PolEvoflash

Essentialism
thinking of living things with “essences.” Certain predispositions, call back to Socratic, ancient philosophy. Darwinian thinking contradicts. No such thing as essences. Everything is in motion over time, moving from one trait to another.
personalism
personal agency behind natural events. Attributing natural events to acts of a deity. Personal intention behind natural events.
Magic
closely related to personalism. Human beings with supernatural powers are behind events. Infer a cause but we don’t know what it is. Can’t observe a causal agent. Scientists rule out something that can’t be observed.
Teleology
think things have a purpose, don’t just happen by chance. Things have their own intentions. Can’t be used to talk about scientific events.
Pareidolia
Tendency to see patterns when they aren’t there. Human thought is metaphorical.
Creation Myth
most cultures have them. Used to try and explain nature, how we got here. Speaks to the human need for a narrative. Magic, personal explanation.
Empiricism
philosophical belief that all theories must rest on and be tested by observable phenomenon
Induction
look at the number of phenomenon and devise theory around it.
Deduction
“if my theory is correct, what else must be?”
Replication
after testing theory, not accepted until others can repeat your findings.
Implication
something not stated but may follow from a belief.
premise
assumption
equivocation
use of words that have multiple or unclear meanings. Confuse the process of reasoning.
ad hominem
“at the person”. Attack on character of person making the argument instead of engaging the argument directly.
spurious correlation
here we see two things varying over time so they must have caused each other.
propaganda
deliberate attempt to influence public opinion using slanted, one-sided evidence, or emotionally manipulative stories.
agnostic
term invented by Darwin’s friend Thomas Huxley. view that the truth value of certain claims—especially claims about the existence or non-existence of any deity, but also other religious and metaphysical claims—is unknown or unknowable
HMS Beagle
(1831-1836)- ship that was sent on exploratory mission. Darwin is the “naturalist” on board.
Thomas Malthus
An English economist that greatly influenced Darwin. He wrote a famous essay about population. “Food supply increases arithmetically. Population increases geometrically. Therefore, the increase in population will always surpass the increase in food supply. Also, the increase in food supply results in an increase in population. Therefore, you’ll always have a large number of poor mouths to feed.” This was a politically conservative argument. Malthus was saying that trying to alleviate the plight of the poor is impossible. Darwin thought that this is true not only of humans but of all creatures. “All creatures produce more offspring than can survive.”
Adam Smith
writes “Wealth of Nations”. Competition is key. Promotes the best production of good. Darwin: maybe competition leads to better organisms in the natural world. Darwin combines Malthus’s and Smith’s theories into one.
Charles Lyelle
writes “Principles of Geology.” Forms principle of uniformitarianism. Earth and all landforms are formed by slow, small changes. Tiny changes over long period of time. Could produce huge variety. Darwin able to use this theory to explain variations in species.
Alfred Russell Wallace
Explorer. Publishes very similar theory to Darwin’s. Forces Darwin’s hand to publish theory sooner than he had wanted to.
diversity
variations within species are different from one another. All species contain capacity for change.
fecundity
capacity to produce many offspring. All organisms, species, tend to produce more offspring than can possibly survive. Echoes of Malthus. Life is one big competition.
struggle
competition between organisms, even though the two may never meet one another. Universal struggle to survive and reproduce.
adaptation
organisms adapting to a climatic factor better than another, than it will survive. The process of members of species changing to become better adjusted to their environment and therefore are more likely to survive and reproduce.
evolution
slow tiny step by slow tiny step. Intermediate forms were less well adapted than offspring. Why not see intermediate steps in the fossil record? Because the fossil record is imperfect.
homology
Situation in which different organs in different species derive from same evolutionary origins. Hand, fin of dolphins. How? Derived from common ancestor.
rudimentary organs
No longer serve practical function, but represent change over time.
“book metaphor”
Trying to infer a whole book from just a few pages is like judging implications for evolution off of fossil record alone.
“only a theory”
bullshit. was worked through with logic. Has testable propositions. Supported by enormous amount of empirical evidence.
Archaeopteryx
fossil found in Germany. Transition species between reptiles & birds. Support for Darwinism, as it is evidence of transition species.
Exaptation
An organ or behavior originally adapted to one function that becomes adapted to another.
Lord Kelvin
Most distinguished physicist in Britain. 1866 paper- concludes Earth is 100-400 MYO. Based off of heat radiation ideas. Not enough time in history of Earth for Darwin’s theory to be correct. Nuclear radiation has disproven Kelvin’s argument.
argument from design
William Paley wrote a book called Natural Theology. His argument was that we can tell/infer when something has been designed or when something just happened. Therefore, when we look at living organisms/animals/plants they satisfy the criteria for having been designed. In order to have been designed, there must be a designer; therefore, there must be a gigantic divine presence that created life on earth. It is an argument for a. there is a god/divine presence, and b. life on earth has a purpose and did not just come about by a natural/magical process. This was an accepted theory during Darwin’s time because back then there was no difference between science and theology.
Fecundity
The capacity to produce many offspring or the actual production of many offspring. Darwin observed that more offspring than can possibly survive are produced (Malthus)
Dilluvian theory
Significance: Gould uses Buckland’s recantation as example of “good Science”
Herbert Spencer
creator of social Darwinism. Refers to anyone who says that they are inferring their political beliefs from Darwinist Biology. Spencer was extremely conservative.
“Let their be light
Where’s it from? Considered as anti-Darwinism. Darwin writing to refute this creation myth.
“endless forms most beautiful”
From Origin. Darwin’s summary. Natural selection has created all the variety of life seen on the planet. Scientific alternative to the creation myth.
Reductionism
methodology in science. study things by breaking them up into tiny pieces. Argument between biologists. Dawkins says the way you understand evo. is by looking at genes. Gould says no, can’t be that narrow. Argument over what is good science and what is not.
Comprehensive realism
philosophy of science that says “yes, all scientific theories come out of a social context.” But still, science can get closer and closer to reality. Gould is a comprehensive realist.
Asa Gray
19th century Harvard Botanist. Fervent Christian who argues that Darwinism is not possible in Christianity. Helped defend Darwinism against those who say it promotes atheism.
Homology
Different organs in different species that have similar structure, which Darwinian’s say show evolutionary decent. Human hand, wing of a bat, flipper of a dolphin.