Not only was it an illusion, but it was a harmful one, because beneath the guise of objectivity there lay a hidden agenda, namely, an interest in domination. Treating people as objects of study, rather than as subjects, was not politically neutral, because it generated a type of knowledge that just happened to be precisely of the sort that one would need in order to manipulate and control them. Rather than striving for an elusive value neutrality, it would instead adopt a commitment to improving the human condition, then make these commitments explicit, as part of the inquiry, so that the entire exercise would be methodologically transparent.
Mixing developmental biology and evolution provides a wonderful perspective on evolution. A lot of the morphological changes in evolution are due to changes during development, so understanding how these interact helps provide a clearer model of biological evolution. We can now concretely see what genes and regulation factors exactly change throughout time, and explain the variability across organisms.
The metaphor evoked by this book would be something like a function with a small number of parameters that generates another function, which itself is evaluated for fitness. Can someone recommend a good book on evolution? I have a background in physical chemistry if that makes any difference.
One of them is punctuated equlibrium. Another is the importance of randomness in the history of life: Still another idea is that the past evolutionary history of species helps to shape their future. Gould also delves into the history of evolutionary thought in great detail.
The New Science of Evo Devo. Like, there are hormones which control each stage of development, and an overall body plan which gets built during gestation.
I think gradient descent is a very bad metaphor for evolution. In gradient descent, you have a fixed fitness function that you are optimizing. Organisms interact with each other. For example, flowering plants require pollinating insects. Even if you could consider the fitness of organisms in isolation, the environment is constantly changing, and adaptations that are good for one environment might be quite bad for another.
Human at the top, obviously, and bacteria at the bottom. Bacteria may be quite more successful than humans in many Darwinian ways. The ideas covered in it are also still surprisingly fresh. It was written in English and is still relatively close to modern work except for the total lack of knowledge of genetics.
But the mutation side of evolution is extremely important.
Peter March 12, at 4: How you think about the changing landscape IMO is shaped by which particular area of biology catches your mind. For a paleontologist, the fossil record is long and has poor time resolution. Arguably what you see in the fossil record has more to do with the way the local optima change over time than progress towards those local optima.
I think the idea is that natural selection causes species to track changes in the evolutionary landscape, and the changes in the evolutionary landscape are what causes a lot of the movements seen in the fossil record.
So a model for large-scale evolutionary history might be an explosion of branching random walks. Covering a much bushier space than a random walk caused by genetic drift without selection would cover, of course. Nancy Lebovitz March 12, at 1:Bring Out the GIMP (Girls in Merciless Peril) may Archives.
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