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Comment: Re:Falsifiability (Score 1) 175

by Artifakt (#48230233) Attached to: High Speed Evolution

In Biology, there's the concept of Stochastic Mutation. It's most commonly attributed to viruses, for example HIV is a known stochastic mutator. In these cases, some (not all, just some), types of cell mutations occur, where there's no selection pressure - the virus changes its protein coat in one of several ways (4 for HIV), and type B is just as likely to mutate back to type A or into Type C or D, as to stick where its at. In equilibrium, none of the protein coats is preferred by natural selection, and there's no pressure for one type to come to dominate. HIV also undergoes non-stochastic mutations, just like (we think) everything else with a genetic code does, and stochastic mutation has been studied for many other viruses and probably happens in more complex species.

          That's the point - evolution is essentially a two part theory, a synthesis of Mendel's genetics including mutation, and Darwin's natural selection. Cases where all the organisms subject to selection pressure are identical, are not evolution*, and cases where the organisms are not identical but there's no selection pressure applied are not evolution either, and so there really are at least two categories of biological change which are not evolutionary. It's just that 'cases where there's no selection pressure' pretty much discribes some sort of paradise where nothing dies or is limited in how often it reproduces, so there are not a whole lot of known examples of that, especially over a long term, and it would be pretty expensive to create such an environment over a short term.

* If you had some organisms, and they have 0% chance of mutating in the particular way that responds to that particular selection pressure, then you could say that they are identical in that respect. Imagine for example a bunch of Leopards suddenly introduced to an environment where there are abundant fish in deep subsurface pools which can only be reached through narrow fissures. There's really no selection pressure sufficient for those Leopards to start adapting into creatures that can squeeze through six inch wide cracks and use their gills to dive deep enough to catch those tasty fish. All the Leopards are effectively identical, in that they are identically unsuited to take advantage of the new factor in their environment, tasty deep dwelling cave fish. However, I get a feeling you would reject generalizing that sort of example into one of the cases such as you are asking for, so let's just stick to Stochastic Mutation

Comment: Re:Falsifiability (Score 1) 175

by Artifakt (#48230061) Attached to: High Speed Evolution

Darwin himself was careful to specify what he was arguing for - His first book was, after all "On the Origin of Species", not "On the Origin of Life". His theory is about how existing life divides into distinct groups, and (in a modern version of his phrasings), why species are 'distinguishabe sets with fuzzy boundries', and doesn't really touch on where the first life forms came from, one way or another. We could start from some assumed single primative life form, or imagine a world where there was somehow only one very complex life form, say existing as millions of identical clones, and speciation would still occur, and the mix of species, once formed, would still change over time, according to the theory.

Darwin made predictions which were testable, and could have been falsified - for just one, there's a prediction that the genetic code (unknown at the time), wouldn't allow unlimited blending of traits (Mendel published the first proof of this as a general fact, and Crick and Watson's work in actually discovering the code confirmed it was the sort of coding that didn't allow blendable traits). One problem I see with the "anti-evolutionists", is they keep talking like 'testability' means we have to have two copies of Earth and run the great experiment twice, or there's no testability at all, when a little real familiarity with Darwin's work reveals lots of testable predictions of the same sorts we see in many other works of science. It's sort of like how early critics of Special Relativity dismissed the 1919 solar eclipse test as not sufficient by itself, and people who wanted to reject Relativity on any and all grounds turned that into its not being a test at all in popular discussions. I suspect there's real debate needed about just what the limits of the Theory of Evolution's predictions are, but those debates need to be among people who know what the theory does or doesn't predict, what testability itself means, and other fundamental ideas.

Comment: Re:Falsifiability (Score 3, Insightful) 175

by Artifakt (#48229885) Attached to: High Speed Evolution

It's not quite that simple, but you could probably simplify it to a few basic steps, like:
Is there a coding mechanism for heredity? - Yes, the genetic code.
Is there a way to generate new code? - Yes, mutation.
Does that code allow unlimited blending? - No, if it did the two sexes would completely blur together, among many other lesser examples.
Is there selection for fitness? - Yes, not everything gets to reproduce as much as it attempts to, and at least some of that is attributable to being "unfit".

Basically, people can point to examples where limited blurring may occur, or being taken out of the gene pool may have nothing to do with fitness (all dinosaurs are equally unfit to survive a 5 mile wide asteroid strike), or many other such factors, but they aren't really offering any effective criticism of evolution unless they want to claim things like selection or mutation never happen.

This is also why what Darwin did was science. His publication made several testable predictions - that there would be a genetic code, that the code could be altered on occasion, and that it would not allow unlimited blending of traits.

Comment: Re:Bring back Bennett!! (Score 1) 119

by TheRaven64 (#48228577) Attached to: OwnCloud Dev Requests Removal From Ubuntu Repos Over Security Holes
Bennett has been posting these long ramblings since a very long time before Dice bought Slashdot. Unfortunately, I think that your complaints are not likely to be heard because Slashdot seems to have had a policy for a long time of not recruiting editors from people who regularly read the site...

Comment: Re:Is Microsoft a company? (Score 4, Informative) 168

by TheRaven64 (#48228563) Attached to: Ballmer Says Amazon Isn't a "Real Business"
You might want to read some news from the last decade. Microsoft started paying dividends in 2003 and has paid them annually. When they started, investors were unhappy because it showed that they no longer thought that the best thing to do to increase value was to invest the money in the company.

Comment: Re:Wow (Score 4, Informative) 168

by TheRaven64 (#48228551) Attached to: Ballmer Says Amazon Isn't a "Real Business"
You're a decade out. Microsoft's initial success was Microsoft BASIC, which was actually pretty good, back in the '70s. IBM wanted them to port BASIC to the PC and, when their negotiations for CP/M as the OS fell through, asked MS to write them an OS too. MS bought QDOS and rebranded it (and there was a lawsuit later about this, so it's probably the first instance of interesting business practices by MS). They also sold MS DOS to PC clone makers, which helped cement them in the market. At the time, there were a number of MS DOS clones that were better, but they made their other products depend on their own version to force others out of the market. By the '90s, with Windows 3.0 only running on MS DOS, they were getting pretty good at it...

Comment: Re:IBM no longer a tech company? (Score 4, Insightful) 168

by TheRaven64 (#48228535) Attached to: Ballmer Says Amazon Isn't a "Real Business"

That's generally how Amazon operates. Lose money to establish a dominant market position, then start working out how to make that profitable. People used to comment that their business was to lose money on each sale, but make up for it in volume. It was a facetious comment, but with a grain of truth: Amazon couldn't afford to sell books the way that they did until they were selling enough that they could own a lot of distribution infrastructure and amortise the costs.

Ballmer isn't in any place to complain. The XBox and Zune followed the same model when he was MS CEO. It didn't work so well for the Zune, but the XBox spent years losing money before it had a sufficiently large market share to be profitable.

Comment: Re:Ugh! (Score 1) 270

by TheRaven64 (#48228299) Attached to: Days After Shooting, Canada Proposes New Restrictions On and Offline
But if he'd had a loaded gun, then after shooting him in the back with a shotgun then the attacker would have been able to upgrade his gun to something military issue (as we've all done in FPS games) and would have been a much more convincing threat when he got to Parliament. This omission has caused a lot of extra work for the PR folks trying to garner public support for removing more freedoms from the general public and so needs fixing before next time.

Comment: Re:Not a feminist issue. (Score 1) 544

by fyngyrz (#48220927) Attached to: The Inevitable Death of the Internet Troll

Being able to be offended is free speech

Troll. All you did here was invert my argument and then complain about it. I agree that the argument you made up is invalid.

That is not the equality which feminism is about.

Your entire sally was a troll, which is why I only gave it a one-line answer.

none of that is relevant to anything

What I said was relevant. What you said definitely was not.

Comment: Re:my thoughts (Score 4, Informative) 341

by Artifakt (#48219091) Attached to: NY Doctor Recently Back From West Africa Tests Positive For Ebola

Some types of mutation are fantastically unlikely - by one account, Ebola would have to mutate into a form that only weighs about 20% or even 10% of what it now does, change from a long, twisted rod to something more like a sphere, and switch the conditions it actually grows under from inside the bloodstream to in the alveolar structures of the lungs to become the sort of threat some people are worried about. There are big differences between viruses frequently mutating and that mutation leading to fast evolutionary selection, but I've tried to explain that on Slashdot too many times to keep hammering at that particular type of ignorance - some people just need to sit down and read a whole good college textbook on Evolution. It may be somewhat reasonable to worry that some mutation in the direction of drug resistance is likely, especially if we don't get this strain under control quickly, but some people are basically describing having a smallish frilled lizard sneak into the country on a piece of driftwood, and six months later, it's stomping buildings flat and breathing radioactive plasma on Mothra, and those same people are too busy spreading rumors to learn anything at all. As they panic at the drop of a hat, people who are actual experts (and not just armchair biology hackers like me) are getting very afraid to say anything at all, because when they give an honest answer that sholdn't cause panic, and might even be a bit reassuring, they expect to be misquoted as saying Ebola will make the Nemesis black hole wander into the inner solar system early and reverse all our magnetic poles, and Raptor riding Jesus will come back and eat our heads, so panic now and avoid the rush!!!

Comment: Re:Not so easy (Score 1) 213

by fyngyrz (#48219045) Attached to: Mark Zuckerberg Speaks Mandarin At Tsinghua University In Beijing

I didn't say you had to learn them. I said they were there. The implication -- true -- that there are many more to learn to get to higher levels of literacy. I also pointed out that 2000 was a specific level of literacy.

Try not to get too carried away with your imagination. Just read what I said. Not what you think I said.

As for a simplified character vocabulary, take a trip to Taiwan, why don't you. See how that works out for you.

Your experience is only your experience.

Anyway, whatever.

Comment: Re:When you are inside the box ... (Score 1) 274

by TheRaven64 (#48218897) Attached to: Assange: Google Is Not What It Seems

In China if you say "The Communist Party are a bunch of cock smoking douchebags," you can expect trouble. In Mandarin.

Unless you are part of a protest group (organised or not) with more than about 25K members, you probably won't. The Party knows that people blowing off steam are not a threat, but are easy to turn into people who are a threat.

Cobol programmers are down in the dumps.