’s comment: In my view the burst of human development all over Africa can be the result of a direction by God. No other branch of primates did that.

I’m pleased to see that it “can be the result”, rather than “must”. It “can” also be the result of convergent evolution, with your God leaving it all to an inventive mechanism that exploits opportunities in similar environments. There are over 260 species of monkey. Why do you think your God organized such diversity among these primates? It used to be believed that monkeys also originated in Africa, but new evidence suggests that perhaps they originated in Asia. Like humans, they seem to have sprung up all over the place. All very strange, if God’s prime purpose was to produce the brain of Homo sapiens.

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by David Turell @, Saturday, September 30, 2017, 14:55 (51 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID’s comment: In my view the burst of human development all over Africa can be the result of a direction by God. No other branch of primates did that.

dhw: I’m pleased to see that it “can be the result”, rather than “must”. It “can” also be the result of convergent evolution, with your God leaving it all to an inventive mechanism that exploits opportunities in similar environments. There are over 260 species of monkey. Why do you think your God organized such diversity among these primates? It used to be believed that monkeys also originated in Africa, but new evidence suggests that perhaps they originated in Asia. Like humans, they seem to have sprung up all over the place. All very strange, if God’s prime purpose was to produce the brain of Homo sapiens.

The burst of monkeys only created monkeys. The burst of hominins created the human brain, the most complex organ on Earth. Obviously God's purpose.

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by dhw, Sunday, October 01, 2017, 13:30 (51 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID’s comment: In my view the burst of human development all over Africa can be the result of a direction by God. No other branch of primates did that.

dhw: I’m pleased to see that it “can be the result”, rather than “must”. It “can” also be the result of convergent evolution, with your God leaving it all to an inventive mechanism that exploits opportunities in similar environments. There are over 260 species of monkey. Why do you think your God organized such diversity among these primates? It used to be believed that monkeys also originated in Africa, but new evidence suggests that perhaps they originated in Asia. Like humans, they seem to have sprung up all over the place. All very strange, if God’s prime purpose was to produce the brain of Homo sapiens.

DAVID: The burst of monkeys only created monkeys. The burst of hominins created the human brain, the most complex organ on Earth. Obviously God's purpose.

So why the burst of monkeys? Or are you agreeing with me that your God allowed monkeys to do their own bursting? Or are you suggesting that only a burst of monkeys could have kept life going until your God could fulfil his purpose of producing the human brain?

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by David Turell @, Sunday, October 01, 2017, 14:16 (51 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: The burst of monkeys only created monkeys. The burst of hominins created the human brain, the most complex organ on Earth. Obviously God's purpose.

dhw: So why the burst of monkeys? Or are you agreeing with me that your God allowed monkeys to do their own bursting? Or are you suggesting that only a burst of monkeys could have kept life going until your God could fulfil his purpose of producing the human brain?

Obvious comment by me: monkeys in a zillion varieties did not improve their brain abilities. Our human burst did. Why the difference? Perhaps God at work.

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by dhw, Monday, October 02, 2017, 13:22 (50 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: The burst of monkeys only created monkeys. The burst of hominins created the human brain, the most complex organ on Earth. Obviously God's purpose.

dhw: So why the burst of monkeys? Or are you agreeing with me that your God allowed monkeys to do their own bursting? Or are you suggesting that only a burst of monkeys could have kept life going until your God could fulfil his purpose of producing the human brain?

DAVID: Obvious comment by me: monkeys in a zillion varieties did not improve their brain abilities. Our human burst did. Why the difference? Perhaps God at work.

I am not denying that the human brain has more abilities than the monkey brain. I am asking if your God allowed monkeys to do their own bursting, or did he have to organize a burst of monkeys in order to fulfil his purpose of producing the human brain? As for God at work, I’m pleased to see a little note of caution now, in the shape of a “perhaps”. And as for why the difference, yes indeed, why the difference between the weaverbird’s nest (which apparently only God could design) and the robin’s?

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by David Turell @, Monday, October 02, 2017, 15:15 (49 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: The burst of monkeys only created monkeys. The burst of hominins created the human brain, the most complex organ on Earth. Obviously God's purpose.

dhw: So why the burst of monkeys? Or are you agreeing with me that your God allowed monkeys to do their own bursting? Or are you suggesting that only a burst of monkeys could have kept life going until your God could fulfil his purpose of producing the human brain?

DAVID: Obvious comment by me: monkeys in a zillion varieties did not improve their brain abilities. Our human burst did. Why the difference? Perhaps God at work.

dhw: I am not denying that the human brain has more abilities than the monkey brain. I am asking if your God allowed monkeys to do their own bursting, or did he have to organize a burst of monkeys in order to fulfil his purpose of producing the human brain? As for God at work, I’m pleased to see a little note of caution now, in the shape of a “perhaps”. And as for why the difference, yes indeed, why the difference between the weaverbird’s nest (which apparently only God could design) and the robin’s?

As usual you ask lots of questions for which there are no answers. All species (here monkeys) have radiations of varieties, a pattern of evolution in general. My 'perhaps' is a softened way of presenting God to you. As for birds nests they all differ in design by species. Our bluebird nests do not look like robin's nests, but in my view God may have helped in all the designs by helping with a simple pattern to start with. The weaver is beyond simple.

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by dhw, Tuesday, October 03, 2017, 13:20 (49 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: I am not denying that the human brain has more abilities than the monkey brain. I am asking if your God allowed monkeys to do their own bursting, or did he have to organize a burst of monkeys in order to fulfil his purpose of producing the human brain? As for God at work, I’m pleased to see a little note of caution now, in the shape of a “perhaps”. And as for why the difference, yes indeed, why the difference between the weaverbird’s nest (which apparently only God could design) and the robin’s?

DAVID: As usual you ask lots of questions for which there are no answers. All species (here monkeys) have radiations of varieties, a pattern of evolution in general. My 'perhaps' is a softened way of presenting God to you. As for birds nests they all differ in design by species. Our bluebird nests do not look like robin's nests, but in my view God may have helped in all the designs by helping with a simple pattern to start with. The weaver is beyond simple.

There are no answers if you keep insisting that God did it all, even though his prime purpose was to produce the brain of Homo sapiens. If you allow for the possibility that instead he gave organisms the ability to do things for themselves, you have an answer to all my questions. (See “Evolution: survival and adaptation")

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by David Turell @, Tuesday, October 03, 2017, 14:02 (49 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: I am not denying that the human brain has more abilities than the monkey brain. I am asking if your God allowed monkeys to do their own bursting, or did he have to organize a burst of monkeys in order to fulfil his purpose of producing the human brain? As for God at work, I’m pleased to see a little note of caution now, in the shape of a “perhaps”. And as for why the difference, yes indeed, why the difference between the weaverbird’s nest (which apparently only God could design) and the robin’s?

DAVID: As usual you ask lots of questions for which there are no answers. All species (here monkeys) have radiations of varieties, a pattern of evolution in general. My 'perhaps' is a softened way of presenting God to you. As for birds nests they all differ in design by species. Our bluebird nests do not look like robin's nests, but in my view God may have helped in all the designs by helping with a simple pattern to start with. The weaver is beyond simple.

dhw: There are no answers if you keep insisting that God did it all, even though his prime purpose was to produce the brain of Homo sapiens. If you allow for the possibility that instead he gave organisms the ability to do things for themselves, you have an answer to all my questions. (See “Evolution: survival and adaptation")

That takes us back to God-lite, His giving a mechanism to organisms to change to newer (better?) forms, through their own action. But do you seriously think God would offer a free-style mechanism after producing the universe to support life, starting life, and then let organisms go it on their own? So He could watch the fun as they stupidly create all sorts of weird objects. That has been your approach. If I invested as much effort as God did, I'd at least guide the process. I'll stick with my thoughts.

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by dhw, Wednesday, October 04, 2017, 13:58 (48 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: There are no answers if you keep insisting that God did it all, even though his prime purpose was to produce the brain of Homo sapiens. If you allow for the possibility that instead he gave organisms the ability to do things for themselves, you have an answer to all my questions. (See “Evolution: survival and adaptation")

DAVID: That takes us back to God-lite, His giving a mechanism to organisms to change to newer (better?) forms, through their own action. But do you seriously think God would offer a free-style mechanism after producing the universe to support life, starting life, and then let organisms go it on their own? So He could watch the fun as they stupidly create all sorts of weird objects. That has been your approach. If I invested as much effort as God did, I'd at least guide the process. I'll stick with my thoughts.

Why “stupidly”? I thought you were full of wonderment at and appreciation of the astonishing variety and beauty and cleverness of nature’s wonders. So why wouldn’t your God look on them in the same way?

You keep going on about purpose. Then tell me what you think was his purpose in creating life with all its wonders, including the human brain, and then in hiding himself.

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by David Turell @, Wednesday, October 04, 2017, 15:38 (47 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: There are no answers if you keep insisting that God did it all, even though his prime purpose was to produce the brain of Homo sapiens. If you allow for the possibility that instead he gave organisms the ability to do things for themselves, you have an answer to all my questions. (See “Evolution: survival and adaptation")

DAVID: That takes us back to God-lite, His giving a mechanism to organisms to change to newer (better?) forms, through their own action. But do you seriously think God would offer a free-style mechanism after producing the universe to support life, starting life, and then let organisms go it on their own? So He could watch the fun as they stupidly create all sorts of weird objects. That has been your approach. If I invested as much effort as God did, I'd at least guide the process. I'll stick with my thoughts.

dhw: Why “stupidly”? I thought you were full of wonderment at and appreciation of the astonishing variety and beauty and cleverness of nature’s wonders. So why wouldn’t your God look on them in the same way?

You keep going on about purpose. Then tell me what you think was his purpose in creating life with all its wonders, including the human brain, and then in hiding himself.

Stupidly refers to the possibility of strange, unneeded forms. As for purpose, having humans with consciousness who could relate to Him through faith, because He is hidden. Life has its wonders but none of them, except us, recognize Him.

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by dhw, Thursday, October 05, 2017, 13:21 (47 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: There are no answers if you keep insisting that God did it all, even though his prime purpose was to produce the brain of Homo sapiens. If you allow for the possibility that instead he gave organisms the ability to do things for themselves, you have an answer to all my questions. (See “Evolution: survival and adaptation")

DAVID: That takes us back to God-lite, His giving a mechanism to organisms to change to newer (better?) forms, through their own action. But do you seriously think God would offer a free-style mechanism after producing the universe to support life, starting life, and then let organisms go it on their own? So He could watch the fun as they stupidly create all sorts of weird objects. That has been your approach. If I invested as much effort as God did, I'd at least guide the process. I'll stick with my thoughts.

dhw: Why “stupidly”? I thought you were full of wonderment at and appreciation of the astonishing variety and beauty and cleverness of nature’s wonders. So why wouldn’t your God look on them in the same way?
You keep going on about purpose. Then tell me what you think was his purpose in creating life with all its wonders, including the human brain, and then in hiding himself.

DAVID: Stupidly refers to the possibility of strange, unneeded forms. As for purpose, having humans with consciousness who could relate to Him through faith, because He is hidden. Life has its wonders but none of them, except us, recognize Him.

I don’t know what “strange, unneeded forms” you’re talking about. One might ask “unneeded for what?” The only answer from your hypothesis would be unneeded for the production of the human brain. And your inability to find any connection between the vast variety of “weird” forms and the brain makes your anthropocentric hypothesis all the more unlikely. In any case, why are they weird and stupid if produced by themselves, but not weird and stupid if produced by your God?

As for the purpose, we now have him producing all these weird and stupid creatures in order to keep life going until he can produce a being whose faith he can test. What sort of relationship can one have with a being that remains hidden? And what do you think he will get out of this faith? Sorry if I’ve misunderstood you, but I just can’t follow any of this.

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by David Turell @, Thursday, October 05, 2017, 15:01 (46 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: Stupidly refers to the possibility of strange, unneeded forms. As for purpose, having humans with consciousness who could relate to Him through faith, because He is hidden. Life has its wonders but none of them, except us, recognize Him.

dhw: I don’t know what “strange, unneeded forms” you’re talking about. One might ask “unneeded for what?” The only answer from your hypothesis would be unneeded for the production of the human brain. And your inability to find any connection between the vast variety of “weird” forms and the brain makes your anthropocentric hypothesis all the more unlikely. In any case, why are they weird and stupid if produced by themselves, but not weird and stupid if produced by your God?

As for the purpose, we now have him producing all these weird and stupid creatures in order to keep life going until he can produce a being whose faith he can test. What sort of relationship can one have with a being that remains hidden? And what do you think he will get out of this faith? Sorry if I’ve misunderstood you, but I just can’t follow any of this.

Your confusion comes from trying to define God from total logic. Can't do it. I started from a discovery that the only explanation for the complexity of the universe and life was a designing mind. What that mind presents is what it produces, but it is hidden. We see the works, but not the source. As for purpose, one must look at the pinnacle of what is produced and that is the human brain, which can then recognize that a designer must have done all we see. To me that is a full circle. The rest is guessing. Religions make up all sorts of stuff and are of no help. As you know that is my teleology in a nutshell. The key is realizing a designer is needed.

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by dhw, Friday, October 06, 2017, 13:31 (46 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Stupidly refers to the possibility of strange, unneeded forms. As for purpose, having humans with consciousness who could relate to Him through faith, because He is hidden. Life has its wonders but none of them, except us, recognize Him.

dhw: I don’t know what “strange, unneeded forms” you’re talking about. One might ask “unneeded for what?” The only answer from your hypothesis would be unneeded for the production of the human brain. And your inability to find any connection between the vast variety of “weird” forms and the brain makes your anthropocentric hypothesis all the more unlikely. In any case, why are they weird and stupid if produced by themselves, but not weird and stupid if produced by your God?
As for the purpose, we now have him producing all these weird and stupid creatures in order to keep life going until he can produce a being whose faith he can test. What sort of relationship can one have with a being that remains hidden? And what do you think he will get out of this faith? Sorry if I’ve misunderstood you, but I just can’t follow any of this.

DAVID: Your confusion comes from trying to define God from total logic. Can't do it. I started from a discovery that the only explanation for the complexity of the universe and life was a designing mind. What that mind presents is what it produces, but it is hidden. We see the works, but not the source. As for purpose, one must look at the pinnacle of what is produced and that is the human brain, which can then recognize that a designer must have done all we see. To me that is a full circle. The rest is guessing. Religions make up all sorts of stuff and are of no help. As you know that is my teleology in a nutshell. The key is realizing a designer is needed.

I understand perfectly well why you believe there is a designer. And I understand perfectly well why you think the human brain is the most complex organ that evolution has produced so far (although you do not believe it is the source of our extraordinary level of consciousness). What I do not understand is why your teleology is confined to the production of the human brain. Eight stages of whale, froggy poison, weaverbird’s nests, wasps laying eggs in spiders, and today’s toxin-eating snakes – all specially designed by your God to keep life going for the sake of the human brain? But I am NOT trying to define God from total logic. I am trying to find logic in your interpretation of how your God thinks and works. If your interpretation defies logic, we must face the possibility that it is wrong.

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by David Turell @, Friday, October 06, 2017, 21:24 (45 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Your confusion comes from trying to define God from total logic. Can't do it. I started from a discovery that the only explanation for the complexity of the universe and life was a designing mind. What that mind presents is what it produces, but it is hidden. We see the works, but not the source. As for purpose, one must look at the pinnacle of what is produced and that is the human brain, which can then recognize that a designer must have done all we see. To me that is a full circle. The rest is guessing. Religions make up all sorts of stuff and are of no help. As you know that is my teleology in a nutshell. The key is realizing a designer is needed.

dhw: I understand perfectly well why you believe there is a designer. And I understand perfectly well why you think the human brain is the most complex organ that evolution has produced so far (although you do not believe it is the source of our extraordinary level of consciousness). What I do not understand is why your teleology is confined to the production of the human brain. Eight stages of whale, froggy poison, weaverbird’s nests, wasps laying eggs in spiders, and today’s toxin-eating snakes – all specially designed by your God to keep life going for the sake of the human brain? But I am NOT trying to define God from total logic. I am trying to find logic in your interpretation of how your God thinks and works. If your interpretation defies logic, we must face the possibility that it is wrong.

Your probing of God's reasoning is your problem. I don't know if I am right. I can only make suppositions from what we see He has produced. You question why He has produced certain organisms in evolution. I don't worry about it. I find a reasonable explanation in balance of nature to allow energy to be produced to have evolution continue until the human brain arrives. You can't seem to recognize human specialness in discussing the brain, in that to me evolution appears driven to produce us while all the other primates are left behind. The overall picture I present is very convincing to me. I'm sorry it doesn't move you.

In your answer you have again shifted the discussion to God's intentions. You have again, as always, avoided the issue of a need for a designer by agreeing that you understand my reasoning. I don't understand your reluctance in accepting a designer is needed. No matter how you squirm the only source of what we see is chance or design. Nothing else fits the issue.

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by dhw, Saturday, October 07, 2017, 10:17 (45 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: I understand perfectly well why you believe there is a designer. And I understand perfectly well why you think the human brain is the most complex organ that evolution has produced so far (although you do not believe it is the source of our extraordinary level of consciousness). What I do not understand is why your teleology is confined to the production of the human brain. Eight stages of whale, froggy poison, weaverbird’s nests, wasps laying eggs in spiders, and today’s toxin-eating snakes – all specially designed by your God to keep life going for the sake of the human brain? But I am NOT trying to define God from total logic. I am trying to find logic in your interpretation of how your God thinks and works. If your interpretation defies logic, we must face the possibility that it is wrong. (dhw’s bold)

DAVID: Your probing of God's reasoning is your problem. I don't know if I am right. I can only make suppositions from what we see He has produced. You question why He has produced certain organisms in evolution. I don't worry about it. I find a reasonable explanation in balance of nature to allow energy to be produced to have evolution continue until the human brain arrives. You can't seem to recognize human specialness in discussing the brain, in that to me evolution appears driven to produce us while all the other primates are left behind. The overall picture I present is very convincing to me. I'm sorry it doesn't move you. (dhw’s bold)
In your answer you have again shifted the discussion to God's intentions. You have again, as always, avoided the issue of a need for a designer by agreeing that you understand my reasoning. I don't understand your reluctance in accepting a designer is needed. No matter how you squirm the only source of what we see is chance or design. Nothing else fits the issue. (dhw’s bold)

Once we agree (the sections in bold), there is nothing further to discuss! That is not an avoidance of the issue. Your design argument makes sense to me, and I acknowledge that the human brain is special. However, the atheist argument that the mysteries of life cannot be explained by creating another mystery in the form of an unknown, unknowable, sourceless, superintelligent, universe-encompassing being also makes sense to me. Hence my agnosticism. Your interpretation of your God’s evolutionary intentions do not make sense to me, and since you cannot answer my questions, they clearly don’t make sense to you either, but you don’t worry about it. That’s one way of avoiding the issue, but fine, I don’t worry about it either. I just keep looking for more logical explanations of evolution than yours, while always allowing for a designer. “No matter how you squirm”, you have acknowledged that my theistic hypothesis (your God designing a process in which organisms can do their own designing, though he can dabble if he wants to) fits the facts as we know them, and so “I don’t understand your reluctance” to accept the possibility that it might be closer to the truth than your own.

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by David Turell @, Saturday, October 07, 2017, 14:24 (45 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: Once we agree (the sections in bold), there is nothing further to discuss! That is not an avoidance of the issue. Your design argument makes sense to me, and I acknowledge that the human brain is special. However, the atheist argument that the mysteries of life cannot be explained by creating another mystery in the form of an unknown, unknowable, sourceless, superintelligent, universe-encompassing being also makes sense to me. Hence my agnosticism.

But someone or something had to do the designing is my starting point. To me it is required. Major difference in though between us.

dhw: Your interpretation of your God’s evolutionary intentions do not make sense to me, and since you cannot answer my questions, they clearly don’t make sense to you either, but you don’t worry about it. That’s one way of avoiding the issue, but fine, I don’t worry about it either.

I gave you an answer you will not accept: balance of nature, until the human brain exists. Your mind is as closed as you infer below mine is.

dhw: I just keep looking for more logical explanations of evolution than yours, while always allowing for a designer. “No matter how you squirm”, you have acknowledged that my theistic hypothesis (your God designing a process in which organisms can do their own designing, though he can dabble if he wants to) fits the facts as we know them, and so “I don’t understand your reluctance” to accept the possibility that it might be closer to the truth than your own.

Theories that fit facts are not proof. I have identified what I view as powerful factors that point to God's purpose that include more than just studying evolution. I'll stick to my conclusions as I fit it into my overall views. I've crossed over to faith in my beliefs.

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by dhw, Sunday, October 08, 2017, 13:01 (44 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: […] Your design argument makes sense to me, and I acknowledge that the human brain is special. However, the atheist argument that the mysteries of life cannot be explained by creating another mystery in the form of an unknown, unknowable, sourceless, superintelligent, universe-encompassing being also makes sense to me. Hence my agnosticism.

DAVID: But someone or something had to do the designing is my starting point. To me it is required. Major difference in thought between us.

I find this a very logical and acceptable answer. It is one of the major reasons why I cannot embrace atheism, and why I admire the thoroughness with which you have accumulated your evidence for design.

dhw: Your interpretations of your God’s evolutionary intentions do not make sense to me, and since you cannot answer my questions, they clearly don’t make sense to you either, but you don’t worry about it. That’s one way of avoiding the issue, but fine, I don’t worry about it either.

DAVID: I gave you an answer you will not accept: balance of nature, until the human brain exists. Your mind is as closed as you infer below mine is.

This is the answer I find illogical and hence unacceptable: that your all-powerful God sets out to produce the human brain, but on the way has to design eight stages of whale, the weaverbird’s nest, the toxin-eating snake, the monarch’s reproductive cycle etc. in order to “balance nature” so that life will go on until he can do what he really wants to do. You can’t make sense of it either (it is one of several questions you can’t answer), but you refuse to consider any other explanation.

dhw: I just keep looking for more logical explanations of evolution than yours, while always allowing for a designer. “No matter how you squirm”, you have acknowledged that my theistic hypothesis (your God designing a process in which organisms can do their own designing, though he can dabble if he wants to) fits the facts as we know them, and so “I don’t understand your reluctance” to accept the possibility that it might be closer to the truth than your own.

DAVID: Theories that fit facts are not proof. I have identified what I view as powerful factors that point to God's purpose that include more than just studying evolution. I'll stick to my conclusions as I fit it into my overall views. I've crossed over to faith in my beliefs.

None of the hypotheses are proven, though I would suggest that if they fit the facts, they have a better chance of being true than theories that don't fit the facts! I can understand and accept your faith in the God hypothesis, for which you provide logical reasons, but that is a separate issue from your faith in your illogical explanation of the great higgledy-piggledy bush of evolution. And so whenever you claim that new discoveries or natural wonders support this particular aspect of your faith, we go down the same path: I ask how they fit the facts and you don’t know. Design: yes; anthropocentrism, no (although the option of a dabble remains open).

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by David Turell @, Sunday, October 08, 2017, 14:43 (44 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: Your interpretations of your God’s evolutionary intentions do not make sense to me, and since you cannot answer my questions, they clearly don’t make sense to you either, but you don’t worry about it. That’s one way of avoiding the issue, but fine, I don’t worry about it either.

DAVID: I gave you an answer you will not accept: balance of nature, until the human brain exists. Your mind is as closed as you infer below mine is.

dhw: This is the answer I find illogical and hence unacceptable: that your all-powerful God sets out to produce the human brain, but on the way has to design eight stages of whale, the weaverbird’s nest, the toxin-eating snake, the monarch’s reproductive cycle etc. in order to “balance nature” so that life will go on until he can do what he really wants to do. You can’t make sense of it either (it is one of several questions you can’t answer), but you refuse to consider any other explanation.

Our difference here is I find my explanations entirely logical. I look at history: God chose to evolve the universe, the Earth, and humans. Balance of nature allows for the time involved. Whales contribute to the ocean's balance of nature. That has been shown. Some of the unanswerable points have no answers I can logically arrive it. Can't answer doesn't mean I've failed. If I find your suppositions as illogical in view of my acceptance of God, so be it.


dhw: I just keep looking for more logical explanations of evolution than yours, while always allowing for a designer. “No matter how you squirm”, you have acknowledged that my theistic hypothesis (your God designing a process in which organisms can do their own designing, though he can dabble if he wants to) fits the facts as we know them, and so “I don’t understand your reluctance” to accept the possibility that it might be closer to the truth than your own.

DAVID: Theories that fit facts are not proof. I have identified what I view as powerful factors that point to God's purpose that include more than just studying evolution. I'll stick to my conclusions as I fit it into my overall views. I've crossed over to faith in my beliefs.

dhw: None of the hypotheses are proven, though I would suggest that if they fit the facts, they have a better chance of being true than theories that don't fit the facts! I can understand and accept your faith in the God hypothesis, for which you provide logical reasons, but that is a separate issue from your faith in your illogical explanation of the great higgledy-piggledy bush of evolution. And so whenever you claim that new discoveries or natural wonders support this particular aspect of your faith, we go down the same path: I ask how they fit the facts and you don’t know. Design: yes; anthropocentrism, no (although the option of a dabble remains open).

Unfortunately we are discussing evolution in a vacuum. My faith in God is based on much more than that one aspect of God's work. Those considerations are the content of both of my books which you have read. No need to represent all of them here. I find my view of evolution as logical. You just can't accept the bush is God's choice.

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by dhw, Monday, October 09, 2017, 12:49 (43 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Our difference here is I find my explanations entirely logical. I look at history: God chose to evolve the universe, the Earth, and humans.

If God exists, so far so good. No difference except that my theistic hypothesis is that he also “chose to evolve” the whole evolutionary bush, which includes humans. But see below for HOW he chose to evolve the bush.

DAVID: Balance of nature allows for the time involved.

Which, as we have agreed over and over again, means there will be some sort of balance of nature so long as life exists. Nothing to do with the production of the human brain, without which there would STILL be some sort of balance in nature.

DAVID: Whales contribute to the ocean's balance of nature. That has been shown.

You have agreed you don’t know why your God needed eight stages to produce whales, and they – like most organisms that have existed and/or died out as the balance of nature keeps changing – have no connection with the production of the human brain. Do you seriously believe your God could not have produced humans if he hadn’t first designed eight stages of whale, the toxin-eating snake, the weaverbird’s nest etc.?

DAVID: Some of the unanswerable points have no answers I can logically arrive it. Can't answer doesn't mean I've failed. If I find your suppositions as illogical in view of my acceptance of God, so be it.

You have agreed that my evolutionary hypotheses (not suppositions), based on a hypothetical acceptance of God, fit in with the facts as we know them. They answer all the questions you cannot answer, so what do you find illogical?

DAVID: Unfortunately we are discussing evolution in a vacuum. My faith in God is based on much more than that one aspect of God's work. Those considerations are the content of both of my books which you have read. No need to represent all of them here. I find my view of evolution as logical. You just can't accept the bush is God's choice.

If God exists, my theistic hypothesis is precisely that the bush IS his choice. Once more: he CHOSE to design an autonomous mechanism which he knew would produce a bush – not just one single species (though he might have done a dabble to produce us, or to throw Chixculub at the dinosaurs) but the whole vast variety of species, lifestyles and natural wonders that have come and gone throughout life’s history. And yet again, I accept that your faith in God is based on a powerful argument for design as well as certain psychic phenomena. But your view of evolution is not based on your faith in God – it is based on your belief that God’s mind works in a way which even you cannot explain logically. “Can’t answer” doesn’t mean you’ve failed; it simply means that your hypothesis might be wrong, and a hypothesis that CAN answer might be right.

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by David Turell @, Monday, October 09, 2017, 14:58 (42 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: Balance of nature allows for the time involved.

dhw: Which, as we have agreed over and over again, means there will be some sort of balance of nature so long as life exists. Nothing to do with the production of the human brain, without which there would STILL be some sort of balance in nature.

Your reasoning leaves out the point of view that the human brain appeared but without a necessary reason, based on environmental pressures.


DAVID: Whales contribute to the ocean's balance of nature. That has been shown.

dhw: You have agreed you don’t know why your God needed eight stages to produce whales, and they – like most organisms that have existed and/or died out as the balance of nature keeps changing – have no connection with the production of the human brain. Do you seriously believe your God could not have produced humans if he hadn’t first designed eight stages of whale, the toxin-eating snake, the weaverbird’s nest etc.?

I view it as God's choice to allow for evolution as a prolonged process requiring balance of nature. I've told you I don't know if God can directly create. No scientific evidence of it.


DAVID: Some of the unanswerable points have no answers I can logically arrive it. Can't answer doesn't mean I've failed. If I find your suppositions as illogical in view of my acceptance of God, so be it.

dhw: You have agreed that my evolutionary hypotheses (not suppositions), based on a hypothetical acceptance of God, fit in with the facts as we know them. They answer all the questions you cannot answer, so what do you find illogical?

I feel I see God's purpose differently than you do. Your general purpose for God is to create a spectacle. I find that superficial. God wanted us to be able to think of Him.


DAVID: Unfortunately we are discussing evolution in a vacuum. My faith in God is based on much more than that one aspect of God's work. Those considerations are the content of both of my books which you have read. No need to represent all of them here. I find my view of evolution as logical. You just can't accept the bush is God's choice.

dhw: If God exists, my theistic hypothesis is precisely that the bush IS his choice. Once more: he CHOSE to design an autonomous mechanism which he knew would produce a bush – not just one single species (though he might have done a dabble to produce us, or to throw Chixculub at the dinosaurs) but the whole vast variety of species, lifestyles and natural wonders that have come and gone throughout life’s history. And yet again, I accept that your faith in God is based on a powerful argument for design as well as certain psychic phenomena. But your view of evolution is not based on your faith in God – it is based on your belief that God’s mind works in a way which even you cannot explain logically. “Can’t answer” doesn’t mean you’ve failed; it simply means that your hypothesis might be wrong, and a hypothesis that CAN answer might be right.

You raise the issue of can we have a full logical insight into God's intentions and thoughts. We can only approach this from what we see He produced, not just life's evolution but the universe, Earth, etc. I do the best I can, and I identify purpose as best I can.

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by dhw, Tuesday, October 10, 2017, 14:02 (42 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Balance of nature allows for the time involved.
dhw: Which, as we have agreed over and over again, means there will be some sort of balance of nature so long as life exists. Nothing to do with the production of the human brain, without which there would STILL be some sort of balance in nature.
DAVID: Your reasoning leaves out the point of view that the human brain appeared but without a necessary reason, based on environmental pressures.

Dealt with a thousand times by both of us. Since bacteria have survived, there was no “necessary reason” for anything else to evolve. And your reasoning still doesn’t link the unnecessary weaverbird’s nest/eight-stage whale/toxin-eating snake etc. to the production of the unnecessary human brain.

DAVID: I view it as God's choice to allow for evolution as a prolonged process requiring balance of nature. I've told you I don't know if God can directly create. No scientific evidence of it.

All life requires some sort of balance in nature. I thought your alternative to preprogramming was dabbling, which I thought meant direct creation. Now all of a sudden you are considering limiting your previously all-powerful God’s powers again! I’m surprised that a God who can preprogramme every single innovation, lifestyle and natural wonder in the history of evolution might be incapable of creating something directly. In your scenario, didn’t he directly create the first cells with those countless zillions of programmes?

dhw: You have agreed that my evolutionary hypotheses (not suppositions), based on a hypothetical acceptance of God, fit in with the facts as we know them. They answer all the questions you cannot answer, so what do you find illogical?
DAVID: I feel I see God's purpose differently than you do. Your general purpose for God is to create a spectacle. I find that superficial. God wanted us to be able to think of Him.

Part of the spectacle could be the different ways humans think of your God and act accordingly. Human behaviour would certainly provide the spectacle with enormous variety. In any case, how does your judgement of “superficiality” render the hypothesis illogical?

Dhw: “Can’t answer” doesn’t mean you’ve failed; it simply means that your hypothesis might be wrong, and a hypothesis that CAN answer might be right.
DAVID: You raise the issue of can we have a full logical insight into God's intentions and thoughts. We can only approach this from what we see He produced, not just life's evolution but the universe, Earth, etc. I do the best I can, and I identify purpose as best I can.

I have not raised that issue at all. We agree that nobody can possibly have a full insight into God’s intentions and thoughts. The issue is whether your approach and my approach to what he produced (if he exists) result in a coherent hypothesis. You admit that yours is not logical (because it raises questions you can’t answer) and that mine is, because it answers those questions.

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by David Turell @, Tuesday, October 10, 2017, 14:47 (42 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Your reasoning leaves out the point of view that the human brain appeared but without a necessary reason, based on environmental pressures.

Since bacteria have survived, there was no “necessary reason” for anything else to evolve. And your reasoning still doesn’t link the unnecessary weaverbird’s nest/eight-stage whale/toxin-eating snake etc. to the production of the unnecessary human brain.

But organisms kept appearing. For no reason or God driving? Totally reasonable as balance of nature.


DAVID: I view it as God's choice to allow for evolution as a prolonged process requiring balance of nature. I've told you I don't know if God can directly create. No scientific evidence of it.

dhw: All life requires some sort of balance in nature. I thought your alternative to preprogramming was dabbling, which I thought meant direct creation. Now all of a sudden you are considering limiting your previously all-powerful God’s powers again! I’m surprised that a God who can preprogramme every single innovation, lifestyle and natural wonder in the history of evolution might be incapable of creating something directly. In your scenario, didn’t he directly create the first cells with those countless zillions of programmes?

Once again, God uses the process of evolution. We don't, since we don't know how life began, we don't know if God created life all at once or in several stages as the OOL theorists try to tell us.


dhw: You have agreed that my evolutionary hypotheses (not suppositions), based on a hypothetical acceptance of God, fit in with the facts as we know them. They answer all the questions you cannot answer, so what do you find illogical?
DAVID: I feel I see God's purpose differently than you do. Your general purpose for God is to create a spectacle. I find that superficial. God wanted us to be able to think of Him.

dhw: Part of the spectacle could be the different ways humans think of your God and act accordingly. Human behaviour would certainly provide the spectacle with enormous variety. In any case, how does your judgement of “superficiality” render the hypothesis illogical?

I view God as much more serious than you do. My view of his personality is not yours which is always trying to humanize Him.


Dhw: “Can’t answer” doesn’t mean you’ve failed; it simply means that your hypothesis might be wrong, and a hypothesis that CAN answer might be right.

DAVID: You raise the issue of can we have a full logical insight into God's intentions and thoughts. We can only approach this from what we see He produced, not just life's evolution but the universe, Earth, etc. I do the best I can, and I identify purpose as best I can.

dhw: I have not raised that issue at all. We agree that nobody can possibly have a full insight into God’s intentions and thoughts. The issue is whether your approach and my approach to what he produced (if he exists) result in a coherent hypothesis. You admit that yours is not logical (because it raises questions you can’t answer) and that mine is, because it answers those questions.

Yours fits the history we observe, which is not proof of anything. I start with God's purpose. You don't. Do you see purpose and try to explain God from that position?

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by dhw, Wednesday, October 11, 2017, 13:44 (41 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Your reasoning leaves out the point of view that the human brain appeared but without a necessary reason, based on environmental pressures.

dhw: Since bacteria have survived, there was no “necessary reason” for anything else to evolve. And your reasoning still doesn’t link the unnecessary weaverbird’s nest/eight-stage whale/toxin-eating snake etc. to the production of the unnecessary human brain.

DAVID: But organisms kept appearing. For no reason or God driving? Totally reasonable as balance of nature.

So they were all unnecessary, and somehow that means your all-powerful God said to himself: “I must design eight stages of whale and the weaverbird’s nest in order to balance nature until I can produce the human brain, which is my prime purpose.” You keep admitting you can’t find any logic in this, and yet you say it's “totally reasonable”.

DAVID: Once again, God uses the process of evolution. We don't, since we don't know how life began, we don't know if God created life all at once or in several stages as the OOL theorists try to tell us.

You also wrote “I don’t know if God can directly create.” And yet you believe he can create a whole universe, and preprogramme or dabble all the innovations that lead to new species, plus all the different lifestyles and natural wonders. Is this “totally reasonable”?

DAVID: I feel I see God's purpose differently than you do. Your general purpose for God is to create a spectacle. I find that superficial. God wanted us to be able to think of Him.
dhw: Part of the spectacle could be the different ways humans think of your God and act accordingly. Human behaviour would certainly provide the spectacle with enormous variety. In any case, how does your judgement of “superficiality” render the hypothesis illogical?
DAVID: I view God as much more serious than you do. My view of his personality is not yours which is always trying to humanize Him.

So you are not humanizing him when you tell us that he is too serious to want to create a spectacle, and he wants us to think of him. Any non-human theories as to why he wants us to think of him?

dhw: The issue is whether your approach and my approach to what he produced (if he exists) result in a coherent hypothesis. You admit that yours is not logical (because it raises questions you can’t answer) and that mine is, because it answers those questions.
DAVID: Yours fits the history we observe, which is not proof of anything. I start with God's purpose. You don't. Do you see purpose and try to explain God from that position?

Nothing can be proven. Clearly you do indeed start with what you insist is God’s purpose (the production of Homo sapiens’ brain). Then you try to mould what we observe so that it will fit that purpose, and by your own admission it doesn’t. I start with the world we observe, and try to extrapolate purpose from that. And you admit that the purpose I extrapolate fits the history.

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by David Turell @, Wednesday, October 11, 2017, 14:51 (41 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: Once again, God uses the process of evolution. We don't, since we don't know how life began, we don't know if God created life all at once or in several stages as the OOL theorists try to tell us.

dhw: You also wrote “I don’t know if God can directly create.” And yet you believe he can create a whole universe, and preprogramme or dabble all the innovations that lead to new species, plus all the different lifestyles and natural wonders. Is this “totally reasonable”?

My point is that within biological creation, I don't know if he can instantly produce a new organism in toto or He requires evolution. That view is reaonable.

DAVID: I view God as much more serious than you do. My view of his personality is not yours which is always trying to humanize Him.


So you are not humanizing him when you tell us that he is too serious to want to create a spectacle, and he wants us to think of him. Any non-human theories as to why he wants us to think of him?

dhw: The issue is whether your approach and my approach to what he produced (if he exists) result in a coherent hypothesis. You admit that yours is not logical (because it raises questions you can’t answer) and that mine is, because it answers those questions.

DAVID: Yours fits the history we observe, which is not proof of anything. I start with God's purpose. You don't. Do you see purpose and try to explain God from that position?

dhw: Nothing can be proven. Clearly you do indeed start with what you insist is God’s purpose (the production of Homo sapiens’ brain). Then you try to mould what we observe so that it will fit that purpose, and by your own admission it doesn’t.

Neat trick. Your interpretation of my thoughts: "by your own admission it doesn’t" is your interpretation, not mine. I've explained everything satisfactorily for me, if not for you.

I start with the world we observe, and try to extrapolate purpose from that. And you admit that the purpose I extrapolate fits the history.

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by dhw, Thursday, October 12, 2017, 13:58 (40 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Once again, God uses the process of evolution. We don't, since we don't know how life began, we don't know if God created life all at once or in several stages as the OOL theorists try to tell us.
dhw: You also wrote “I don’t know if God can directly create.” And yet you believe he can create a whole universe, and preprogramme or dabble all the innovations that lead to new species, plus all the different lifestyles and natural wonders. Is this “totally reasonable”?
DAVID: My point is that within biological creation, I don't know if he can instantly produce a new organism in toto or He requires evolution. That view is reaonable.

So we are back to a God whose powers may be limited. And that still doesn’t solve the problem of why he preprogrammed or dabbled eight stages of whale when his prime purpose was to produce the brain of Homo sapiens.

DAVID: I view God as much more serious than you do. My view of his personality is not yours which is always trying to humanize Him.
Dhw: So you are not humanizing him when you tell us that he is too serious to want to create a spectacle, and he wants us to think of him. Any non-human theories as to why he wants us to think of him?

I notice you have not answered this.

dhw: The issue is whether your approach and my approach to what he produced (if he exists) result in a coherent hypothesis. You admit that yours is not logical (because it raises questions you can’t answer) and that mine is, because it answers those questions.
DAVID: Yours fits the history we observe, which is not proof of anything. I start with God's purpose. You don't. Do you see purpose and try to explain God from that position?
dhw: Nothing can be proven. Clearly you do indeed start with what you insist is God’s purpose (the production of Homo sapiens’ brain). Then you try to mould what we observe so that it will fit that purpose, and by your own admission it doesn’t.
DAVID: Neat trick. Your interpretation of my thoughts: "by your own admission it doesn’t" is your interpretation, not mine. I've explained everything satisfactorily for me, if not for you.

Over and over again I have asked you questions relating to your hypothesis (see below), and over and over again you have admitted that you can’t answer them, e.g. 1st October, under “Evolution, survival and adaptation”: “My not delving into your thought processes of God’s purposes is I find many of your questions unanswerable as I have stated.” If you are satisfied by an explanation that raises unanswerable questions, and are happy to reject an explanation which, by your own agreement, answers all the questions you cannot answer, then so be it.

DAVID: I start with the world we observe...

It’s true that you have always claimed this, and so perhaps your statement above that you “start with God’s purpose” was just a Freudian slip, but I think it’s more accurate. You have made up your mind that God’s purpose was to produce Homo sapiens’ brain, and then you try to manipulate the history of life to suit your conclusion.

DAVID: ... and try to extrapolate purpose from that. And you admit that the purpose I extrapolate fits the history.

I absolutely do not! I can find no logic in your belief that your God personally preprogrammed and/or dabbled eight stages of whale, the weaverbird’s nest, the toxin-eating snake etc. in order to keep life going until he could fulfil his prime purpose of producing Homo sapiens’ brain. And I find no logic in your belief that your God remains hidden and watches us with interest, with the purpose of having a relationship with us, but his way of watching and his interest and his concept of a relationship are not what we mean by watching, interest and relationship. And I find no logic in your belief that one moment he is all-powerful and the next moment his powers may be limited. Need I go on?

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by David Turell @, Thursday, October 12, 2017, 14:34 (40 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: I view God as much more serious than you do. My view of his personality is not yours which is always trying to humanize Him.
Dhw: So you are not humanizing him when you tell us that he is too serious to want to create a spectacle, and he wants us to think of him. Any non-human theories as to why he wants us to think of him?

dhw: I notice you have not answered this.

Of course we have to speak of his personality in our human terms, but I'll stick to Adler's terminology, a person like no other person.


DAVID: I start with the world we observe...

dhw: It’s true that you have always claimed this, and so perhaps your statement above that you “start with God’s purpose” was just a Freudian slip, but I think it’s more accurate. You have made up your mind that God’s purpose was to produce Homo sapiens’ brain, and then you try to manipulate the history of life to suit your conclusion.

Sequence of my thoughts: evolution requires responses to challenges to survival. The human brain appeared for no obvious reason, compared to ape survival. The human brain is the most complex object in the universe. Not a Freudian slip. I see the purpose.


DAVID: ... and try to extrapolate purpose from that. And you admit that the purpose I extrapolate fits the history.

dhw: I absolutely do not! I can find no logic in your belief that your God personally preprogrammed and/or dabbled eight stages of whale, the weaverbird’s nest, the toxin-eating snake etc. in order to keep life going until he could fulfil his prime purpose of producing Homo sapiens’ brain. And I find no logic in your belief that your God remains hidden and watches us with interest, with the purpose of having a relationship with us, but his way of watching and his interest and his concept of a relationship are not what we mean by watching, interest and relationship. And I find no logic in your belief that one moment he is all-powerful and the next moment his powers may be limited. Need I go on?

Faith may not be logical to you.

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by dhw, Friday, October 13, 2017, 10:57 (39 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: I view God as much more serious than you do. My view of his personality is not yours which is always trying to humanize Him.
Dhw: So you are not humanizing him when you tell us that he is too serious to want to create a spectacle, and he wants us to think of him. Any non-human theories as to why he wants us to think of him?
DAVID: Of course we have to speak of his personality in our human terms, but I'll stick to Adler's terminology, a person like no other person.

“He’s a person like no other person” is a cop-out. Your God watches with interest, but is too “serious” to want a spectacle, and wants us to think of him but stays hidden because...um... – all this is every bit as human as my own hypothesis, so please don’t use “humanization” as an excuse for rejecting it.

DAVID: I start with the world we observe...
dhw: It’s true that you have always claimed this, and so perhaps your statement above that you “start with God’s purpose” was just a Freudian slip, but I think it’s more accurate. You have made up your mind that God’s purpose was to produce Homo sapiens’ brain, and then you try to manipulate the history of life to suit your conclusion.
DAVID: Sequence of my thoughts: evolution requires responses to challenges to survival. The human brain appeared for no obvious reason, compared to ape survival. The human brain is the most complex object in the universe. Not a Freudian slip. I see the purpose.

1) You said you started with God’s purpose, but you meant to say you start with the world you observe. You can’t have two different starting points.
2) Nobody knows why pre-humans descended from the trees, but it is perfectly feasible that they did so in response to local environmental challenges, as opposed to your God fiddling with their anatomy in advance.
3) Every multicellular organism, including apes, humans, whales, and weaverbirds appeared for no obvious reason, because bacteria have survived from the start. My hypothesis adds the drive for improvement to that for survival.
4) You believe in common descent, but that does not mean each new species results in other related species disappearing or following the new example. Humans and apes branched off from their common ancestor, and both went their own way.
5) The human brain is the most complex object in the world we know. (I’m afraid I don’t have access to the whole universe.) But that does not mean your God specially designed the eight stages of whale and the weaverbird’s nest in order to keep life going until he could produce it.

DAVID: ... you admit that the purpose I extrapolate fits the history.
dhw: I absolutely do not! (I then listed some of your “purposes” that I find illogical.)
DAVID: Faith may not be logical to you.

I explained to you why I do NOT admit that the purpose you extrapolate fits the history. You have no answers to my questions, and so of course your faith in the hypotheses I listed earlier does not seem logical to me. You are (quite rightly) happy enough to use logic to justify your faith in a designer. Why do you suddenly find logic unnecessary when it comes to your personal theory of God’s intentions and methods?

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by David Turell @, Friday, October 13, 2017, 18:37 (38 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Of course we have to speak of his personality in our human terms, but I'll stick to Adler's terminology, a person like no other person.

dhw: “He’s a person like no other person” is a cop-out. Your God watches with interest, but is too “serious” to want a spectacle, and wants us to think of him but stays hidden because...um... – all this is every bit as human as my own hypothesis, so please don’t use “humanization” as an excuse for rejecting it.

Adler's statement is obviously true. God is NOT like us. I an only guess at His reactions to His own works. So I make human guesses, but I always carefully think, He is not human!

DAVID: Sequence of my thoughts: evolution requires responses to challenges to survival. The human brain appeared for no obvious reason, compared to ape survival. The human brain is the most complex object in the universe. Not a Freudian slip. I see the purpose.

dhw: 1) You said you started with God’s purpose, but you meant to say you start with the world you observe. You can’t have two different starting points.

Of course I can! I start by looking at works with purpose in mind

dhw: 2) Nobody knows why pre-humans descended from the trees, but it is perfectly feasible that they did so in response to local environmental challenges, as opposed to your God fiddling with their anatomy in advance.

But He did fiddle. There were lumbar changes in a 23 million year old monkey, remember?

dhw: 3) Every multicellular organism, including apes, humans, whales, and weaverbirds appeared for no obvious reason, because bacteria have survived from the start. My hypothesis adds the drive for improvement to that for survival.

Your statement about 'survival' is a suspect thesis. It is not proven. Complexification or your statement 'improvement' are more to the point.

dhw: 5) The human brain is the most complex object in the world we know. (I’m afraid I don’t have access to the whole universe.) But that does not mean your God specially designed the eight stages of whale and the weaverbird’s nest in order to keep life going until he could produce it.

It is obvious God uses evolutionary processes to achieve His goals. Everything we know about evolved from a beginning, even if we do not understand the beginnings of the universe or origin on life. Sorry you can't seem to see that. Evolution take time. Complexity of the brain implies purpose to me.


DAVID: Faith may not be logical to you.

dhw: I explained to you why I do NOT admit that the purpose you extrapolate fits the history. You have no answers to my questions, and so of course your faith in the hypotheses I listed earlier does not seem logical to me. You are (quite rightly) happy enough to use logic to justify your faith in a designer. Why do you suddenly find logic unnecessary when it comes to your personal theory of God’s intentions and methods?

Because your logic about God does not understand that He is not human, and cannot be subject to human logic..

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by dhw, Saturday, October 14, 2017, 13:03 (38 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Of course we have to speak of his personality in our human terms, but I'll stick to Adler's terminology, a person like no other person.
dhw: “He’s a person like no other person” is a cop-out. Your God watches with interest, but is too “serious” to want a spectacle, and wants us to think of him but stays hidden because...um... – all this is every bit as human as my own hypothesis, so please don’t use “humanization” as an excuse for rejecting it.
DAVID: Adler's statement is obviously true. God is NOT like us. I an only guess at His reactions to His own works. So I make human guesses, but I always carefully think, He is not human!

If God exists, of course he’s not human! I don’t imagine him as an old man with a beard. But if, as you keep telling us, our consciousness is part of his consciousness, and he wants a relationship with us, and he has purpose, and, as the Bible tells us, he made us in his image, it is far from improbable that our consciousness bears similarities to his consciousness. You have every right to make “human guesses”. So do I. You “carefully think”? You may be surprised to hear that I do too. Your careful thoughts do not fit the history we know. As you keep acknowledging, mine do.

DAVID: Sequence of my thoughts: evolution requires responses to challenges to survival. The human brain appeared for no obvious reason, compared to ape survival. The human brain is the most complex object in the universe. Not a Freudian slip. I see the purpose.
dhw: 1)You said you started with God’s purpose, but you meant to say you start with the world you observe. You can’t have two different starting points.
DAVID: Of course I can! I start by looking at works with purpose in mind.

Either you start by looking at the history and extrapolate the purpose, or you start with the purpose and try to manipulate the history. You said you started with God’s purpose, but no doubt you meant to say you started with God’s works and then tried to extrapolate his purpose. Minor point.

dhw: 2) Nobody knows why pre-humans descended from the trees, but it is perfectly feasible that they did so in response to local environmental challenges, as opposed to your God fiddling with their anatomy in advance.
DAVID: But He did fiddle. There were lumbar changes in a 23 million year old monkey, remember?

Maybe the 23-million-year-old monkey was the first to descend from its local trees.

dhw: 3) Every multicellular organism, including apes, humans, whales, and weaverbirds appeared for no obvious reason, because bacteria have survived from the start. My hypothesis adds the drive for improvement to that for survival.
DAVID: Your statement about 'survival' is a suspect thesis. It is not proven. Complexification or your statement 'improvement' are more to the point.

You wrote: “evolution requires responses to challenges to survival”. I’m sorry you don’t agree with yourself. But I agree that ‘improvement’ is more to the point when it comes to innovations, though it is sometimes difficult to draw the line between the two. (Improvement can be related to chances of survival as well as to opportunities provided by environmental change.)

dhw: 5) The human brain is the most complex object in the world we know. (I’m afraid I don’t have access to the whole universe.) But that does not mean your God specially designed the eight stages of whale and the weaverbird’s nest in order to keep life going until he could produce it.
DAVID: It is obvious God uses evolutionary processes to achieve His goals.

If God exists, then of course you are right. The question mark is over your personal interpretation of his goals. If his prime goal was the production of the brain of Homo sapiens, why did he bother to design eight stages of whale and the weaverbird’s nest?

DAVID: Everything we know about evolved from a beginning, even if we do not understand the beginnings of the universe or origin on life. Sorry you can't seem to see that. Evolution take time. Complexity of the brain implies purpose to me.

What on earth gives you the impression that I can’t see that there must have been a beginning? Or that evolution has taken 3.8 billion years so far (or whatever may be the true figure), no matter what its goal might be? It is the beginning that we can’t explain, and hence my openness to the possibility of a God. Complexity of the brain fits is perfectly well with the purpose of organisms to improve themselves.

DAVID: Faith may not be logical to you.
dhw: I explained to you why I do NOT admit that the purpose you extrapolate fits the history. You have no answers to my questions, and so of course your faith in the hypotheses I listed earlier does not seem logical to me. You are (quite rightly) happy enough to use logic to justify your faith in a designer. Why do you suddenly find logic unnecessary when it comes to your personal theory of God’s intentions and methods?
DAVID: Because your logic about God does not understand that He is not human, and cannot be subject to human logic.

See above. If he exists, he can't be human, but there is no reason to suppose that we do NOT have certain attributes in common with him. Your hypothesis that “He wants us to think about him” is no less human than my hypothesis that he created a spectacle for himself.

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by David Turell @, Saturday, October 14, 2017, 15:15 (37 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Adler's statement is obviously true. God is NOT like us. I an only guess at His reactions to His own works. So I make human guesses, but I always carefully think, He is not human!

If God exists, of course he’s not human! I don’t imagine him as an old man with a beard. But if, as you keep telling us, our consciousness is part of his consciousness, and he wants a relationship with us, and he has purpose, and, as the Bible tells us, he made us in his image, it is far from improbable that our consciousness bears similarities to his consciousness. You have every right to make “human guesses”. So do I. You “carefully think”? You may be surprised to hear that I do too. Your careful thoughts do not fit the history we know. As you keep acknowledging, mine do.

Of course you carefully think. Of course His consciousness must be somewhat similar to ours. My theory fits the facts of history just as yours does. My view from purpose does not fit your concepts. So be it.


dhw: 3) Every multicellular organism, including apes, humans, whales, and weaverbirds appeared for no obvious reason, because bacteria have survived from the start. My hypothesis adds the drive for improvement to that for survival.

DAVID: Your statement about 'survival' is a suspect thesis. It is not proven. Complexification or your statement 'improvement' are more to the point.

dhw: You wrote: “evolution requires responses to challenges to survival”. I’m sorry you don’t agree with yourself. But I agree that ‘improvement’ is more to the point when it comes to innovations, though it is sometimes difficult to draw the line between the two. (Improvement can be related to chances of survival as well as to opportunities provided by environmental change.)

Your parenthetical sentence is right on point.


dhw: 5) The human brain is the most complex object in the world we know. (I’m afraid I don’t have access to the whole universe.) But that does not mean your God specially designed the eight stages of whale and the weaverbird’s nest in order to keep life going until he could produce it.
DAVID: It is obvious God uses evolutionary processes to achieve His goals.

dhw: If God exists, then of course you are right. The question mark is over your personal interpretation of his goals. If his prime goal was the production of the brain of Homo sapiens, why did he bother to design eight stages of whale and the weaverbird’s nest?

We back to arguing about balance of nature which you accept and reject at the same time.


DAVID: Everything we know about evolved from a beginning, even if we do not understand the beginnings of the universe or origin on life. Sorry you can't seem to see that. Evolution take time. Complexity of the brain implies purpose to me.

dhw: What on earth gives you the impression that I can’t see that there must have been a beginning? Or that evolution has taken 3.8 billion years so far (or whatever may be the true figure), no matter what its goal might be? It is the beginning that we can’t explain, and hence my openness to the possibility of a God. Complexity of the brain fits is perfectly well with the purpose of organisms to improve themselves.

And what gives inanimate organisms the ability to improve themselves?


DAVID: Faith may not be logical to you.

dhw: I explained to you why I do NOT admit that the purpose you extrapolate fits the history. You have no answers to my questions,

I have answers you do not accept, but satisfy me, which led to faith.

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by dhw, Sunday, October 15, 2017, 09:01 (37 days ago) @ David Turell

These posts are getting very long, so I am editing them in order to pinpoint the main issues.

DAVID: Adler's statement is obviously true. God is NOT like us. […] He is not human!
Dhw: If God exists, of course he’s not human! I don’t imagine him as an old man with a beard. But if, as you keep telling us, our consciousness is part of his consciousness, and he wants a relationship with us, and he has purpose, and, as the Bible tells us, he made us in his image, it is far from improbable that our consciousness bears similarities to his consciousness.
DAVID: Of course His consciousness must be somewhat similar to ours. [...]

If “of course his consciousness must be somewhat similar to ours”, then your statement “God is NOT like us” clearly doesn’t refer to his consciousness, and so it is perfectly legitimate to extrapolate from his works what you like to call “humanizing” attributes. It is not legitimate, however, to dismiss my speculations because they “humanize” God, while at the same time offering your own “humanizing” speculations.

dhw: Every multicellular organism, including apes, humans, whales, and weaverbirds appeared for no obvious reason, because bacteria have survived from the start. My hypothesis adds the drive for improvement to that for survival.
DAVID: Your statement about 'survival' is a suspect thesis.
dhw: You wrote: “evolution requires responses to challenges to survival”. I’m sorry you don’t agree with yourself. But I agree that ‘improvement’ is more to the point when it comes to innovations, though it is sometimes difficult to draw the line between the two. (Improvement can be related to chances of survival as well as to opportunities provided by environmental change.)
DAVID: Your parenthetical sentence is right on point.

Therefore your statement that my statement about ‘survival’ is a suspect thesis is right off point.

DAVID: And what gives inanimate organisms the ability to improve themselves?

I presume you mean animate organisms. There would be no point in having the intelligence to improve if they didn’t have the ability to do it! Your God may have designed the whole mechanism.

DAVID: It is obvious God uses evolutionary processes to achieve His goals.
dhw: If God exists, then of course you are right. The question mark is over your personal interpretation of his goals. If his prime goal was the production of the brain of Homo sapiens, why did he bother to design eight stages of whale and the weaverbird’s nest?
DAVID: We back to arguing about balance of nature which you accept and reject at the same time.

I accept that so long as there is life, there must be some kind of balance to enable living creatures to survive. That balance has constantly changed. I do not accept that your God specially designed eight stages of whale, the weaverbird’s nest, and a toxin-swallowing snake in order to keep different life forms coming and going (= the ever changing balance of nature) until he could fulfil his prime purpose of producing the human brain.

dhw: I explained to you why I do NOT admit that the purpose you extrapolate fits the history. You have no answers to my questions.
DAVID: I have answers you do not accept, but satisfy me, which led to faith.

Over and over again you have admitted you do NOT have the answers. I gave you a quote a couple of days ago: “Evolution, survival and adaptation”, 1 October at 14.37:
My not delving into your thought processes of God’s purposes is I find many of your questions unanswerable as I have stated....” Here’s another from the same post, referring to my guesses: “Yours make me think, but if I have no answer to your questions, it is generally because I don’t see how to reach one I can believe.” But you believe in a guess that raises questions you can’t answer! My guess answers all those questions, to which you can only reply that God’s logic is different from ours. Maybe it isn’t.

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by David Turell @, Sunday, October 15, 2017, 15:12 (36 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Of course His consciousness must be somewhat similar to ours. [...]

dhw: If “of course his consciousness must be somewhat similar to ours”, then your statement “God is NOT like us” clearly doesn’t refer to his consciousness, and so it is perfectly legitimate to extrapolate from his works what you like to call “humanizing” attributes. It is not legitimate, however, to dismiss my speculations because they “humanize” God, while at the same time offering your own “humanizing” speculations.

We are arguing over a mater of degree. The mechanism of his consciousness is similar, but the thought content may be entirely different.

dhw: But I agree that ‘improvement’ is more to the point when it comes to innovations, though it is sometimes difficult to draw the line between the two. (Improvement can be related to chances of survival as well as to opportunities provided by environmental change.)[/i]
DAVID: Your parenthetical sentence is right on point.

dhw: Therefore your statement that my statement about ‘survival’ is a suspect thesis is right off point.

Not so. As stated before the 'survival of the fittest' concept is circular reasoning.


DAVID: And what gives inanimate organisms the ability to improve themselves?

dhw: I presume you mean animate organisms. There would be no point in having the intelligence to improve if they didn’t have the ability to do it! Your God may have designed the whole mechanism.

I mean inanimate. I view early living cells as inanimate. You are again offering God in charge, but in a secondary way. Fudge factor.


DAVID: We back to arguing about balance of nature which you accept and reject at the same time.

dhw: I accept that so long as there is life, there must be some kind of balance to enable living creatures to survive. That balance has constantly changed. I do not accept that your God specially designed eight stages of whale, the weaverbird’s nest, and a toxin-swallowing snake in order to keep different life forms coming and going (= the ever changing balance of nature) until he could fulfil his prime purpose of producing the human brain.

Which gets us back to the observation, if God created life, starting with inorganic matter, why didn't He just produce humans with their brains? He chose to evolve them. The question you should answer is was evolution chosen or required? I pick chosen.


dhw: I explained to you why I do NOT admit that the purpose you extrapolate fits the history. You have no answers to my questions.
DAVID: I have answers you do not accept, but satisfy me, which led to faith.

dhw: Over and over again you have admitted you do NOT have the answers. I gave you a quote a couple of days ago: “Evolution, survival and adaptation”, 1 October at 14.37:
My not delving into your thought processes of God’s purposes is I find many of your questions unanswerable as I have stated....” Here’s another from the same post, referring to my guesses: “Yours make me think, but if I have no answer to your questions, it is generally because I don’t see how to reach one I can believe.” But you believe in a guess that raises questions you can’t answer! My guess answers all those questions, to which you can only reply that God’s logic is different from ours. Maybe it isn’t.

I'm the guy who presented the whales. I see what seems unreasonable, but find what I think are reasonable answers, such as balance of nature in the oceans. Balance of nature is feeding homeostasis, a continuous process as you admit. Life itself in all organisms is a continuous homeostasis or it can't continue. It requires a continuous biochemical mechanism of struggle to maintain everything in a body in upper and lower limits of a normal range.

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by dhw, Monday, October 16, 2017, 13:45 (36 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Of course His consciousness must be somewhat similar to ours. [...]
dhw: If “of course his consciousness must be somewhat similar to ours”, then your statement “God is NOT like us” clearly doesn’t refer to his consciousness. […]
DAVID: We are arguing over a mater of degree. The mechanism of his consciousness is similar, but the thought content may be entirely different.

Do you really think we are talking about mechanisms? (What mechanism anyway? I thought your God was pure energy). The subject of this discussion is purpose, i.e. your God’s intentions, i.e. thought content. You speculate that your God’s prime purpose was to produce the brain of Homo sapiens so that we would think of him. (Earlier, it was so that we could have a relationship with him.) You attack my suggestion that he created a spectacle for himself as “humanizing”. It is no more “humanizing” than your own suggestions.

dhw: My hypothesis adds the drive for improvement to that for survival.
DAVID: Your statement about ‘survival’ is a suspect thesis.
dhw: […] (Improvement can be related to chances of survival as well as to opportunities provided by environmental change.)
DAVID: Your parenthetical sentence is right on point.
dhw: Therefore your statement that my statement about ‘survival’ is a suspect thesis is right off point.
DAVID: Not so. As stated before the 'survival of the fittest' concept is circular reasoning.

I agree, but that was not the point we were discussing. You quite rightly wrote that “evolution requires responses to challenges for survival”. Of course it does, and I added the drive for improvement, which can mean improving chances of survival as well as taking advantage of new opportunities provided by environmental change. What is "suspect” about that?

DAVID: And what gives inanimate organisms the ability to improve themselves?
dhw: I presume you mean animate organisms. There would be no point in having the intelligence to improve if they didn’t have the ability to do it! Your God may have designed the whole mechanism.
DAVID: I mean inanimate. I view early living cells as inanimate. You are again offering God in charge, but in a secondary way. Fudge factor.

Inanimate means without life, so I don’t know how living cells can be without life. There is no fudge in my hypothesis that your God deliberately created a mechanism that would enable organisms to improve themselves.

DAVID: We back to arguing about balance of nature which you accept and reject at the same time.

dhw: I accept that so long as there is life, there must be some kind of balance to enable living creatures to survive. That balance has constantly changed. I do not accept that your God specially designed eight stages of whale, the weaverbird’s nest, and a toxin-swallowing snake in order to keep different life forms coming and going (= the ever changing balance of nature) until he could fulfil his prime purpose of producing the human brain.
DAVID: Which gets us back to the observation, if God created life, starting with inorganic matter, why didn't He just produce humans with their brains? He chose to evolve them. The question you should answer is was evolution chosen or required? I pick chosen.

I suggest that if exists, he didn’t WANT to “just produce humans with their brains”. He wanted or "chose" to create a process that would lead to the ever changing higgledy-piggledy bush of dinosaurs, whales, weaverbirds’ nests, toxin-producing snakes and the whole vast variety, including humans. But he may have done an occasional dabble.

dhw: I explained to you why I do NOT admit that the purpose you extrapolate fits the history. You have no answers to my questions. […]
DAVID: I'm the guy who presented the whales. I see what seems unreasonable, but find what I think are reasonable answers, such as balance of nature in the oceans. Balance of nature is feeding homeostasis, a continuous process as you admit. Life itself in all organisms is a continuous homeostasis or it can't continue. It requires a continuous biochemical mechanism of struggle to maintain everything in a body in upper and lower limits of a normal range.

You are merely repeating what I have said above: all forms of life require some sort of balance (homeostasis), or life can’t go on. The balance constantly changes. That is true whether there are humans or not. If there had been no whales, there would have been a different balance. Nothing whatsoever to do with God’s prime purpose being the production of Homo sapiens’ brain. You know “balance of nature” does not answer the questions thrown up by the illogicalities of your hypothesis, and that is why you keep admitting that you have no answers.

Evolution and humans: all over Africa

by David Turell @, Monday, October 16, 2017, 15:07 (35 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: You speculate that your God’s prime purpose was to produce the brain of Homo sapiens so that we would think of him. (Earlier, it was so that we could have a relationship with him.) You attack my suggestion that he created a spectacle for himself as “humanizing”. It is no more “humanizing” than your own suggestions.

Spectacle is pure humanizing. Look at our history: from gladiators in ancient Rome to cricket to soccer today we create sports for entertainment. What if God is pure purpose. More logical than your humanizing approach.

DAVID: Not so. As stated before the 'survival of the fittest' concept is circular reasoning.

dhw: I agree, but that was not the point we were discussing. You quite rightly wrote that “evolution requires responses to challenges for survival”. Of course it does, and I added the drive for improvement, which can mean improving chances of survival as well as taking advantage of new opportunities provided by environmental change. What is "suspect” about that?

What I see in the history of evolution is over-improvement. First multicellularity. The in humans such as our hand ability, our brain. Therefore a drive to complexity. If 99% of all have disappeared, survival is not a major point, just Darwin's supposition.

DAVID: I mean inanimate. I view early living cells as inanimate. You are again offering God in charge, but in a secondary way. Fudge factor.

dhw: Inanimate means without life, so I don’t know how living cells can be without life. There is no fudge in my hypothesis that your God deliberately created a mechanism that would enable organisms to improve themselves.

I used inanimate in the sense of mentation. You are strictly right. The fudge is God's secondary mechanism in your hypothesis is still God in control.

DAVID: I'm the guy who presented the whales. I see what seems unreasonable, but find what I think are reasonable answers, such as balance of nature in the oceans. Balance of nature is feeding homeostasis, a continuous process as you admit. Life itself in all organisms is a continuous homeostasis or it can't continue. It requires a continuous biochemical mechanism of struggle to maintain everything in a body in upper and lower limits of a normal range.

dhw: You are merely repeating what I have said above: all forms of life require some sort of balance (homeostasis), or life can’t go on. The balance constantly changes. That is true whether there are humans or not. If there had been no whales, there would have been a different balance. Nothing whatsoever to do with God’s prime purpose being the production of Homo sapiens’ br