Review: Origin of Species, 6th edition

Origins impresses me as the labor of a supremely gifted naturalist unaware of his deficiencies as a scientist. His strategy to validate his claims is invariably to amass illustrations.  "To treat this subject properly a long list of dry facts ought to be given." "This subject... can be treated properly only by giving long catalogues of facts." The great mass of examples he provides  in support of his claims can tend to disguise the thinness of his arguments but it can't by itself validate them. Full review.

Evolution of a ventriloquist--sample audio file

I'm working up a ventriloquism performance. Volunteer to be an early tester? I've posted 30-minute audio file here. If you try it, please do tell me what you think of it--that's the deal. Respond to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Consciousness and the Social Brain, Michael Graziano, Review

"Awareness is a description of attention.… I use the word [attention] in a neuroscientific sense. I am referring to a mechanistic process in the brain.... According to the theory, the statement “X is conscious” means “a brain (or other computational device) constructed an informational model of consciousness and attributed it to X.” Thus begins my review of Graziano's book.

What to account for

What must a theory of evolution account for? Mulling over that I had a brief attack of vertigo. What are living creatures? Dizzyingly complex somethings, of which I know next to nothing. Yet that I must know before I can say how they evolve. Bodies are structured increasingly precisely down the the nano scale. They routinely grow from single cells to trillions of cells in tissues precisely structured over distances of up to dozens of feet. The matter in those tissues is turned over several times a year even as those tissues continue to function, without impairment of that function. Living creatures can manifest volition, can become conscious, and express their conscious thoughts in their behaviors. Can these various capabilities be imagined evolving separately, or should they all be accountable for in terms of a single process? Darwin's example won't help us here, he was concerned only with the origin of species. We are condemned by how much more we know to tackle much more daunting questions. So many centuries of study will it take even to begin to understand life that I feel like no more than a tiny ant questioning the origin of the solar system.

I hope I feel better tomorrow. Can anyone help me?

A physicalist or a dualist theory of evolution?

As someone who in his early manhood was a physicalist, I know how it feels, that rapture of seeing everything as purely physical, even ourselves, even how all of nature evolved. But in middle age I settled for the common-sense view of ourselves as “volitional” creatures, so now I’d prefer a theory of evolution in accordance with common-sense dualism. We can account for evolution with either a physicalist or a dualist theory, the choice is really one of temperament. But when the temperamental divide is as wide as that between physicalists and dualists it’s hard to reach agreement. So I propose we negotiate. Like this:

Majority welcomes alternatives to Darwin

In our poll to the right, 22 responding welcomed alternatives to Darwinism and creationism, 9 voted for Creationism, 3 shunned any criticism of Darwinism.