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Dr. Katherine Pollard: What Makes Us Human?

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tabbat Avatar
Posted: 06.19.14, 10:56 AM
Brilliant talk, I'd love to see what updates would she have for now as this talk is 4 years old.
Donald Weetman Cameron Avatar
Donald Weetman Cameron
Posted: 09.05.10, 04:39 AM
@naturalpreservation Hi, I have read your response. I have a copy of His Book. I tried to read it, and found I couldn't get through it. Same with Gould's Book. I just couldn't tolerate the mixture of science and philosophy. Much like I find the mixing of science and technology intolerable. Science cannot do without technology. Technology can do without either. Darwin was living in the paradigm of a God molding man out of clay. Darwin "extended" (extense) that paradigm. We have been unable to add scope. The idea of evolution should have been cast out when we discovered DNA. Now with DNA we have scope but no pathway to extense. So it is not DNA either. So, on to complexity as implemented through technology. Complexity has been prorogued by math because of interested powers. There is little meaningful internet discussion on the topic. There needs to be some discipline applied to the use of the word. We have defined complexity in building our syntactical model. We view it as God's technology. Ah experience We define it as any given change to an aggregate that becomes an attribute of that aggregate. Life can exist without DNA, and the universe is alive.
naturalpreservation Avatar
Posted: 09.02.10, 01:29 PM
Donald, Humans record the effects of experience also. In fact we are the only species on the tree of life that can consciously express and record our feelings and thoughts in the external which feedsback (and feedsforward) onto other human peoples and minds over place and time. This unique dimension of behaviour (culture) in relative concert is (in my view) more influential on human thought and behaviour than biological and/or genetic considerations. Over the last 151 years evolutionary theory has struggled in trying to account for culture and despite a range of attempts they have all come up signiicantly short of the standard that Darwin set in explaining the evolutionary process in the organic world of nature. I'm sure that social science will realise the underlying mechanisms and at least one law of culture (our second nature) and some time soon. It's worth noting that the very first chapter of 'Origin' was about artificial selection, which is a real process of conscious design and then Darwin went on to metaphorise 'natural selection' for a process similar in the state of nature. There are key differences however. Human selection is directed whereas natural selection is not. Humans generate the ideas from which they select, nature requires random mutations and this is a profound difference. There is also the element of time which humans do not have in a way that nature does, Darwin referred to "unimaginable time" for evolutionary cycles to operate over. Crucially the very imperatives upon which human selection occurs can be quite different from natural selection. In a letter to Hooker he agreed that nature does for the good of the organism, culture for man's pleasure (also wrote for man's fancy). So for those who think that culture can be accounted for by natural selection they need to take on board these issues as well as: (1) Darwin didn't crack culture in his day, and (2) It hasn't been cracked since by evolutionary theory despite the fact that there has been more science conducted over the last century and a half than in the rest of recorded history, as well as the number of scientists. So it's not an inconsequential period of time. The most recent incarnation of sociobiological attempts to account and define culture comes from evolutionary psychology which is rather crudely trying to bypass culture entirely by referring to the unconvinving 'evolved psychology' which is of little utility when most humans from 2007 now live in the urban city setting, an artificial human construction which is the primary source of our experience, a matrix of trillions of human products, processes and practices all recording human expression in the external. So the next time you mention natural selection think of Darwin who in late September 1860 wrote three letters saying that if he had to start all over again he would have went with 'natural preservation' rather than 'natural selection'. It's an important difference because all too often neo-Darwinians talk about genes as the unit of selection, when they are the bookkeepers: the units of preservation. And watch out for the dropping of 'natural' and just referring to 'selection' as if it is an efficient agency with volition in order to refiy the process of evolution as purpose.
Luis Khalil Avatar
Luis Khalil
Posted: 06.15.10, 09:38 PM
I liked very much her speech: she is very articulate, I envy that (I am not, not even in my mother language). There is much study and thought, many years of it, behind the simple and beautiful way she expresses all that has been achieved in the field she describes. It is people like her that give hope to humanity and science. Overall, the speech faces us again with the mystery of the animal and the darkness about our being in the world. More than being people that live, sometimes I think we are instruments of life which perpetuates itself. Some religions say we should relinquish our "I", and in this sciences seemingly agrees with these religious views. But 'I', in particular, am very reticent about relinquishing my self: I rather be "selfish", or egoist (or egotistic) and relish in my particular I, or as the fancy say: "my ego". After all, it is like a best friend, and few other things in nature are as him: him = me, I.
Austin Mediocrity Avatar
Austin Mediocrity
Posted: 05.24.10, 04:28 PM
Creationist Straw Man
@Robert Rucker. I think you will find that she does not believe that we are descended from chimps but that she accepts the fact that humans and chimps have a common ancestor.
tjbogart33 Avatar
Posted: 03.19.10, 05:26 PM
Superb. Really going to have to listen to this one a couple of times.
Am-Expat Avatar
Posted: 02.24.10, 08:30 AM
Fascinating talk along lines they I've been reading about a lot lately. There are so many projects now that the human genome has been sequenced. The flood gates of new findings are coming directly from having that that significant research tool in place. You can hear her enthusiasm and genuine use of the word "fun" so often that there is no mistaking that this is an exciting time in science.
Donald Weetman Cameron Avatar
Donald Weetman Cameron
Posted: 02.11.10, 09:31 AM
algorithms @ 33:23
33:23 algorithms to search through the DNA. Writing algorithms is really tricky. Imagine how tricky the genomic algorithm is. You can't just do it. You have to practice. Nature practices, and somehow records the experience . 35:15 ticking like a clock. and at a constant speed. My head is spinning.
yuriythebest Avatar
Posted: 01.29.10, 08:20 AM
awesome vid- she is very smart, however overall the video quite depressed me since I realized how little scientists truly know about genes - at this rate no way we can make "immortality gene therapy" a possibility within our lifetimes
Contented-Ignoramus Avatar
Posted: 01.27.10, 05:14 PM
@Robert Rucker. No she does not think she has a chimp as a great grandparent. She repeatedly states throughout the talk that she subscribes to the scientifically accepted view that chimps and humans have a common ancestor that we both inherit large quantities of our genetic makeup from. Two different paths, though the start point is the same.