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Comment: Re:Bad phrasing (Score 1) 138

by m.shenhav (#47597917) Attached to: Study: Dinosaurs "Shrank" Regularly To Become Birds
First of all, the phrasing can very well refer to cladel trends (this is how I would interpret it in a technical text), in which case it kinda makes sense (while being admittadly somewhat ambiguous) to speak of Dinosaurs shrinking. Second of all, I resent the implicit conflation of evolution with natural selection espoused by your last sentence. Yes, this is evolution. No, this does not automatically mean every phenomenon is explained by selection (despite what adaptationists try to sell you).

Comment: Re:Easier (Score 1) 106

by m.shenhav (#47280309) Attached to: Researchers Find "Achilles Heel" of Drug Resistant Bacteria
I completely agree; we need sane preventitive health measures to become a priority. It is well known that this is also where the most is to be gained. However - antibiotics are still nice to have for those very extreme and nasty cases. I just hope we start learning to use them only when they are really needed.

Comment: Re:Lamarck Vindicated? (Score 1) 160

by m.shenhav (#46285327) Attached to: Does Crime Leave a Genetic Trace?

It depends what you mean by Lamarckian evolution.

Lamarck's theory of evolution was teleological and argued that evolution tended towards complexity in a deterministic way. His inclusion of Soft Inheritance - inheritance of characteristics acquired during the lifetime of the organism - was peripheral and placed in order to explain adaptation of organisms to the environment. What was later called (perhaps misleadingly) (Neo)-Lamarckianism argued that most of the evolutionary phenomenology is best explained by a process where soft inheritance is predominant in frequency or even exclusive.

Now - the discovery of epigenetic mechanisms of soft inheritance has demonstrated a mechanism by which soft inheritance occurs but does not vindicate the theory that soft inheritance is significant in the evolutionary process. But I would not dismiss this type of inheritance as insignificant just because it is not altering the genetic sequence inside the chromosome; cultural inheritance of language is not genetic but is significant in humans.

Note the mistake Impy the Impiuos Imp made in assigning a specific genetic mechanism to Lamarckianism; the mechanisms of inheritance were not known when Lamarckianism was formulated, and when in the first half of the 20th century Mendel's work was rediscovered and genetic theory began to develop support for Lamarckian theories dropped. Few if any would support a contention that Lamarckian forces dominate evolution, but now we have mechanistic support for the idea that soft inheritance does play some role in evolution along with other forces.

Comment: the abstract doesn't mention finance at all (Score 1) 91

by m.shenhav (#44532549) Attached to: Bacteria Behaviour Can Shed Light On How Financial Markets Work
the Abstract:

"Understanding how populations and communities respond to competition is a central concern of ecology. A seminal theoretical solution first formalised by Levins (and re-derived in multiple fields) showed that, in theory, the form of a trade-off should determine the outcome of competition. While this has become a central postulate in ecology it has evaded experimental verification, not least because of substantial technical obstacles. We here solve the experimental problems by employing synthetic ecology. We engineer strains of Escherichia coli with fixed resource allocations enabling accurate measurement of trade-off shapes between bacterial survival and multiplication in multiple environments. A mathematical chemostat model predicts different, and experimentally verified, trajectories of gene frequency changes as a function of condition-specific trade-offs. The results support Levins' postulate and demonstrates that otherwise paradoxical alternative outcomes witnessed in subtly different conditions are predictable."

YES both biological and financial systems involve trade-off and evolutionary dynamics. NO those are still not necessarily good analogues for one another......

Comment: The Biological Perspective..... (Score 1) 161

by m.shenhav (#44083421) Attached to: The Men Trying To Save Us From the Machines
..... might be beneficial here - we can see technological evolution as something related to sociocultural evolution (the evolution of socially transmittable behaviors). The industrial revolution creating machines which produce copies of another artifact or even tool. Ours is a Technological and SocioCultural as well as Genetic Ecosystem with interdependency, and slowly we approach the point where some machines reproduce themselves - indeed if you see software as a virtual machine and GMOs as biotechnology than this is already happening.

Now all Ecosystems tend to have fragility; organic networks can also have fractal degree distributions with massive hub points which introduce the possibility of catastrophic tail events. Man made networks have had a tendency to be even more skewed distributions than other organic systems. So for me the intelligence of the technology is less relevant to its Virulence and its Evolutionary and Ecological impact on the Biosphere, Technosphere and Nusphere.

Comment: other tech can't replicate yet (Score 1) 95

by m.shenhav (#43652223) Attached to: Device Can Extract DNA With Full Genetic Data In Minutes
The main problem with your argument is - the only technology that can replicate itself these days is biotech. This and the incredibly low (and exponentially dropping) prices of this technology are the real reasons we must be far more cautious with biotechnology than other technologies. Sooner will a nutjob create a superbug in a garage lab than he would create skynet.

Comment: Re:Start working on your dissertation (Score 1) 228

by m.shenhav (#43129789) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Advice For Summer Before Ph.D. Program?
Sorry but that is some grade A B#!!$#!%. Some of the best ideas come in down time - procrastination is in fact a virtue. Giving yourself the space and time to read something outside your field, to do some sports, to dance and read poetry, have fun in whatever way you want - these are things that make you a better scholar. Being stressed 24/7 does not. I will avoid the rant about how a post like yours represents some of the things that are so screwed up about the current academic system.

Comment: Re:80% vs 20% (Score 1) 301

by m.shenhav (#43061079) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Software To Help Stay On Task?
Actually the 20-80 rule is much more widely applicable than sales alone. It reflects a certain fractal geometry in the distribution of many kinds of events. The name is a bit of a simplification - obviously often the distribution may be less or more extreme (like when 99.9% of all movement in a particular stock price occurs in 0.1% of the time it is traded).

Now - I can't cite a paper but a buddy of mine is an evolutionary psychologist who told me they estimate that in the ancestral environment, humans worked 3-4 hours a day. Max. The rest of the time was spent hanging around, eating or having sex. Such power law behavior seem to me to be present in several forms of human behavior - although to be fair this is pure speculation on my part.

Comment: Re:Science is the antithesis of religion... (Score 1) 528

by m.shenhav (#42807345) Attached to: Ask Dr. Robert Bakker About Dinosaurs and Merging Science and Religion
I have read the God Delusion. He does indeed say he is not attacking Spinoza's Pantheistic view, and that he can't refute the Deist god. But again he has a chiefly western and modern bias with regards to this stuff - so he exclude two or three western conception of god which really aren't much different than the Cartesian Mechanistic worldview, and than assumes all other gods are conceived as omniscient omnipotent and real (as opposed to metaphoric) beings. But this is not what I am talking about. On the outside many religions have a seemingly supernatural god, which upon further study is revealed to be a subjective experience of the ineffable. This is more like philosophy than religion (to those who have not studied religion much).

Religion is also able to discard old ideas - it is true that most don't do so nearly as quickly as science does, but again this probably serves and evolutionary function (in the Sociocultural Dual Inheritance sense). If you don't believe that statement you should have a look at the history of religion (not that I contend it always evolved in the right direction). I don't support the (organized, centralized) Church, not do I support the Academic system as it stands now. Both are full of Agency Problems and Dogmas; in science the dogma is methodological largely. Religion and Science are both like any other body of knowledge and skill, they can be used or abused.

Never say you know a man until you have divided an inheritance with him.