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Should Math Be Taught in Schools?

((Sad to say, this parody is hardly exaggerated at all. A few of the answers are almost verbatim to the actual answers of the Miss USA contestants to "Should Evolution Be Taught in Schools." Go watch that video on YouTube and see for yourself)).

(((There are days I think I am living in the world of Kornbluth's "Marching Morons." Just look at reality TV, and remember the hit show in his story)))

(((I am vastly pleased that the eventual Miss USA winner, and GAME OF THRONES fan, does "believe in evolution." And presuambly in math as well))).



Anthony Rosa
Jul. 5th, 2011 07:09 am (UTC)
Okay then.

First off, evolution is NOT "the answer to how life began." It is the change of allele frequencies over time in a population, and explains the vast diversity of life on the Earth.

You're looking for abiogenesis, and there is a lot of work being done in that field.

Anyway, as you asked, how do we know that evolution is true? We know this through multiple branches of evidence, actually.

First, we can tell by looking at genetics. Not only do we find that particular traits become more or less common in populations of living organisms due to the effects of the environment, but we actually can find what these traits are, and where they are in DNA.

We also know something called mutation occurs during the replication of code. These are mistakes that occur from time to time, such as substituting code from one part of the DNA strand to another, simple "spelling errors" where the wrong molecule is inserted, copying part of the code, deleting part of the code, etc, etc.

Not only does it happen all the time, we can see the physical effects of these mutations. There are flies who, due to a mutation, have legs where their antenna should be. We can find which part of their DNA was altered to make that effect, too.

However. Not all mutations are deleterious. Many are completely neutral. Some are, at least some of the time, beneficial. Take the mutation that allows most humans to have trichromatic vision. Not everyone has this allele, but most do.

Simply put, mutation is how alternate alleles of the gene come about. So, not only have we observed how certain alleles can become more common in a population over generations, we've also observed how these alleles come about.

Now, I'm skipping over huge amounts of terrain here, but we can use genes to tell who the parent of a child is. We can use those same techniques to tell how closely related species are. Look into things like phylogenetic trees. Seriously, google them.

Another thing to note is the breeding of plants and animals. You've noticed, surely, that dog breeds aren't naturally occuring, right? That through selective breeding, you can make things as varied as chihuahuas and great danes, from the same basic species. Well, Darwin's big idea was that the environment does the same thing in nature.

And as I pointed out above, we know how those traits the environment selects for come about in the first place.

Then we have a massive elephant in the room called fossils. We have vast numbers of fossils, literal mountains of them. They show a huge number of species that do not currently exist. And, funny thing, they show a huge number of changes over time.

You'll never find a rabbit fossil in a rock from the Cambrian period. But you'll find lots and lots of trilobytes! You'll find the fossils of ancient whales with vestigial legs. You'll find hominid fossils like Australopithecus, which have similarities to humans, but are quite different. Oddly enough, you'll never find homo sapiens bones in the same strata as Australopithecus. In a more recent strata, you'll find a fossil skeleton that's more similar to humans, but still recognizably different. Something like Homo Habilis.

Anyway, there's a lot of other details and important things to note, such as ring species (look them up, seriously), the observed evolution of entirely new traits in microorganisms, convergent evolution, comparative taxonomy, etc. Seriously, take a look.

How did humans come about? The same way every other species did. Keep in mind our particular traits aren't all that unique. In any case, look into sexual selection for some of the big theories on why our species' brains in particular became as big as they are. The people who support that may be barking up the wrong tree, but I don't know one way or the other.

In any case, if you want to know how we evolved, why don't you read a few books by the scientists looking into it? The same is true of abiogenesis. Take a look, you might be surprised by how much work has been done.

Naturally, I don't expect you to take my words on faith. If you want, I can back up my every word on this subject with citations as needed.

Or, you can do the cool thing and look up the science yourself, the way I did.
Jul. 6th, 2011 11:48 pm (UTC)
What is the difference between "evolve" and "adapt"? At what point is something a new species? How has it been proven that any one species evolved from...what? What did anything start as? Take the classic example, the eye. How did something that complicated occur? One mutation at a time?

Maybe I'm not smart enough, but i don't think evolution is the best answer to me.


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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