Evolution is on topic for reaction, for the nature of women makes sense and is explicable in terms of Darwinian evolution, in terms of evolutionary psychology. You can also explain it as the curse of Eve, but if you explain it as the curse of Eve, it is rather arbitrary. Why did God curse women that way, and not some other way? (Answer, because we are risen killer apes, not fallen angels.) And because women are cursed in this fashion we cannot trust them to make sexual and reproductive choices. Nor can we trust them to vote, for they are going to vote for invasion, conquest, and the extermination of their menfolk.

Reed criticizes evolution on the basis of irreducible complexity – that living creatures could not have evolved in small steps because its functionality is inherently complex.

This criticism is bunkum. No one has produced a single example of irreducible complexity in living creatures. Complex systems in living creatures are excessively and unnecessarily complicated, not irreducibly complicated. The reason for the unnecessary complexity is that they are adapted from a system that did something else. For example, inside the the dolphin’s flipper is a hand for climbing trees. Hence considerably more complicated than the fish’s fin.

The dolphin’s fin is not the simplest possible fin. It is the simplest possible fin that you can derive in small steps from a hand for climbing trees.

This all too reducible complexity is compelling evidence for evolution, not an argument against it. That the dolphin’s fin is overly complicated is proof that the ancestors of dolphins climbed trees, and that the hands of the tree climbers were themselves adapted from the bottom gripping hands of first tetrapods.

However, while we have compelling evidence that existing living creatures evolved from simpler creatures of lower evolutionary grade, that all the animals you can recognize as animals evolved from the urbilatarian, a creature with jelly like flesh, a quite complicated brain, a heart, a liver, two very simple eyes that could barely see anything, a quite good sense of smell, and a single orifice used for sex, birth, eating, excreting, breathing, and smelling, Reed nonetheless has a compelling argument in that we don’t have a plausible example of life that could have evolved from non life. Current earthlike conditions could not support forms of nonlife capable of evolving into life. While the complexity of existing life forms is quite certainly reducible, no one has produced something simple enough to appear spontaneously from nonlife. In this sense, yes, irreducible complexity.

Maybe during the Hadean era of the earth high energy life forms appeared that could not exist in current earthlike conditions, and as the earth calmed down, evolved into forms capable of existing in current Earthlike conditions. Maybe on the comets low energy life forms appeared that could not exist in current earthlike conditions, and evolved into creatures capable of existing in current Earthlike conditions – I tend to the latter theory, and think that the first forms of life were low energy, lived in conditions very far from earthlike, in places very far from earth, and existed long before the sun was formed.

Or maybe God created the first urbilatarian. Reed’s argument is an argument in support of that position But if God did create the first urbilatarian, evolution has been running since then, as is proven by the Dolphin’s fin and the Panda’s thumb. So, even if God created the first urbilatarian, Darwinian evolution still explains the otherwise mysterious nature of women.

Vox Day asks, as if it was a killer argument, what is the mutation rate?

Roughly ten per generation. However most of these are either neutral or harmful, which means that evolution has to run mighty fast to stay in the same place.

If he is asking how many mutations favored by evolution occur, how many mutations go to fixation, the answer is something in the ballpark of one every thousand years or so. However, we get lots of evolution by changing the ratios of large numbers of alleles of small effect, and describing this kind of evolution in terms of mutation rate is not very meaningful, since it is not accurately described in terms of mutations, and since the ratios rarely go all the way to fixation.

Vox Day’s advice on handling women is not very good. It may well have been adversely affected by his reluctance to believe in evolution. Similarly, his faith in the sexless character of females under eighteen.

While I am delighted that #metoo is devouring those who funded it and sponsored it I know perfectly well that every notable #metoo allegation is a malicious lie, for the targets are always the men whom women very much want, wealthy and powerful men, and the accusers are mostly washed up narcissistic whores that men no longer want – the accusations are directed against those men who are most likely to be sexually contacted by women in a sexually aggressive manner, and the accusations come from those women who are most apt to sexually contact men in a sexually aggressive manner.

While we should never interrupt the enemy when he is making a mistake, and should enthusiastically cheer our enemies as they devour each other, Vox Day is a blue pilled sucker for failing to identify vicious lying whores as vicious lying whores. Weinstein and company deserve what they are going to get – but they deserve it for sponsoring the movement that is now devouring them. Similarly, when Stalin sent those who set up death camps to their own death camps for “objective fascism”, it was a good thing that they were sent to their own death camps, but one should not be persuaded that they were actually were objectively fascists. And it will be a good thing if Weinstein and company are convicted of rape, but they are no more rapists than Trots were fascists, and if Vox Day thinks they are guilty, he is ignorant of the nature of women, to which ignorance his rejection of evolution has likely contributed.

170 Responses to “Evolution”

  1. […] While I am delighted that #metoo is devouring those who funded it and sponsored it I know perfectly well that every notable #metoo allegation is a malicious lie, for the targets are always the men whom women very much want, wealthy and powerful men, and the accusers are mostly washed up narcissistic whores that men no longer want – the accusations are directed against those men who are most likely to be sexually contacted by women in a sexually aggressive manner, and the accusations come from those women who are most apt to sexually contact men in a sexually aggressive manner. […]

  2. neal says:

    Evolution is just working it out over time. And sampling to keep the beginning on track. Of course, that would be precognitive and not so clocked by timelike products.

    Unless invited. Grandfathered in mostly for repairs. There is the damned War. I like to think of what is called Space and what is called Time as a kind of courtship. A work in progress from a certain point of view.

    Ask my wife, she will wait.

  3. Dan Bagrov says:

    “In the beginning there was the logos, and the logos was with God”

    Anti-evolutionists like E Michael Jones and Tom Wolfe, don’t realize how close they are/were to unifying evolution and Christianity.

    The Logos is, among other things, the logic within which evolution can work, stochastically and also steered by God. Gnon, convergent evolution, Logos, it’s all the same idea. God coded Adam and Eve into the Logos and then allowed them to be expressed, over time, analogously to how a numerical solution to a hard problem is found.

    Christianity says it is wrong for a man to masturbate using the friction of another man’s feces-laden colon, because it is illogical, it is against Logos. Nothing productive can come of it and in fact harm will come from it. Evolution says the same thing! Christians need to give the Gospel of John a second look, it’s all there.

  4. Neurotoxin says:

    “By the way, you realise you’re siding with the Creationists, right?”

    For the record: Creationism is silly; evolution is where the evidence points.

  5. Neurotoxin says:

    I tried to stay out of the classic “Internet evolution/creation debate,” but there goes my self control.

    Carlylean Restorationist, you said to Jim,
    “Where to draw the line is the question you’re asking.”

    No, our host is interested in, quoting him, “a plausible embodiment of information in a form that could copy itself.”

    • Carlylean Restorationist says:

      I’m becoming quite frustrated as to why otherwise very smart people can’t understand this.

      What that demand amounts to is that we find a monkey giving birth to a human.

      It’s just incoherent. It’s impossible *only because* it’s inevitably impossible.

      All I’m saying is that the correct way to think about it is the same for both cases. When you’re looking for a non-human ape that’s the ancestor of modern humans, you don’t demand that it gives birth to JFK.
      What you’re looking for is a non-human ape that has descendants that are a bit more human-ish and less ape-ish.
      We have plenty of THOSE, but to a Creationist it’s never enough because not one of these insane creatures patched together by obvious frauds (lol) could have given birth to a man in good standing.

      When you’re looking for ‘the’ ‘first’ living thing, what you’re saying is that there has to be a thing that’s definitely alive and performs all the sophisticated tasks you impose on it to qualify, but is descended from something which lacks all of that.

      In other words it requires a _saltation_ – but not because it’s a Hard Problem: it requires a saltation because that’s the condition you chose to impose!!!!!!!!!

      • peppermint says:

        Jim is right that there simply has to be a first self-replicating thing. You’re right that that self-replicating thing doesn’t have to be capable of existing in this environment where anything the least bit tasty get eaten immediately, which, of course, Jim already knows, which is why he’s trying to talk about the further hypothesis that the first self-replicating thing appeared off Earth.

      • jim says:

        > When you’re looking for ‘the’ ‘first’ living thing, what you’re saying is that there has to be a thing that’s definitely alive and performs all the sophisticated tasks you impose on it to qualify, but is descended from something which lacks all of that.

        Not what I am saying. No resemblance to what I am saying. No resemblance to what anyone ever anywhere has ever said. I don’t know where you are getting this from. Maybe some Dawkins parody of an argument that he thinks creationists might have made.

        I am asking for a wild assed guess as to what an intermediate between life and non life might be composed of – what physical material would embody the information, what physical process would copy the information. Naked RNA genes sounded promising, because naked RNA can do all sorts of things, but that idea just did not pan out.

        On the whole, it starting to look very much as if the first life could not have been earthlike, nor have appeared under earthlike conditions.

    • Carlylean Restorationist says:

      By the way, you realise you’re siding with the Creationists, right?

      Anyway I’m done with all of this. I don’t come here to oppose the host, the host’s amazing. I endorse the entire Jim canon, including this article, 100%.
      The remaining differences don’t matter and whilst it annoys me to see this kind of thinking, it’s not a deal-breaker, so to speak.

      • jim says:

        Obviously I am not a creationist. But we do not have a satisfactory answer to the origin of life problem. Jus glib evasive hand waving.

        Does not mean that a satisfactory answer is impossible. Just we do not have one.

        Maybe some physical process we have not thought of, in some environment we have not seen. I rather doubt that it could be an earthlike environment, or produce life that is capable of surviving in earthlike conditions at first.

        • Carlylean Restorationist says:

          Like I said, you’re siding with the Creationists. You’re not one yourself but you’re siding with them.

          If you’re holding up your hands to the mystery of how inert matter transformed instantly into a fully autonomous self-replicating proto-cell, rather than dismissing it as a really stupid question, then you’re opening the door to someone saying “QED”.

          I’m running out of energy for repeating such a simple thing ad nauseam but for the final time:

          Whatever set of features you choose for qualifying as “real life” rather than “not real life”(hence non-living), that entity will be descended from something almost exactly like itself, but slightly simpler. It doesn’t matter where you draw that line! You could proclaim that only complex multicellular beings are truly alive and bacteria’s just muck that behaves a bit like it’s alive in some ways. You could go on to add that it’s a marvel how life-LIKE its ‘cellular’ chemistry is, imitating to a close approximation how real cells in actual living animals reproduce.

          Or you could go back much further and proclaim that to count as ‘real life’ (as opposed to ‘not real life’ and hence not living) all that’s required is the ability to fully self-replicate without any assistance from non-living machinery in the wider environment. If you saw a medium-scale ancestor of the qualifying entity, you’d marvel at how life-LIKE some of its features were: perhaps it could translate codons into amino acids all by itself, but lacked the ability to do some other crucial qualifying task. (After all an Excel spreadsheet can do that!)

          It doesn’t make the slightest difference where you draw your imaginary line: it’s still going to be imaginary.

          I’ve made this comparison before so I’ll make it again: “there’s no such thing as white people” is perfectly true! It’s ALSO TRUE that everyone here can tell whether someone’s white or not to a prettttttttty good approximation of it being a ‘real difference’ (as opposed to a ‘not real difference’ hence they’re indistinguishable).
          There’s absolutely no need for there to be a precise test to determine white from ‘very nearly but not’ white: in a given situation we can make the judgement ourselves……. as we can with ‘living or not’.

          The problem here is NOT the unavailability of a qualifying example to meet your arbitrary criteria. The problem here is the criteria themselves: not even that they’re the wrong ones, but rather that they exist at all. There does not need to be a line.

          Sometimes you can say “the room’s empty of living things now that we took the cat out, so go ahead and heat it to 300C to sterilise it” (categorising bacteria and viruses as non-life) while other times you can say “look we found life on Mars: bacteria were in these subterranean lakes all along!”.

          Both are reasonable uses of the word “life”.

    • jim says:

      You are not presenting arguments or evidence, and your links are not presenting arguments or evidence. You don’t make any sense, and your links make no sense.

    • Carlylean Restorationist says:

      It is however instructive. Pinning the creation of homo sapiens sapiens to walking upright is precisely the same fallacy as pinning the label ‘living’ on full self-replication in a self-contained cell.
      There’s no ‘first human’ but that in no way means there’s no such thing as humans. Similarly there’s no ‘first living cell’, but that in no way means we’re being ‘eliminativists’ about life.

    • pdimov says:

      That’s just more evidence against Out of Africa.

    • jim says:

      Lucy was walking upright four million years ago and is generally interpreted as the link between apes and humans. We have her skeleton and it is approximately an ape from the waist up, and a human from the waist down. You link to evidence that something was walking upright six million years ago. How is this supposed to be evidence against evolution?

      • Carlylean Restorationist says:

        If the first living proto-prokaryote had to have its own replicative machinery and a genome capable of surviving mutation some of the time, then Lucy doesn’t count as the link between apes and humans because her mother was not a human being, and anything whose mother is a non-human animal must be a non-human animal.

        If you’re inclined to reject the hard finish line in one case, you should entertain the possibility of rejecting it in the other case also….. and in the case of consciousness, and of free will.

        • jim says:

          What is this crap about a hard finish line? It irrelevant to anything I said, or anything anyone has ever said, about the origins of life.

          You are inventing absurd positions for me instead of attempting to address the question, the question being a plausible origin of the first life, a plausible embodiment of information in a form that could copy itself. If you continue to divert from the issue, your comments will be deleted?

          If there is a soft finish line, then there is something intermediate between life and non life. What is that intermediate? Propose it.

          No one rejects a priori the possibility of such a thing. The problem is that no one has been able to imagine a specific concrete example of such a thing, an intermediate between life and non life.

          • Carlylean Restorationist says:

            Jim said: “What is this crap about a hard finish line?”

            You’re asking how the first living thing came to be. Something like this:

            How is it possible that life arose from non-life? Surely(DING!) every living thing is capable of full modern self-replication and (by implication) preservation of code to make itself. The irreducible complexity of such a thing has never been plausibly observed in anything lacking any of the core components.

            Bad question. There was never any ‘first’ living thing. Whatever you choose as ‘the first’ had to have been born of something that didn’t qualify, and yet those two things would be tremendously similar to one another.

            Where to draw the line is the question you’re asking.

            What I’m answering is “don’t draw the line”.

            • jim says:

              Not what I am asking.

              Not one anyone every anywhere has ever asked.

              The question is: Imagine an intermediate stage. What would physically embody it? How would it work? What physical environment would it exist it? It is like asking what a half man half ape would look like (Answer, like Lucy)

              We can easily imagine a creature like Lucy, imagine how she lived,and have in fact found numerous skeletons like that. You are refusing to tell me what an intermediate between life and non life might like, what it might consist of.

              • Steve Johnson says:

                Let’s stipulate a definition of “life” as just “thing which can reproduce itself”. By that definition the first living thing is the simplest thing that can copy itself but there’s no thing that’s halfway alive only things that are kind of similar in other ways to the first thing that was alive. Once you have a living thing then natural selection applies.

                There’s absolutely a line to be drawn between life and non-life by that definition so let’s use that one.

          • Carlylean Restorationist says:

            Honestly it’s literally this:

            Since every ape has an ape for a mother, Creationism.


            Which came first? The chicken – or the egg? Ha gotcha evolution! Since chickens can only live if they come out of an egg, and since only a chicken can lay an egg, evolution’s nonsense and God did it.

            • jim says:

              You are refusing to talk to me, and are instead talking to Dawkin’s straw man parody of a dumb creationist.

          • Carlylean Restorationist says:

            Sorry for overload lately; will step right back after this………

            Just a small clarification: by “don’t draw the line”, I’m not suggesting some esoteric Zen approach to biology. What I’m saying is just by all means keep talking about living vs non-living, but use it instrumentally:

            In a triage situation, it’s right to ask “which of these men is in effect already dead?”

            In a construction environment, it’s right to ask “will this project impact any living creatures?”

            and so on……..

            It’s not that we need to forget all about life vs non-life: there just doesn’t need to be one iconic moment when non-life gave rise to life: that thing there, right there, where a non-living parent had a living child.

            We don’t do it for animals (including humans) and that’s for a very good reason: it produces non-useful results.

            • Carlylean Restorationist says:

              Important note: consistency can be our enemy too.

              The “don’t draw the line between X and non-X” principle is good in a variety of situations: consciousness, free will, racial classification, intelligence and many more.

              It’s very BAD however in respect of the abortion question. In that situation it’s better to just say “we don’t terminate, without prejudice to sentience, life, ensoulment or anything else – we just dogmatically don’t do it because it’s a species of murder and murder is WRONG”.

            • jim says:

              You are shouting “I tell you the sun rises in the East”.

              Who has ever asked for one iconic moment?

              You are replying to an argument that no one has ever made.

  6. Mister Grumpus says:

    You are really nailing it with these “Jim’s Notes” Jim-for-Dummies pieces. Great value here.

  7. Harold says:

    Vox Day has no integrity: he claims upholding Christianity is a pillar of the alt-right. It isn’t, nor has it ever been. Vox isn’t ignorant enough to not know this, therefore he is a liar. You can argue that Christianity ought to be a pillar of the alt-right, but you can’t claim that it is.

    Vox was trying to co-opt the alt-right, making it pro-Christianity, just as Jews co-opt every mainstream conservative movement into being pro-Israel, whether that was at all related to their stated purpose.

    Rabbi Vox Day is the Jewiest non-Jew I have ever encountered. Anyone who doesn’t belong to the school of thought of which he is the charismatic leader gets cast as a sinner. He invents terminology for his cult, and twists the meanings of extant words. He threatens to attack his enemies with the legal system. He is self-aggrandising when he shouldn’t be, and self-promoting. He even likes comic books.

    Unfortunately, unlike a Jew, he has little talent for rhetoric or narrative.

    As for his, and Fred’s, musing on evolution. That the alt-right has so many people that don’t find it laughable doesn’t bode well for its future.

    • Roberto says:

      >Anyone who doesn’t belong to the school of thought of which he is the charismatic leader

      Calling his shitposts a “school of thought” is flattering. VD has never had an original idea in his entire life, nor has he systematized the ideas of other people into something coherent. Not a single person has been “red pilled” by VD about any subject. And his memes, such as they are, are boomer-tier cringe-cakes, despite him being genX.

      The alt-right needs some fresh blood pumped into its veins, for sure.

    • peppermint says:

      The jews recognized the revolutionary potential of comic books to describe and discuss solutions to urban crime. So, they got rid of “dark, gritty” serious comics replacing them with capeshit, then replaced the serious comics with dark, gritty poz.

      Vox Day is a comic book publisher. It remains to be seen whether he will allow serious discussion of the actual problems or divert away from it, but for now he’s pissing off the right people.

    • Anonymous says:

      Vox Day doesn’t just “threaten to attack his enemies with the legal system”, he’s credibly claimed to have sicced the police in the US on several of them.

      Rabbi Vox Day is the Jewiest non-Jew I have ever encountered. Anyone who doesn’t belong to the school of thought of which he is the charismatic leader gets cast as a sinner. He invents terminology for his cult, and twists the meanings of extant words.

      Could be, perhaps his biggest problem is that he’s fundamentally dishonest, and in the long term that just doesn’t work.

      He even likes comic books.

      I’m not sure about that, but he’s identified them as a lever in the culture war, and I think he’s right about that, although I don’t know how powerful it is when not tied to blockbuster movies, or how big a splash he’ll make with them. But as peppermint notes, he’s indeed getting the right people angry, and the SJWs running the comics industry are some of the most insane we’ve yet seen.

  8. A key point in evolved ability is how concisely life is coded. Encoding a limb does not specify where all the cells go much less how they connect. Instead there is a concise routine for building bone segments. And some short code for attaching several of them together. There is no specification where the muscles go, they just attach to the bones and the ones that are used expand. There is no specification where the nerves go. They just attach to the muscles and learn to operate them. There is no specification where the capillaries go. All the other cells when they need oxygen just releases signaling chemical and capillaries grow in the direction of the signaling chemical. So by changing just a few bits you can add new bone segments and everything else just follows along with no devolution required. See the books “what is thought?” And “the plausibility of life”.

    Also I believe modern theories of the origin of life focus on ocean bottom vents And probably the origin of metabolism before reproduction.

    Nonetheless it remains possible that the explanation is in quantum mechanics/string theory anything that can happen does happen in some universe. Of course this explanation is basically indistinguishable from God.

  9. Glenfilthie says:

    I always laughed at the creationists. They obviously shat the bed with their biblical mythology but turn it around. The chances of mutation are astronomically small, and the vast majority produce monsters. And the Big Bang… a collars all explosion, right? Usually the result of an explosion is a mess, but here on earth we have order, that has to run with precision far exceeding that of a Swiss watch.

    We are not killer apes, we are miracles.

    • peppermint says:

      explosions take the chaos of desert rat holes and turn it into ordered rubble and sand

    • jim says:

      Assume ten non neutral mutations per birth That is about one billion per year.

      It seems likely that one non neutral mutation goes to fixation per thousand years, indicating one beneficial mutation per trillion harmful mutations.

      That is plenty big enough to drive evolution and speciation, big enough to make evolution and speciation absolutely inevitable.

  10. jay says:

    Actually the Laws of nature were designed to give rise to life. Giving credence to the fine tuning argument:

    Life may actually end up similar across the universe due to such laws.

  11. Polifugue says:

    Vox asks for a rate of evolutionary mutation by natural selection because if there is no such rate, evolution is not acutal quantifiable, testable, and replicable science and thus bunkum historical science fiction.


    Meaning that the honest scientific answer to “How did species form” is “I don’t know.” When evolutionists look at similarities between species and conclude that species must have “evolved” they are using philosophy from the presupposition of eternal matter.

    Regarding the answer to that question, however, Vox shares the same understanding that random mutation is a low probability event. At which point VD gives us a syllogism regarding low probability events and evolution:


    As for evolution and the women question, I agree with the blog that Vox is too Left-wing on women; and yes, that is a problem. However, Vox manages to accept r/K on the grounds that it is rooted in reality, so there is no requirement that people have to accept evolution in order to understand women. After all, did not Christendom understand the nature of women not that long ago?

    • jim says:

      That species are ill defined, and not objectively real, but rather arbitrary choices of terminology, is evidence that species are continually in the process of changing from species to another – evidence that Darwin is right, not evidence that Darwin is wrong.

      If species were created and unchanging, we would never be in doubt as to whether two different kinds were two different species.

      Similarly, the inordinate complexity of the dolphin fin is evidence that it evolved from a hand for climbing trees, which evolved from a leg for walking on the ground, which evolved from a hand for grasping the bottom of fast flowing streams, which evolved from a fish’s fin.

      • polifugue says:

        Similarities between species is not scientific evidence for anything. It is only a testament that such similarities exist. When evolutionists assert that therefore such species must have “evolved” they are presupposing their common descent, which can be argued, but from philosophical grounds, not scientific hypothesis.

        In other words, biologists confuse philosophical bunkum with science, and in the words of Vox, “because physicists get amazingly accurate results.”

        The reason why the rate of mutation is so important is that it is the only way to quantify evolution into something testable. And since it isn’t, there is no scientific evidence for evolution. The argument Vox uses against macro-evolution is that it is mathematically impossible.

        As for species not existing, one could go further down that route and say life doesn’t exist either. But then if Jim is just a determined machine then he isn’t making his own arguments as they are determined chemical processes.

        Also no one says that species do not undergo change on a micro-level, so there is that.

        • Yara says:

          Bravo! This is some next-level sophistry. I’m taking notes.

          • polifugue says:

            Yara, please take your passive-aggressive gamma bullshit elsewhere. I know the concepts are rather difficult, but your snark is not appreciated.

        • peppermint says:

          If God exists why did all the tasmanian devils die of cancer just as dogs started competing with them?

        • jim says:

          If species were distinct and immutable, we would always be able to decide objectively whether two kinds were two different species, or two races of the same species.

          That we cannot objectively make such a distinction in general shows that species are always in flux, and we see them in the middle of flux.

          • polifugue says:

            Jim is correct that there exists some difficulty in classifying species when accounting for interbreeding and so forth. In addition, I am not denying that species do not mutate. However, this does not prove evolution by natural selection as the facts that gene size, gene number, and complexity decreases over time, makes evolution by natural selection impossible.


            • jim says:

              Again, your argument makes no sense. Why is this supposed to be an argument against evolution by natural selection?

              Of course genome size will sometimes increase, and sometimes decrease. Why should it not? If genome size and complexity always steadily increased, that would require, and be proof of, intelligent design.

              • polifugue says:

                Perhaps it would help if my assertions clearer. The argument that evolution by natural selection is false is centered around the mechanic of Darwin’s evolution being impossible. Genome size and complexity is yet another factor making the act of evolution by random chance that much more improbable.

        • Anonymous 2 says:

          “The reason why the rate of mutation is so important is that it is the only way to quantify evolution into something testable.”

          It seems unlikely that mutation alone explains evolution. And indeed there are plenty of other sources of genetic change in a real cell.

      • glosoli says:

        >That species are ill defined, and not objectively real, but rather arbitrary choices of terminology, is evidence that species are continually in the process of changing from species to another – evidence that Darwin is right, not evidence that Darwin is wrong.

        I can’t find the link, but recent discoveries show that very simple organisms that have been around for hundreds of millions of years in the sea have not changed at all (because they’re still so simple). Yet their genetic makeup is still very complex. Let’s call them the world’s greatest survivors, as they’ve survived for so long and are still going strong, yet have not evolved at all for hundreds of millions of years.

        Meanwhile, up on the surface, in the past 500 years alone, over 1,000 species have gone extinct. These species had supposedly ‘evolved’ through continuous fitness adaptions, and could run or jump and fly, and all sorts of other great feats. But they no longer exist.

        There is no sense therefore to the evolutionary theory that fitness survives through constant change, Darwin was dead wrong. In fact, no change at all means you survive at the bottom of the ocean just fine, whereas your fancy cousins up on top don’t.

        • jim says:

          On the other hand, foraminifera , which are somewhat more complex organisms, but still single celled, are in endless flux, which flux is easily traceable, because some of them have complex skeletons, and these complex skeletons wind up on the ocean floor in layer after layer, revealing endless appearance of new species from old, with old kinds disappearing, or prospering to give rise to many diverse new kinds. No missing links, because we have skeletons by the bucketful. Evolution and endless speciation recorded in minute detail in buckets of ooze.

          • glosoli says:

            Your comment doesn’t even attempt to address the point I raised.

            • jim says:

              Your point is irrelevant. It makes no difference that some species are observed to be not evolving into new species, when other species are observed to have evolved into new species.

              • polifugue says:

                Glosoli’s point is pertinent because if there is no fixed rate then evolution by natural selection is all but an arbitrary construct of how one species magically transforms into another. Once again, it is not that I do not see the similarity between species x and y, but that it is mathematically impossible. I think a better example Glosoli could have provided is the astronomical difference between a simple bacterium and a eukaryote, as some scientists conclude that the complexity indicates life must have come from outer space, which of course is scientifically unverifiable.

                • jim says:

                  Your argument makes no sense.

                  Of course there is no fixed rate of evolution. Why would anyone think that there was?

                  If evolution occurs by natural selection a fixed rate could only exist by divine intervention, and would be proof of divine intervention.

                • pdimov says:

                  Because most mutation are neutral, not subject to selection.

                • polifugue says:

                  I should have used the word “average” instead of “fixed.” The problem here is that evolutionists don’t even understand the question. The number is very useful and deeply relevant, for reasons stated previously.

              • glosoli says:

                My point was that the critters that have not evolved at all, just played it safe on the ocean floor, are still around, effectively displaying the best longevity as a species on the planet.

                Whereas those who seemingly change and become ‘better’ and live on land and in the air, plenty of them end up totally extinct.

                So, Darwin posited that adaptions led to survival of the fittest, when in fact zero adaptions wins the long race, still winning in fact. Darwin was just plain wrong.

                • glosoli says:

                  Which then naturally leads one to ponder, ‘why’ did the animals and birds leave the sea if it is so dangerous? So many extinctions.

                  There’s only one answer, it’s because it’s part of the world’s divinely ordered state, we humans need animals and fish and veg and fruit, and animals help with all of that. Otherwise, they’re just plain pointless, as would all life be, without a God.

                • jim says:

                  Your argument is too idiotic to merit a response.

                • pdimov says:

                  This actually makes sense. There is a tradeoff between being too well adapted, hence more efficient, and being less adapted to the specific environment, hence being more resilient to sudden environmental changes.

                  This doesn’t mean that Darwin wasn’t wrong though, because mutations are too slow and too unpredictable to cope with sudden environmental changes, and in fact what likely happens is old inactive genes being reactivated in response to the new environment. Consequently, an organism that “optimizes” its genome to shed the inactive genes is then more likely to go extinct. Hence the larger genomes of the old survivors.

                • Steve Johnson says:

                  Ah ha! Species that are well adapted to their niche and can’t improve their survival and reproduction, don’t! Checkmate.

    • jim says:

      > Meaning that the honest scientific answer to “How did species form” is “I don’t know.”

      I know how species form, because we routinely see speciation happening in real time for species with very fast life cycles, and because we see speciation happening in the fossil record for species with abundant fossils.

      We also, for species that keep getting geographically split up, see a species undergoing much the same speciation in a hundred different places. Salt water three spined stickle backs become fresh water three spined sticklebacks over and over again in each river system, and within each river system and each lake, fresh water three spined sticklebacks speciate into limnetic and benthic forms, speciating in similar ways over and over and over again, so though life is too short to see the speciation complete, we can see almost the same stickleback speciation at a hundred different stages. In a hundred lakes, you can find a hundred different degrees of separation into limnetic and benthic sticklebacks.

      • pdimov says:

        >limnetic and benthic sticklebacks

        That’s pretty racist, you know. -)

      • polifugue says:

        What evolutionists do not realize what they are doing is that they are inferring change from difference in species, as many for some reason or another do not understand the difference between a scientific claim and a philosophical/historical/etc. claim. In essence, the idea that “therefore x evolved from y” is an unfounded statement. It would not be entirely unfounded if one could provide a mutation rate, or anything quantifiable, but even top “scientists” have a problem with this:


        Since the process is impossible to quantify, it is not proven. If I told you I found the Higgs Boson, and when you asked me what its mass, parity, and spin are, and I replied that these values are impossible to quantify, you would laugh me out of the room. A physicist cannot tell me with certainty whether a specific photon will go through the left slit or right slit in a double-slit experiment, but a physicist can quantify with precision the probability of where a photon will end up on the screen at the far end of the experiment.

        Evidential standards may be different in different disciplines, but if one tosses out quantification, then the discipline more closely resembles history than any of the sciences. Even social scientists using quantitative data are able to quantify more than evolutionists. Evolutionists cannot scientifically prove how species form. Evolution has no predictive power at all about the rate at which mutations and speciation will occur, and thus cannot be tested; therefore, scientifically meaningless.

        • jim says:

          We see fast breeding short lived species changing over historical time.

          We see species changing in the fossil record.

          We see species in the midst of change from one species to another, as for example the multitude of chichlids and three spined stickleback, where every lake and every river system creates its own speciation events.

          And the creatures we observe make no sense except as a result of evolution. It is obvious that the dolphin’s fin was derived from a hand for climbing trees, which was derived from a leg for walking on, which was derived from a hand for grasping the bottom of fast flowing streams, which was derived from a fin for swimming with.

          • polifugue says:

            I have looked up some of your examples, and I do not deny the changes happening in such species. Of course, if the only difference between each stickleback event is within a high probability, then natural selection would be a useful metric.

            That being said, the probability of certain species evolving into another, one example being the bacterium “evolving” into the eukaryote, is so astronomically low that one cannot assert it’s creation through random chance.

            The moment when Darwin’s mythos falls apart is not one seeing the fossil record or species as existing today, but when he understands that certain species cannot be assumed to have morphed into another by random chance. Such statements are mere conjecture. The problem is the mechanism, natural selection.


            To make this more clear, if the difference between the hand and the dolphin’s fin is within the realm of probable chance as dictated by the rate of mutation, such change should be accepted. But if it is not, the change as guided by mutation should be met with skepticism.

  12. imnobody00 says:

    (Disclaimer: I am agnostic in the ID-evolution debate. But I don’t think ID is accurately represented in this post. I only want to set the record straight).

    (Full disclosure: I have no theological axe to grind. I am a Catholic and the Vatican has accepted evolution as a “more than a theory”. I don’t believe in a historical Adam and Eve. As Saint Augustine did 1500 years ago, I don’t believe in a literal Genesis).

    “for the nature of women makes sense and is explicable in terms of Darwinian evolution, in terms of evolutionary psychology. ”

    Most supporters of intelligent design won’t deny that there is microevolution (natural selection inside a species, like the nature of women). Macroevolution (origin of new species by natural selection) is the thing in dispute.

    “You can also explain it as the curse of Eve, but if you explain it as the curse of Eve”

    Or maybe by both. As C.S. Lewis observed, in Hamlet, Ophelia gets drowned because a branch in the tree where she hanged got broken. How can you explain Ophelia’s death? Because that branch got broken? Or because Shakespeare wanted Ophelia to die? Obviously, both explanations are true. They differ in the level of the explanation.

    “No one has produced a single example of irreducible complexity in living creatures”

    Really? Read “Darwin’s Black Box”

    “For example, inside the the dolphin’s flipper is a hand for climbing trees. Hence considerably more complicated than the fish’s fin.”

    Yes, inside some of the web pages I designed, there are structures more complicated than needed because I copied them from web pages that I designed before (where they were needed). This does not mean that my web pages are produced by natural selection. They are produced by intelligent design.

    This topic is called common descent (all the organisms are descendant of a common ancestor, the “tree of life” and so on). You can agree with common descent without agreeing with evolution by natural selection. And you can agree with evolution by natural selection without agreeing with UNGUIDED evolution by natural selection (see books “Not by Chance” by Lee M. Spetner and “Where the Conflict really lies” by Alvin Plantinga) .

    Finally. This is a very loaded subject. On the one hand, there are the ones who want to be evolution to be false because of theistic religious assumptions. On the other hand, there are the ones who want to silent any debate because of atheistic religious assumptions. See the evolutionary scientist Richard Lewontin:

    “It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

    IMHO, the debate should be conducted as any other scientific debate, with rational arguments and with no religious assumptions whatsoever.

    • jim says:

      > As Saint Augustine did 1500 years ago, I don’t believe in a literal Genesis)

      Saint Augustine claims to be a biblical literalist, but his definition of of “literal” is rather different from that which most biblical literalists would expect. This may be a policy of strategic ambiguity. We want to accommodate the simple minded believer, without looking like idiots, so that we can say to simple minded believers, “yes, of course that is what happened”, and say to scientists something rather more sophisticated.

      The simple minded believer reads the story of the tower of Babel, and imagines people waking up one morning and suddenly not understanding each other. The sophisticated believer reads the story of the tower of Babel, and imagines the first empire of the neolithic era building a great temple to struggle against the fissiparous tendencies of mankind, and failing to resist those fissiparous tendencies. And thus avoids looking like an idiot, while still being able to truthfully assure the simple minded believer that they both believe the same thing, which in an important sense they do.

    • jim says:

      If conducted as an actual scientific debate, the evidence for Darwinian evolution by natural selection and for common descent is overwhelming. The evidence for the spontaneous appearance of life from nonlife is nonexistent, and believing in the spontaneous origin of life from nonlife is faith in things unseen.

      The proposition that life spontaneously arose from nonlife is difficult to falsify. The proposition that earthlike life arose from nonlife under earthlike conditions, being more specific, is rather easier to falsify, and looks to be false.

      • Yara says:

        One of these guys had a reasonable point about how evolution was invalid because it (presumably the archaeological record, not domestication or w/e) is invulnerable to controlled experiment. Clearly science has no explicit formulation, or governments would not be able to plausibly distribute grant money to people who clearly are not scientists. It’s one of those things where to quote, Justice Stewart, “you know it when you see it”, and it’s equally evident that it isn’t p-self-massaging, but how exactly in your estimation do controlled experiment, falsifiability, replicability, belief in the ignorance of experts, and meaningfulness intersect?

    • Yara says:

      >I’m a Catholic
      >this is a very loaded subject
      >I have no theological axe to grind
      >this debate should be conducted as any other scientific debate
      >let’s use rational arguments and no religious assumptions whatsoever
      >a little bit of evolution is fine, but too much I find objectionable
      >the amount of evolution I’m willing to take up the ass is determined by how much I can rationalize Big Daddy God consciously guiding the process so as to form me in his image

      I must say, this is exactly the sort of argument I would expect from an adherent to the ecclesiastical equivalent of Trotskyism.

    • Yara says:

      I have little understanding of the Catholic conception of God, nor if it differs significantly from how it was 50 or 100 or 200 years ago, but I will say this: I don’t understand how you can place God within the Universe as you have implicitly done, as some sort of, like, New Age hippy guru superhero figure. The supposed omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience of God only makes sense in the context of God being at least as big as the Universe itself, i.e. God is the Universe, your physical form being a small reflection of God as embodied in your flesh, i.e. natural selection of biological organisms being the principal way in which “God” acts on us Earthlings, and through us, on Himself; and conceiving of God as “outside” the Universe is academic unless you have a fetish for consolidating time, i.e. eliminating cause and effect, i.e. you wish to unburden yourself of free will and its accompanying duties, rights, and responsibilities.

  13. lalit says:

    This article was a masterpiece

    Various Pagan legends from far separated cultures talk about the various ages of man where the Lifespans were incomparably larger. Hell, the lifespans in the Lord of the Rings is about a 1000 years.

    Perhaps Genetic load explains it. Ofcourse, the deepest wish of humans being to live longer, these legends probably came up just as a release valve for the yearning in the hearts of man. But I still can’t help wondering.

    • peppermint says:

      lobster is immortal and gross. Optimum lifespan for food is probably beef.

      • Yara says:

        Ah yes, the lobster: rat of the sea – ultimately worthy of little consideration.

      • lalit says:

        Well, if you wanted to go there, why not the Amoeba? They are immortal in the sense that they keep dividing eternally. Besides this entire Lobster immortality is a Meme. Not sure who you are trolling this time, Peppermint. I need a *&^$^ Cipher to understand some of your posts.

        • Yara says:

          It’s intrinsic to his genius. Every peppermint patty is an opportunity for mental expansion.

    • Not just a release valve. They respected the wisdom of old age, hence a way to say that the sages of the golden ages were really wise was to say they were really old. Like how yudcuckedsky types think an “1000 IQ AI” is even a meaningful concept, a “800 years old sage” meant something analogical.

      • Alrenous says:

        Another major reason was that they were innumerate. During Rome records started getting somewhat reliable, and during the transition we see people who ultimately lived to be like 59 claiming to be 80 or 100 years old. Or both, at different times. Extrapolate backwards. At the time of Methuselah they probably hadn’t even invented numbers like ‘100’ yet.

  14. Johnny Caustic says:

    I think Vox is a natural asshole who appeals to many women–or enough women, at any rate–because he behaves somewhat as Jim advocates. But he does it naturally, and can only partly articulate what he’s doing right.

    It’s true that his face looks puffy and lacks the lean look it had when he was younger. I think he’s reached an age where he has to choose between dropping all carbs and alcohol or looking puffy, and he’s not ready to choose the former. This isn’t surprising if he really has a substantial amount of Mexican and/or redskin blood…those races just shouldn’t eat carbs. They haven’t evolved the capacity to process them without problems with insulin and insulin resistance.

    • Anonymous says:

      Vox is a Sigma in the socio-sexual hierarchy he devised, in part because he didn’t fit into the standard overly simply Alpha-Beta one. What you have to go through to become a Sigma and survive almost certainly makes you an “unnatural” but automatic asshole, and, yes, that appeals to many women. Speaking from personal experience.

      • peppermint says:

        Why, because Sigma is the best and Vox is the best? Did he even call himself that?

        Asterix is an alpha, Getafix is a sigma.

  15. lalit says:

    Aaah! you are going up against Fred Reed. I used to read Reed in the days I was a Libertarian. Memories!

  16. pyrrhus says:

    Natural selection, which is what you mean by Evolution, is essentially a mathematical process…About 1 mutation in 10,000 is beneficial in any way, and depending on how sizable an advantage it provides, and the luck of the owner in reproducing, it may spread through a population.This is an extremely slow process, and many have questioned whether there was sufficient time for it to progress from viruses to humans…There is also introversion, which is the acquisition of genes through mating with another species or subpopulation…An important example is the acquisition by our ancestors of certain beneficial neanderthal genes 60,000 years ago. No one doubts that these processes go on constantly…
    But natural selection, which of necessity is a very gradual process, says absolutely nothing about where the first life came from, or what causes the sudden appearance of species like the long necked giraffe, which required thousands of mutations in a brief period, most of which would have been lethal taken alone. Steven Jay Gould was so perplexed by this that he invented the theory of “punctuated equilibrium” , which didn’t turn out to have much substance. Charles Darwin was aware of this problem, but hoped that the fossil record would eventually develop to solve it…Didn’t happen.
    So your attacks on Fred and Vox Day are simply wrong, because you have conflated two things which are not related.

    • Reziac says:

      As a professional dog breeder with a specialty interest in pedigrees and in tracing mutation sources, I can tell you it takes about 20 generations for a recessive mutation to become widespread in a population, to the point that it is regularly seen, and that’s even when there’s some selection against it (animals that die before their time or become obviously ill, etc.) If it’s a dominant gene or there’s active selection for it, it can become widespread in 5 to 10 generations.

      A good realworld example is the recessive dilute (“silver”) gene in Labrador Retrievers, which being a single introduced gene, functionally spread the same as would any nonlethal recessive mutation with a single point of origin. The gene’s origin was an Elkhound crossbreeding in the late 1930s (no, it was not from a Weimeraner) in a mainstream bloodline that has tens of thousands of descendants. The first known examples of “silver” puppies happened about 1962; the next (that I know of) about 1980. Since then it’s popped up multiple times (but always tracing back to the same origin point) and with a little active selection for it, by ~2005 had become frequent enough to generate raging controversy.

      Another example is the CNM gene, which popped up in the late 1970s (while regarded as a mutation, chances are it came into Labs from a Greyhound cross). Despite being effectively lethal when homozygous, thanks to the popular sire effect, by 1990 probably half of all fieldtrial Labradors carried it. (Incidence has since declined considerably through negative selection and more recently, a DNA test.)

      So the notion that a nonlethal mutation takes tens of thousands of years to spread throughout a population is negated by realworld experience proving that it can happen very rapidly.

    • pissantclive says:

      the reusable rocket first flew 3 years ago

      the world wide web came into being about 25 years ago

      transistor invented 70 years ago

      first powered flight was 115 years ago and lasted a few seconds

      300 years ago world pop. was 600 million and 95% of all humans were farmers

      from 2,500 years ago to 500 years ago the most significant infrastructure was Roman roads

      in 10 million years the fossil record will be a few dozen gorilla and chimp skeletons, a few hundred to thousand vaguely AMH skeletons, some highly concentrated deposits of whatever minerals skyscrapers and concrete degrade into, and styrofoam, because styrofoam is eternal

    • Carlylean Restorationist says:

      “Evolution, is essentially a mathematical process”

      Nope, it’s a dialectical process. Even Maynard Smith didn’t understand that, but Dawkins does.
      Read “The Extended Phenotype” from a Hegelian perspective: everything that living things do changes other living and non-living things, while the nature of every living thing is an attempt to best mesh with living and non-living parts of the environment, including each gene on the same chromosome adapting to the others, sometimes cooperatively and sometimes combatively.

      Darwin’s our man. The big distraction in the modern age is that if you believe in Darwin, you have to stop believing in God. That’s simply false: it’s like saying if you’re for free markets and low taxes you have to believe in open borders and legalised pot.

      Darwin’s our man for the secular task of understanding biology.

      Jesus is our man for the holy task of understanding society. It demeans God to hang belief in His laws on whether or not biology can solve some arbitrary problem.

    • pdimov says:

      >and many have questioned whether there was sufficient time for it to progress from viruses to humans

      There wasn’t. But the assumption of a tree of life, created by gradual random change shaped by selection, is false due to horizontal gene transfer (some of which non-random) and hybridization. That is also why different methods give slightly different trees.

      • peppermint says:

        horizontal transfer is only significant in bacteria

        • Yara says:

          Sure, but pathogens leave stuff behind, and sometimes they splice stuff in, and so there is occasional transfer, and sometimes the transfer ends up being of star-stuff importance.

          • peppermint says:

            i mean, if splicing in a few genes is all it takes for a horizontal transfer, it won’t be genocide when we turn all the subhuman garbage in the world into us by giving them the genes for being cool. We won’t even have to destroy the horcruxes of the jews, the holocaust memorials, that probably contain aerosolized spores of superaids

          • Carlylean Restorationist says:

            What does it matter? Horizontal transfer is indistinguishable from random mutation except insofar as it’s sometimes faster.

            Whoopidoo, so instead of radiation from the environment warping your genes, it’s biomatter in the environment warping them.

            It’s a difference that makes no difference. Living things try to carry on doing exactly what they’re doing into the future and sometimes they end up changing slightly, in spite of their best efforts.
            In the long run, this is often a good thing.

  17. Mister Grumpus says:

    If I had a few bucks (and some do) to go look for the comet-riding astro-critters, how and where would you best guess that I go about this?

  18. StoneMan says:

    “You can also explain it as the curse of Eve, but if you explain it as the curse of Eve, it is rather arbitrary. Why did God curse women that way, and not some other way?”

    Theological arguments notwithstanding, reactionaries of all stripes can recognize that an arbitrary schelling point is still a schelling point. If evolution made them that way, what’s to stop us from trying to make them ‘evolve’ into something better than what evolution made them? If the will of Gnon, we should bow before His decrees.

    People who don’t understand the logistical problems of communism won’t understand the logistical problems of altering evolution, either. Sex-Lysenkoism can be avoided by invoking the curse of Eve.

    • Samuel Skinner says:

      “If evolution made them that way, what’s to stop us from trying to make them ‘evolve’ into something better than what evolution made them? ”

      That is conflating to seperate things. One is improvement on a defined metric (which eugenics can achieve) and overcoming self interest (which has a snowball chance in hell of working and is always cover for something else).

  19. Koanic says:

    That the systems look reused is actually evidence of webs of hybridization.

    Vox starts from a lower racial altruism due to his nonwhite admixture, and therefore talks less about overcoming the inappropriate pedestalization of women by NW Europeans. His actual skills with women are fine.

  20. hmm.vox day has a wife and a kid. can’t be that bad with women. Evolution is probably the most parsimonious explanation, of the alternatives.

    • Gilberto Carlos says:

      Yeah, thing is, most men can do that, plenty of beta males do it.

    • Nikolai says:

      I’ve often thought “why do I need to learn game? I see all these clueless betas with wives and kids, they seem to be doing alright.” Thing is, that’s a massive oversimplification.

      It is not all that hard for a beta to get and keep a wife. Plenty of women who are nearing the wall want a provider to settle down with and most of these women will take an average guy with a good job over being a catlady. But men in such marriages routinely fail shit tests without realizing it and end up in sexless marriages where the wife shows him nothing but disrespect and contempt and the guy just takes it. So the marriage looks “successful” in that they don’t divorce, but obviously unsuccessful if you take a closer look at their dynamic.

      It’s not even that hard to attract a girl. Just do what Jim says and act like an overconfident offensive and threatening jester. What is actually difficult, so difficult that even Trump went through two divorces, is having a traditional marriage. Marriage as it was understood from Biblical times to 1820 where the husband loves and cherishes the wife and the wife honors and obeys the husband until death do they part. In the modern world it takes a miracle to get a woman to obey you for more than a few months at a time. Feminism is so ingrained in the culture that almost every woman will violently resist her deepest desire for the firm hand of ownership and every institution and most individuals that see any semblance of patriarchy try to tear it asunder.

  21. […] Source: Jim […]

  22. Carlylean Restorationist says:

    “Life from non-life” – this is really No True Scotsman: is green algae really alive? What about an ant? Is the HIV virus alive? What about a fragment of RNA that transports genetic material horizontally between bacteria? Is the fragment alive?
    If I pick my nose, is my bogie alive? What about if my right hand offends me: will it still be alive after I cut it off?
    Is the head of a western hostage alive, or the body? Both? Two souls?

    It works like this: we know for sure that WE are alive, just as we know that WE (I’m guessing most of us) are white.
    Sure “there’s no such thing as white people” if you really want to over-think it, but we know what a white person is and is not, and the fuzziness of the idea actually makes it more, not less, useful.

    OK so we know we humans are alive (with some fuzziness around persistent vegetative states, profound disabilities and so on) and due to chronic similarities we can extend that to a wide range of animals too: your dog’s definitely alive (again some fuzziness around comas and so on) and your pet gerbil’s definitely alive (hollywood notwithstanding).

    Once you get to the level of an ant, you can sort of be a hypocrite: yes it’s alive – look it’s walking around! But on the other hand I’m not a monster if I kill it, whereas if I kill your gerbil I’m a pretty bad man and if I kill your dog I should probably go to court: if I kill a bonobo I’m probably going to prison.
    So what about smaller, simplier, more alien life forms?

    Am I committing vegan murder if I clean bacteria out of my smoothie-maker?

    There doesn’t have to be a clear line beyond which all members are bearers of life (with or without souls) and in front of which all members are mere inert matter, some of which replicates itself.

    That’s exactly how it is in the most extreme scenarios: is the first fully autonomous naked gene self-sufficiently replicating ALIVE? If it is, what work is there for this magical spark to do? What work isn’t getting done in the non-alive non-fully autonomous naked geneoid replicating with assistance?

    Daniel C Dennett is not on our side (though other than the God thing, he’s not egregiously hostile to us) but books like “Intuition Pumps”, “Freedom Evolves”, “Consciousness Explained” and “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea” should be required reading for reactionaries and right-wing dissidents.

    • jim says:

      > is the first fully autonomous naked gene self-sufficiently replicating ALIVE?

      Trouble is that it does not appear that a naked gene can autonomously replicate. If a naked gene could replicate, we would have a plausible account of the development of life from non life.

      • Carlylean Restorationist says:

        I don’t think that’s the case, but I don’t have the good sources for this.

        I know some of the complications: in the mature world, naked genes would just get eaten; naked genes leave no fossils; early life (or ‘life’) has long since been replaced by new improved models; early life by its very nature changed the environment.

        The other fuzzy line is autonomy: is a replicator fully autonomous if it exists in a friendly soupy environment?

        The Dawkins take is basically that replicators are easy enough given enough time, and assuming the generation time of very small things is a matter of minutes not years, there’s plenty of time – and plenty of planets (assuming the dubious exoplanet stuff isn’t nonsense).

        Memes are a good example of replication emerging from non-replication. Start off with ideas developed in full from the basic bare bones of reality and very quickly you end up with ‘clumping’.
        Indeed a case in point is computer programming: sure strictly speaking all you need is an accumulator(register) able to do the following: turn a BIT on or off directly or conditionally on the current state of the BIT.
        But in practice you quickly end up with standard templates for shift operations, mass loading in a loop, etc. etc.
        and before you know it you’ve gone from “LD (NN), XX” to “Method TComplexClass.SetMetaState(TFancyThing) virtual abstract;”

        • Anonymous 2 says:

          There is also that DNA by itself doesn’t swim around, feed, fight or do anything. Replication of DNA requires a separate collection of enzymes to perform the various operations like forking, elongating, etc.


          Building an actual cell requires synthesizing many products, like proteins, which requires a separate DNA interpreter. And much more. (What is RNA you ask?) It’s fascinating but enormously complex even for the simplest unicellular organisms.

          Presumably there must have been a far, far simpler starting point for self-replication to start from scratch and evolve into the current state of affairs.

          Should we be able to observe such starting points all over the place?

          • Reziac says:

            Some DNA and RNA does indeed float about stark naked, in the form of primitive viruses. Whether those viruses are actually alive or are just a complex chemical reaction is open to debate, but a great deal of the DNA in bacteria and higher creatures has been ID’d as originating from viruses. (Vaguely recall a figure like 40% for human DNA)

            Whether we presently have conditions conducive to originating life is a good question. Occurs to me to wonder if, taking as true the abiogenic theory of petroleum production, perhaps conditions deep in the Earth’s crust are actually more like what’s required to kickstart that complex biochemistry.

            • Anonymous 2 says:

              Note that viruses are not naked DNA/RNA but enclosed in capsules for camouflage, protection, getting into cells and so on. For instance, influenza is a sphere floating about, while bacteriophage is more something from the Matrix. They still require the reproductive machinery of cells.

              Regarding the abiotic theory, I’ve always found it more intuitive than the fossil theory. Is it really plausible that diatoms and such can leave such vast deposits so deep underground? But I can’t say I’ve studied the field even cursorily, so take that for what it’s worth.

              • Reziac says:

                Not all of them. Some viruses have been discovered which are nothing but naked fragments of DNA. That they can’t reproduce on their own… that’s one of the arguments against ’em being life in the technical sense. Might be more reasonable to consider it a border area rather than “alive” or “not alive”.

                I agree on abiotic theory — oil has been found as deep as 7 miles, which is about 3 miles below the deepest fossils (according to what I could find online; not my field either). Absent an explanation for how seriously-vast amounts of biomass got down that deep, it’s more logical that it comes up from below. I think it’s quite reasonable to conclude that deep-crust pressure plus primordial carbon may produce long-chain carbon molecules (ie. petroleum) and that this deep pressure also squeezes the liquified carbon upward. And that primordial carbon is probably fairly evenly distributed in the crust (and below). Consequently I’d guess oil could be found almost anywhere, if only you drill deep enough; what we consider “oil reserves” are probably only the upper seep.

          • Prism says:

            Jim, researchers have made significant progress towards the development of a RNA enzyme that can assemble more copies of itself out of RNA nucleotides. Right now they have one that can self-replicate out of short sections (10 base pairs):


            Still a ways to go before we can make a simple enough “bootstrap” for life.

            • jim says:

              If you slice an encyclopedia into short fragments, and you slice and dice a dozen copies in a dozen different ways, you can reassemble the encyclopedia from fragment overlap – but the information was supplied by the fragments.

              The information is embodied in these sections. If they could self replicate out of individual base pairs, that would plausibly explain the origin of life from non life, but that bears no resemblance to what is happening.

              The way it works is that fragment B overlaps with fragment A and fragment C, and thus causes fragment A and fragment C to attach. This is not de-novo replication by naked RNA. The RNA is not replicating itself, it is replicating information supplied by researchers. This is a gimmick, it is not a step towards self replication of naked RNA.

              For it to be step towards self replication, it would need to be able to assemble in an environment of random fragments, ignoring fragments that differed from itself – it would need to copy itself, rather than copying data supplied by the researchers.

          • Carlylean Restorationist says:

            The trap with all this talk about a hard, unknowable and long ago problem like this is that the GotG is just waiting to step in.

            Ha Dawkins, you don’t know how that happened? There you go then, I *told* you God did it!

            The thing is, faith in God absolutely does not require Creationism of any kind at all. We don’t embrace the Truth because of biology or history or whatever: we embrace it because it’s True – do these things, follow these rules, and your society will be orderly, peaceful, decent, happy and prosperous – go against them and it’ll go to s*%!.

            • Anonymous 2 says:

              Though consider that if your metaphysics is scientific naturalism, you are excluding God or similar causes as valid explanations, or Truths, from the start.

              Relatedly, it’s somewhat amusing to read about the wild-eyed atheists in Silicon Valley going on about us all being in a simulation. Mmm-hm?

              • Carlylean Restorationist says:

                I don’t think that’s true at all.

                How else would an omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent designer do the design-work other than by an infinitely parallel application of total information in a process that’s proven capable of beating everything the universe can throw at it for billions of years?

                The blasphemy is refusing to accept Darwin’s discoveries and insisting that God’s a designer in the same way as you or I are designers. God’s not that much like us, which is why the whole “become literally human” thing’s so movingly powerful….. and what did He say while He really was one of us? It’s all about Truth.

                • Mike says:

                  My 1/2 cents in this interesting haggle is that God designed everything, but with plausible deniability – He wanted to give us free choice. Therefore, you’re free to choose whatever hypotheses/interpretations you want to explain the origins of life. So I suspect that while folks may come REALLY close to finding mechanisms for life’s origins, there will, conversely, always remain room for Creationists and their approach: Faith in a loving Creator.

      • Cloudswrest says:

        Early life was probably far more complex and Rube Goldberg than modern life. You can think of the complexity as “scaffolding” to help it get started and then later evolved away and was shed as life became better adapted and more streamlined to the environment.

        • jim says:

          Maybe, but you still have not envisaged the transition from nonlife to life, not envisaged the minimally complex system that can copy itself.

          • Cloudswrest says:

            A thought occurred to me after writing the above. Human technology has still not achieved artificial life, e.g. nano-assemblers or von Neumann probes. Assuming we eventually do the “scaffolding” mentioned above would be human civilization. Which would no longer be needed and shed after the probes are set free. But this just begs the question of intelligent design. Life just begetting life, albeit an entirely new form.

            • Yara says:

              The really terrifying thing about perception is that we can only perceive that which exerted selective pressure on our ancestors. There are other things, presumably, but of which we do not know or are incapable of knowing. If we managed to beget a new form of life, it might be entirely unaware of us; if we come from an old form of life, we might be entirely unaware of it.

    • Anonymous 2 says:

      Sorry to refer you to wikipedia, but it lists the points that are currently used to distinguish life from non-life.


      • Carlylean Restorationist says:

        You’re entirely missing my point.

        What I’m saying is that there’s no reason whatsoever for there to exist a qualifying line with everything on one side living and everything on the other side non-living, such that a small change to something non-living that almost qualifies into something living that definitely (just) qualifies can be pointed to as THE point.

        It’s “the missing link” all over again.

        “Life vs non-life” is an intuition pump, designed to produce a particular intuition, namely something mysterious and unknowable distinguishes living from non-living and you’d better not try to understand it beyond a certain point because mystery.

        Obviously a blond Nord is white and obviously a black Zulu is black, but where do you draw the line? Colin Powell? Gary Wilmott?
        There’s no need to draw the line at all – take each case on its merits and include as much information as you need to in order to decide what to call someone (things like “what they call themselves” are often helpful here).

        If you observe a molecule spreading through self-replication and you want to call that ‘living’ then go ahead, but be aware there’ll be those who disagree with you and say it’s just a ‘crystal’ or whatever.

        • pdimov says:

          In this context life is something that can evolve. Non-life cannot evolve. Therefore, in order for evolution to take place, life must appear first.

          • Carlylean Restorationist says:

            You’re still seeking a special ‘finish line’ with everything living on one side and everything non-living on the other.

            It rarely works like that with biology.

            Not all extant life evolves and remember the main task of all life is to explicitly avoid evolving.

            Consider a hypothetical creature: an asexually reproducing fascist clone spider that eats any spider that ‘looks weird’. Such a creature would never evolve at all.

            Many creatures that do technically evolve do so in very minute ways, such as the horseshoe crab. Pretty much a plateau on ‘mount improbable’ as it were.

            Evolution cannot be your magic bullet if some living things do not evolve and many non-living things do evolve. (Such as languages.)

            • pdimov says:

              I seek nothing. The point is that if you have life capable of evolution, you can say “evolution magic happens for a few billion years and we have what we have”. If you don’t, you can’t. No matter how many billion years, no magic.

              So to invoke magic, you first have to show how life appeared.

              • Carlylean Restorationist says:

                Can you understand the point I’m trying to make here?

                What you’re all asking for is equivalent to the following:

                Where is the missing link? If you cannot show me the fossilized skeletal remains of the first human, next to his non-human mother, then God did it.

                All I’m saying about “the” “origin” of life is what you’d say to the above:

                There is no missing link. There are many skeletal remains fossilised that are obviously not completely human but obviously very closely related to modern humans. Each one of them had parents much like themselves and the differences accrued in ten generations were as striking (and not more striking) as differences acrued in the last ten generations of living humans.

                That’s all I’m saying about “the” “origin” of life: a series of non-living things (however you want to define that) began to look disturbingly life-LIKE while still being non-living things by your definition. No one single one of these gave rise to a definitely living thing by your definition, any more than one particular non-human animal gave birth to a fully human human.

                • pdimov says:

                  >a series of non-living things (however you want to define that) began to look disturbingly life-LIKE while still being non-living things

                  The problem with the analogy is that for humans we can invoke evolution as the mechanism that produced them, whereas for the series of non-living things we cannot. So we need to posit some other mechanism. “Began to look”? How did that happen?

                • jim says:

                  We have plenty of examples of non human creatures related to ourselves by varying degrees, including the highly embarrassing Tasmanian aboriginals.

                  No one has even envisaged an early simple form of information that copies itself. The naked RNA gene proposal (a virus with no cell to infect) turned out to just not work. The minimum system that can copy RNA or DNA turns out to be complex and to look remarkably like life.

                • Carlylean Restorationist says:

                  So living things are the products of a gradual, evolutionary process; cultural artefacts are the products of a gradual, evolutionary process; the chemical composition of planetary atmospheres are the products of a gradual evolutionary process………… but cell replication is the product of ‘all done’ insta-design work?

                  It’s absurd.

                  There’s no finish line: some things which are clearly not living are related to other things which are grey areas, which are in turn related to other things which are clearly living.

                • Carlylean Restorationist says:

                  “No one has even envisaged an early simple form of information that copies itself.”

                  What about something that copies itself with the help of geological features? A bird’s nest isn’t alive and neither’s the hole that some fish lay their eggs in: are fish not alive?

                  There could be pseudo-lifeforms whole sole purpose is to translate RNA into protein precursors. It’s not unthinkably absurd: mitochondria are known to have once been free-floating organisms and all they do is produce energy from fuel.

                  Not much of a leap from mitochondrial non-mitochondria ancestors to something similar but simpler that just sticks to energy production without bothering to reproduce itself at all, like a simple turbine.

                • jim says:

                  A bird is alive. A bird’s nest is not. I don’t see the relevance of your point. Nothing you say has any particular relevance to embodying information such that it succeeds in copying itself. The bird’s nest is not copying itself. The bird is building a nest.

                • Carlylean Restorationist says:

                  It’s very simple: the nest is not part of the bird, but without the nest, the bird could not reproduce, hence is not alive(lol).

                  Assuming we all agree that birds are alive, even though part of their reproductive system is neither alive nor even a bird, it’s unreasonable to suppose that ‘the’ ‘first’ living thing had to do all the work itself, any more than a bird does.

                • jim says:

                  If you continue posting stuff with no point, I am going to start deleting you as a waste of reader bandwidth.

                  It does not matter what your proposed copying system gets for free. Assume free atp, free ribonucleosides. You have to propose a way of embodying information that can plausibly copy itself. If your next post is similarly irrelevant – make no such proposal – i will delete it as a waste of space.

                • Carlylean Restorationist says:

                  If birds and nests are too tangled up, think of a fish that lays its eggs in a hole in the rocks: it didn’t even make the hole, but without the existence of the hole, no reproduction can occur.

                • jim says:


                  To show that non life can arise from non life, you need an example of information embodied in a form that could plausibly copy itself that could plausibly arise from nonlife.

                  No one has proposed such a form. The naked gene idea, a virus neither a capsid nor a cell to infect, just does not work.

                • Yara says:

                  >To show that non life can arise from non life, you need an example of information embodied in a form that could plausibly copy itself that could plausibly arise from nonlife.

                  >No one has proposed such a form. The naked gene idea, a virus without a cell to infect, just does not work.

                  Natural selection demands no irreducible complexity. If self-replicating molecules are irreducibly complex, then we need a better mechanism by which to explain evolution. I’m satisfied with the natural selection mechanism, having not encountered a superior explanation, and so I find it easy to imagine a long-gone soup of self-replicating proteins in which, given a billion years, natural selection had the opportunity to act.

                  A subterranean lake has supposedly been found on Mars. I would not be surprised if there was microbial life in that body of water. I would be surprised if it were not identical to Earth life in fundamental structure for the simple reason that the least complex configuration to support the simplest form of self-replication is probably many orders of magnitude less complex than any of the others.

                  We have not even escaped the gravity well of our birth. There is much we don’t know. Argument from ignorance is not an argument.

              • Carlylean Restorationist says:

                The same’s true of ‘the’ ‘moment’ of consciousness by the way. Benjamin Libet claimed to show that we don’t have free will because our finger moves before we decide to move it.
                If the mind is the brain, his claim has to be nonsensical.

                • Yara says:

                  In a physical sense, to have free will would demand absolute chaos, for the only way that we could be perfectly independent of the world is if we had some sort of portal in our mind to this absolute chaos with which we might be able to act perfectly irrationally, like some sort of extra-Universal /dev/random. Naturally, this is hogwash; we cannot act upon the Universe from outside the Universe, and so any possible thought can be merely an elaboration, however incredibly sophisticated, of raw, bare-metal neuronal impulse. This is in no way to demean conscious thought, because we are incredibly sophisticated, but it does mean we shouldn’t think that “we” are somehow outside and above “our brains”, immaterial spirits temporarily imprisoned in flesh; nay, we are our brains, and part of coming to terms with our own humanity is understanding that, yes, the part of the brain that moves the finger is a “lower” part than the part that backwards-rationalizes why we’ve moved it, and the only means by which the backwards-rationalizing part has any control over the finger-moving part is by “editing” how it will behave, given similar inputs, in the future.

                • Carlylean Restorationist says:

                  Yara says: “to have free will would demand absolute chaos, for the only way that we could be perfectly independent of the world….”

                  This is why I keep recommending that people in these circles read Dennett. “Freedom Evolves” hones the question. Do you *really* have in mind when you think about free will, being ‘perfectly independent of the world’?

                  We talk about being committed to an idea, determined to complete a task, etc. so a large part of human action consists actually in being unfree.

                  The kinds of free will that are actually worth caring about are stuff like “can I do better in the future?”, “can I safeguard against negative outcomes?”, that sort of thing, and our everyday experience proves that we do indeed have a large endowment of that kind of freedom.

                  What we can’t do is go back and re-take the EXACT same golf shot. Fine, but what does it matter?

                  (Obviously Dennett’s book doesn’t reduce easily to a comment sized paragraph, but suffice to say all the worthwhile objections and complications you’re about to type out are addressed, and the whole thing’s contextualised within the rich, diverse philosophical literature on the subject to save you having to go to primary sources, which are listed if you want to do so anyway.)

                  “Freedom Evolves” – the application of Darwinian evolution to the compatibility of determinism and free will.

            • jim says:

              Life is information that copies itself. No one has proposed a form of information that copies itself that could appear from non life. The naked gene proposal just does not work. Copying a gene requires the minimum cell, and the minimum cell is far too large and complex to appear by random chance. You just cannot copy a gene with anything less, because if you could, such genes would exist in favorable environments.

              This does not prove that it is impossible, but you are glibly talking as if it was trivial, obvious, and in front of our noses, as if non life shading into life was in front of our eyes, the way that one species shading into another species is in front of our eyes.

              Any form of information that copies itself that could appear spontaneously cannot be embodied in genes, or anything remotely resembling genes, for if genes could be copied by anything simpler in a sufficiently favorable environment, they would be.

              • Carlylean Restorationist says:

                Dear dear dear, I’m becoming a hostile commenter and that was never my intention.

                There’s no finish line. There’s no principled line before which you’re non-living and after which you’re living.

                By definition under that system, it’s impossible for the living to emerge from the non-living, just as for a Creationist, it’s impossible for men to have evolved from monkeys because you’re either human or you’re not human, and every human has a human for a mother.

                There’s no need for there to be any such line.

              • Prism says:

                I really like this definition of life as information that copies itself. It’s simple, mathematical, and allows us to use information theory to make progress. With this definition, life can be measured in bits and reproduction rates in bits per second. Let’s use this to analyze the examples we have been discussing.

                The RNA strand that can assemble short chunks of RNA into copies of itself reproduces the information about the order of the chunks. If there are N possible ways the chunks could be assembled, then log base 2 of N bits of information are replicated. These bits of information are “alive”. If the short chunks each have length M, then there are 2M bits of information about each chunk’s sequence which are *not* replicated — this information is “inert” / “dead” / not alive.

                Our DNA’s information is quantifiably more alive, both because the total strand length is greater but also because the “chunk” size is 1 base pair instead of M base pairs. Note that life is a property of *information*, not matter. Matter *contains* information in the form of patterns.

                Let’s apply this to the bird / bird nest situation. The bird nest has a pattern containing information which is replicated, so the nest information is alive. However, this information is in a tight symbiotic relationship with the much larger amount of unique information present in the pattern of the associated bird. We do not think of the bird’s nest as being alive, but really it is just quantifiably much less alive than the bird.

                • jim says:

                  > The RNA strand that can assemble short chunks of RNA into copies of itself reproduces the information about the order of the chunks.

                  But it is not copying itself – If you gave it a different set of chunks, it would assemble a different strand.

                  The way it works is that chunk B overlaps with chunk A and chunk C, and then the RNA strand causes A, B, and C to assemble: And would do so regardless of the content of A, B, and C.

                  It is not copying the information present in itself. It is changing the information present in A, B, and C.

                  The experimenters give it chopped up bits of itself, and it glues them together. If they gave it chopped up bits of something else, would equally glue them together.

                • Carlylean Restorationist says:

                  Why’s everyone struggling with this?

                  I’m not at all claiming nests are alive, just that without them, birds would be dead: therefore if a bird can qualify as a living being in good standing, why does ‘the’ ‘first’ living thing have to work so much harder by taking on all the heavy lifting? It’s unreasonable.

                  ‘The’ ‘first’ living thing was by definition (assuming inheritance) virtually indistinguishable from its non-living mother. It’s *that* that rational Darwinians need to get their heads around.

                  It can be done: you’ve already done it with animals. If a Dolphin was once a tree-climbing creature, what qualified as ‘the first dolphin’? Answer: there was no principled finish line. A tree-climber did not give birth to a fish. The thing that gave birth to ‘the’ ‘first’ dolphin was a like (and as unlike) a modern dolphin as the thing it gave birth to: they were like mother and child, as it were.

                  (In fact they were exactly like mother and child, being in fact a mother and her child.)

              • Prism says:

                A good example of a simple physical process that fits your definition of life and that happens spontaneously is the transition from water to ice. A few molecules coalesce around some impurity to get the process started — this seed crystal then has a few bits of information related to the crystal structure and orientation. As the ice crystal grows, it “feeds” on the liquid water and the information pattern spreads until it runs out of water or runs into competing crystal domains with different orientations.

                We do not think of the growing crystal as being alive because it contains many orders of magnitude less information then we do. Also, there is no obvious way for this system to “evolve”. Evolution in this information-theoretic sense is the ability of a set of information to acquire / merge with other bits of information in order to replicate more effectively. Obviously clusters of information can compete, collaborate, and predate on one another at all scales.

                • Prism says:

                  “The experimenters give it chopped up bits of itself, and it glues them together. If they gave it chopped up bits of something else, would equally glue them together.”

                  The soup of chopped up chunks is missing the information content of the order of the chunks — the complete strand provides this, it is this information which is amplified.

                  Consider the simplest example of 2 chunks A and B. There are 2 possible orderings, AB and BA. Imagine that strand AB can enzymatically assemble A and B into AB. If we have a tank full of A and B we have 0 bits of information about the ordering. When we add 1 copy of AB to the mix, we have 1 copy of 1 bit of information about the ordering. Once the tank has reacted fully we have 10^30 copies of that 1 bit of information. A successful life form, by your definition.

                  What is unsatisfying about this being a base case for life is that we don’t see the inductive step for increasing complexity. We can get simple / spontaneously self-propagating information, what we don’t have is simple spontaneously elf-propagating information that can adaptively aggregate more information.

                • jim says:

                  > Consider the simplest example of 2 chunks A and B. There are 2 possible orderings, AB and BA. Imagine that strand AB can enzymatically assemble A and B into AB. If we have a tank full of A and B

                  Incorrect. They gave it overlapping chunks. Would not have worked had they only given it A and B where A is one part of the original strand, and B is the next part of the original strand. They had to give it A, B, and C, where B overlaps A and C.

                  The assembly was not driven by the information in the strand, but by the redundant additional information in the overlaps.

                  It was similar to DNA repair, not to DNA copying.

                  The way the strand was reassembled was dictated by the redundancy of the overlapping segments, not by the strand, hence, not copying.

                  Maybe if they had the right strand, it could assemble itself, but that was not what this strand was doing.

                  To assemble itself, it has to use itself, or a copy of itself, as the template, which means it has to make two passes over the information, one pass in one way, and another pass in a different way. This was a one pass system. They were not even trying to create a two pass system.

                  To be realistic, the strand has to act as a template for assembly, and the same strand, or another copy of the same strand has to act as a catalyst to stitch together the assembled items. Two passes, one as template, one as catalyst.

                  This is a problem because when you make the physical conditions such that the strand is unwound to act as template, it is not wound to act as catalyst. Maybe a two pass system can exist, but they did not create it.

                  RNA just does not work like that. If it is suitable for copying, it is unsuitable for catalyzing. Maybe something else, “pre RNA world” could work like that, but RNA just is not a goer.

                  Maybe something else that would work could exist. No one has any evidence that it could not exist – but equally no one has a concrete proposal.

                • jim says:

                  > The soup of chopped up chunks is missing the information content of the order of the chunks — the complete strand provides this, it is this information which is amplified.

                  Redundancy means the soup of chopped up chunks contains the order of the chunks.

                  Suppose you chop up the word “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”

                  If you chop it up into “Super califr agili stice xpia lido cious” then information about the order of the fragments has been lost. And if you can reassemble it into “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” without assembling similar amounts of every other order, then indeed the strand is supplying information.

                  But if you chop it up into “”Sup uper erca cal alifra frag lifra agil gilis listi tic icexp expia pialid lidoc ocio ious” information has not been lost.

                  Maybe you are thinking of a different experiment to the one that I recall, but the one that I recall cheated in that soup of chopped up chunks provided massively redundant information about the order of the chunks.

                  It was one pass, but information that copies itself needs to do two passes – templating and catalyzing both.

                  To the best of my recollection, the best that has been achieved is one pass. Which does not prove that two passes are impossible under earthlike conditions, but which fails to support the proposition that it is possible.

                  RNA routinely acts as a template and a catalyst, so in principle, should be possible. Not shown to be impossible. Not yet shown to be possible. Actually existent RNA performs one role or the other.

                  The crucial experiment is to create a naked RNA strand that performs both roles, performs two passes on the data. Not yet accomplished. Starting to look as though it needs something other than RNA to accomplish that.

                  The way RNA works in practice is that very long, enormously long, strands of RNA are made from DNA, and then these strands catalyze extensive re-arrangements, actively processing information in complex ways. And the output of this extensive data processing by RNA acting as catalyst and a massively parallel data processing engine to transform RNA is a shorter and extensively edited strand of RNA, that often then acts as a template – but not as a catalyst or data processing engine.

                  RNA acts as software, computer hardware, and data storage. So, sure sounds like it should be possible to create a naked strand of RNA that replicates itself. But no such strand has been created. If it organizes itself as a computer, as hardware, is no longer organized as data.

                  If it was possible, I would expect that a virus would have evolved that performs its own replication within a living cell, using the resources of the cell, but its own replication machinery rather than the cell’s replication machinery. The absence of such a virus suggests that this just does not work and cannot be made to work.

                  Maybe before RNA world, there was a world in which organisms used something other than RNA and DNA, and maybe it worked with whatever they used back then.

                • Yara says:

                  >and maybe it worked with whatever they used back then.

                  And what do you think it was? Something pre-nucleic, prion-esque?

    • Cloudswrest says:

      The most concise definition of life is simply – Information that can copy itself, and learn (i.e. preserved successful mutations) in a natural environment.

      • jim says:

        Information that can copy itself has a certain irreducible complexity, since you have to do two passes over the information, one to use the information to build and control a copying device, and one to copy the information as is, literally and directly.

        Suppose you have an RNA molecule that spontaneously folds into a copying device. But it has to be unfolded during the literal and direct copying process. Oops. Have not seen anyone explaining how this could work, nor attempting to create RNA molecules for which this would work.

        Maybe we copy the anti sense strand, and the sense strand catalyzes the copying. Fine. But how do we then get more anti sense strands?

        • Carlylean Restorationist says:

          It’s just “the missing link” fallacy. As Lynn Margulis has shown, virtually everything’s symbiotic in virtually every way it can be.
          There’s no reason whatsoever why there can’t have been at one time a division of labour of ‘self’-replication between the thing being copied and the thing doing the copying, such that the thing doing the copying wasn’t living at all.
          Are nests living? What about little holes in the rocks?
          They’re pretty important if you lay your eggs in them.

          • Anonymous 2 says:

            The bird is just the mechanism for nests to make more nests, as they say.

            However, I’m leery of leaning on Margulis, who had a penchant for spewing unsubstantiated hypotheses and little patience for checking if they were real. Anyone remember her ‘oxygen holocaust’ where oxygen-generating bacteria swept the world, quickly killing the previous inhabitants? Turned out to never have happened. There apparently was quite a lot like that.

            • Carlylean Restorationist says:

              Well of course, and I’m certainly not on board with her work as a whole; it was primarily a rhetorical point. Let’s narrow it down: I assume you believe the theory that mitochondria began not as parts of eukaryotic cells but as independent prokaryotic cells, complete with their own genomes.

              If you accept that, then what I don’t understand is why ‘the’ ‘first’ life has to be non-symbiotic.

              If funnel web spiders require holes in the ground in order to survive, why must something uniquely vulnerable like ‘the’ ‘first’ life be robust enough to go it alone in a vacuum?

              It seems silly to me. Why not have a chemical engine for turning one very simple compound into a slightly more complex one that’s more useful in some other process? That engine can be 100% non-living.
              Add in two or three more of those.

              There’s no reason why something analogous to the Baldwin Effect couldn’t come into play, in which those variations of the setup that rely less on random contingency are ‘selected’ for.

              This is all one big ‘just so story’ but how can it ever not be? We’re talking about an alien world (no life, no widespread aerial oxygen, no organic fuels to speak of) populated by hypothetical undetectable beings.

              The point I’m trying to get people to recognise is that this idea of totally living stuff emerging magically from totally non-living stuff is just as silly as the idea of a gorilla giving birth to Charles Darwin.

              • Anonymous 2 says:

                For what it’s worth, I think it’s not an a priori bad idea. Seems more likely than life arising from some sort of clay beds, for example. But on the other hand, I’ve recently also seen another idea where life arises from deep sea vents, which apparently can provide a suitable environment. Perhaps that’s it? But then I turn around and see that Freeman Dyson has proposed yet another paradigm for origins, and he’s a very smart guy.

                Conclusion: We’re a far way off from knowing.

                We’re talking about an alien world (no life, no widespread aerial oxygen, no organic fuels to speak of) populated by hypothetical undetectable beings.

                Note that some bacteria can fossilize, so these life-precursors might be detectable even if small.

                I still think it’s odd we don’t see them anymore, though. Can life only arise in these hostile environments (hot or cold), then flourish in our ordinary world? Seems awkward. Also, getting to self-replication would need quite a lot of experimentation, which makes me think the conditions for these experiments (or precursors) should be common rather than rare.

        • Yara says:

          Why must initial life contain its own self-replication machinery?

          • Carlylean Restorationist says:

            Exactly: no reason at all. “Life” could very well have gone through stages where the things being replicated depended not just on what we normally call an ‘environment’ (chemistry in the surrounding fluid, energy sources, etc.) but also on various kinds of support mechanisms – anything from warm holes to little irregularities in sand/stone, to pseudo-living beings that are capable only of very very modest tasks such as ‘eating’ (in the sense that a bucket of acid will ‘eat’ a sandwich – it won’t tend to get fat).

  23. Yara says:

    >Vox Day is shit at women

    Just look at his face. He looks like a metaphorical metaphysical deity smacked him across the face with a soyfish sometime between conception and adulthood. Clearly, the discipline of physiognomy did not die a natural death.

    • The Cominator says:

      Vox’s wife is really hot but for some reason he comes across as a “bluepilled gamma” on the subject…

      • peppermint says:

        what kind of hot chick would call herself spacebunny

        • Yara says:

          The kind of woman who wants to accompany the impossibly masculine civil astronauts and Space Marines to Mars and beyond.

          The men will be spacemen, the women spacebunnies, and the children some witty title I haven’t thought of yet.

        • A.B. Prosper says:

          One married to a huge nerd like Vox Day

          Beale has has a very interesting background, author, columnist, publisher, game designer, D&D player, electronics designer, martial artist, track star, soccer coach (not pro) and techno musician and raised by a fairly dangerous tax crank of a father,

          Throw in an adult Christian conversion and you have the recipe for a fairly weird dude

          He 100% on the Right no doubt in my mind but everything is shown through a devout Christian lens and this will blue pill people at times

  24. Flat Lander says:

    I think that Vox is clear on the true nature of wahmen, but prefers not to talk about it for tactical reasons. The discontinuation of his Alphagame blog may be a clue.

    • Yara says:

      Failing to talk about women is like failing to talk about gravity, if every single person of any recognition whatsoever did not talk about gravity, heaped scorn upon those who dared mention gravity as conspiracy theorists, and spurned them as exiles doomed to eternally wander through the American waste.

  25. […] Evolution […]

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