The following are scratchpad notes taken from Usenet , part of researching the concepts represented with NS1, NS2, NS3 and NS4 as defined at Naming Conventions. It will be sorted and compressed as time allows.

Notes Edit

Walter Remine seems to be one of the few authors who grasp that NS1 has no bearing on understanding the mathematical descprition of population dynamics, which involves masters degree level math insight. Darwin couldn't do math his concept is thus labeled NS1 withing his knowledge context, which had nothing to do with genes or poplation dynamics, these were unknown back then. Usage of the term "natural selection" in terms of genes should be NS2, 3 etc.

Remine on tautology Edit

I need to create a new thread, I think, because the other has gotten to be too much of a pain to wade through at Deja. Unfortunately, a lot of the messages never seem to show up on my end at MSN. My *kingdom* for perfect technology...!


Those following the other thread on Walter ReMine's book may have noticed that Scott has decided to enter the fray and has done so rather clumsily. Following the lead of "laser_thing," who claims to be Walter, Scott has failed to address the specifics of the discussion (i.e., "formulations" of natural selection and whether or not Walter ReMine argues that natural selection as described and applied by biologists is a tautology). Scott has chosen, instead, to claim alternately that I either haven't read "The Biotic Message" or that I fail to understand it.

Let the reader decide.

On page 98 of the book, Walter begins a discussion of tautologies. He starts by explaining what is meant by a tautology and he does so condescendingly (let's remember that his intended audience is not the science-minded, but creationists or those who are already of a mind to agree with his conclusions even before they bother reading the book). He then moves on to what is an implied sinister intent by adding,

"Tautologies are most dangerous when they are unobvious and escape our detection. In such cases we must unmask the tautology by plugging in the definitions of the words."

Which "definitions?" Why...Walter's, of course.

He then begins his discussion of natural selection. At no time does Walter accurately or completely present a discussion of natural selection or the evidence for it. Instead, he launches into various pieces of quote-mining in which "evolutionists" address the issue. After quoting Caplan from Godfrey's 1985 volume, "What Darwin Began," he writes:

"Natural selection is often formulated as a tautology."

ReMine doesn't say just who does this "formulating" (and chances are, this is where Scott gets the word, "formulation."). The reader is to assume that it's the evolutionists, themselves, who do this "formulating." He then writes,

"Natural selection is survival of the fittest, and the tautology hinges on the word _fittest_ [emphasis in original]."

ReMine has thus "defined" natural selection for us (remember his emphasis on the definition of words). He then declares that natural selection is a tautology based on a single word in *his* definition. He continues,

"When the fittest are identified by their survival then there is a tautology. We ask, who are the fittest? We are told, the survivors. We ask, who will survive? We are told, the fittest. Natural selection is then "the survivor of the survivors." It is a tautology."

These are *ReMine*'s statements - his definition followed by *his* application. He has not quoted any evolutionist actually definining natural selection (check it out...this discussion starts on page 98). *He* has defined it, and then adds "it is a tautology."

He then goes on,

"The tautology problem causes evolutionists to disagree among themselves about how natural selection should be formulated.

So ReMine tells us that there *is* a "tautology problem" and that this requires us to decide how "natural selection should be formulated."

Is Walter ReMine arguing that natural selection is a tautology? Walter says he's been misrepresented but won't discuss it further. Scott parrots this charge, but also won't elaborate. His questions imply that ReMine is *not* making this argument.

Walter's argument hinges largely on interpretations of Spencer's "survival of the fittest" summarizing statement with respect to Darwinian natural selection, a a summarizing statement, Walter claims, "Darwin himself endorsed." We are not told where Darwin did this, but I am checking his autobiography. We are then treated to a series of quotes from "evolutionists" in which this issue is allegedly addressed. I am checking the accuracy of the representation of the quoted material but, for the moment, this argument is limited to what is being claimed about natural selection in "The Biotic Message."

[There's no point in my reinventing the wheel to discuss here the refutation of the tautology argument. An excellent treatment may be found at - a reference I have already provided in the discussion but which, apparently, neither Scott nor "laser_thing" bothered to check.]

So ReMine presents us with a rapid-fire series of quotes and inserts his comments here and there, including,

"Thomas Bethell attacked natural selection as a tautology, and Gould acknowledges there is some truth to the charge."


"John Maynard Smith acknowledges that natural selection is often formulated tautologically."


"Even more surprising is the admission by Waddington that natural selection is a tautology."

Creationist arguments are generally about rhetoric and sophistry - not about the facts of the matter. Walter want us to know that Gould "acknowledges there is some truth to the charge" that natural selection is a tautology. Maynard Smith "acknowledges" this, as well, and Waddington even makes an "admission."

Walter is not just claiming that natural selection is a tautology, he's quote-mined so that he can presume to show his readers that evolutionists agree with this "charge."

Is Walter ReMine claiming that natural selection is a tautology?

Page 100:

"Natural selection says "the adapted individuals will survive." If adaptation and survival are synonymous [this is a big "if," in my opinion - DH], then natural selection is a tautology. To demonstrate an absence of tautology, evolutionists must show that adaptation and survival are different concepts. They must show that adaptation can be measured _independently of survival_ [emphasis in original]. In a direct rebuttal to the tautology objection, Norman Newell writes:

               Adaptation and survival are different concepts.  The


               utility of a trait within a particular environmental context

can be

               assessed and _the way in which this trait spreads or


               in a population is [emphasis Walter's] a test of the

pressure of

               natural selection and _a measure of adaptation_ [emphasis
               Walter's]. (Newell, 1982 [Creation and Evolution - Myth or
               Reality?], p. 167)

Walter goes on:

"He claims that adaptation and survival are different concepts. Yet next he says the way a trait survives (spreads or diminishes) in a population is a measure of adaptation. The two concepts are then the same. Contrary to Newell's intention, he has provided a tautology."

[I was not aware that a trait survives by diminishing, and even a first-semester logic student can see that Newell has not created his own tautology, as Walter claims. I suspect an examination of the original comments by Newell in context would be in order here. I am looking for this reference.]

Walter goes on:

"Douglas Futuyma also unintentionally gives a tautology."

           Natural selection is merely the replacement of the less able
           by the more able.  Able at what?  At survival and reproduction.
           ["Science on Trial," p 211]

And Walter translates for us:

"_Replacement_ [emphasis Walter's] in his context is just a different word for survivorship. So, we may substitute _survivorship_ [emphasis Walter's] into his statement along with his definition of _able_ [emphasis Walter's]. HIs statement then becomes, 'natural selection is merely the survivorship of the less able to survive by the more able to survive.' With this we see he has given a tautology."

I've already provided the above "translation" and more than one commented on the clear sophistry found within it. But the point here is that Walter is arguing that natural selection is a tautology. His own tactic, as he has said, is to define terms. He did that with "tautology," but, interestingly enough, he never really does that with "natural selection." He simply launches into a series of quotes from evolutionists that allegedly "admit" the "charge" that there is tautology in natural selection or "some formulations" of natural selection (depending on which quote we're reading).

In my view, ReMine is clearly arguing that natural selection as it is commonly understood and applied by biologists is a tautology. ReMine has responded by saying I have misrepresented him and that I have not read the book. Scott has replied and parroted those charges, but it's interesting that I'm the only one who pointed out that later, ReMine does add qualifications to natural selection to make it non-tautologous, but then it stops being natural selection, really. Walter chose not to acknowledge that or invite discussion. Scott and Walter both have not provided any specific citations from the book to show that there is *no* claim that natural selection is a tautology or any citation in which Walter says that natural selection is not tautologous. Alternatively, Walter himself could have gone beyond the claim that he was being misrepresented and he could have said outright that "natural selection is not a tautology" or some variation of that. He didn't do that. Newsgroup messages are generally saved for quite a while and those archiving services that don't keep them can at least provide them and that leaves the possibility that someone will keep it and quote it. If Walter claims in his book that natural selection is a tautology and then says in that it is not, that will be a contradiction. Someone will remember it and use it and I'm sure Walter is sophist enough to know that.

Did Walter claim that natural selection is a tautology? Of course he did.

--- "Virtue is not photogenic. What is it to be a nice guy? To be nothing, that's what. A big fat zero with a smile for everybody." - Kirk Douglas

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2. Dave Horn View profile More options Sep 2 2000, 7:00 pm Newsgroups: From: Dave Horn <> Date: 2 Sep 2000 12:57:59 -0400 Local: Sat, Sep 2 2000 6:57 pm Subject: Re: Scott, ReMine & Natural Selection Reply to author | Forward | Print | Individual message | Show original | Report this message | Find messages by this author As a post script to the "Comments about Walter Remine's book or major point" thread, please check out...

...and note the following comment by Scott:

"We ought to make a rule. All assertions require an accompanying argument."


"You provide no actual evidence that what you assert is actually the case, you merely proclaim that it is so."

...and this apparent chastizement of Wesley:

"Do you ever intend to rise above this sort of tactic?"

So the "tactic" from which Wesley (and presumably, according to the first quote, all of us) should "rise above" is the making of an assertion without an accompanying argument?


Scott's comments in the thread:

[Me] >... there simply is no new argument in "The Biotic Message."

[Scott] "An outright falsehood."

"Walter's book presents an entirely new argument and presents the evidence to support that argument. It is obvious to me that Dave Horn does not even comprehend that basic thesis of the book."

"What it shows is that you fail to understand his argument and what constitutes the foundation of his message theory."

"You completely missed Walter's point."

"I look forward to Mr. Horn's attempts to show that Walter has merely copied from the works of other 'creationists.' The bibliography alone would lead one to think otherwise."

"His [ReMine's] book is competently written."

"Whether natural selection is a tautology is dependent upon how it is formulated."

"You represent that Walter's argument regarding Natural Selection is that it is a tautology. This is plainly NOT Walter's argument regarding Natural Selection."

"His argument is that one formulation of natural selection is a tautology." [contradicts the comment immediately above] This is a fact recognized by evolutionists themselves."

[Walter] >> Yet evolutionists here allow his error to thrive. [Me] >Perhaps this is because no one seems to see the error, >and Walter seems very reluctant to describe the error >specifically. All he says is that there is error.

[Scott] "I agree with him. I also see the error."

[Me] >I have quoted specific sections. Walter - once - referred >to a couple of pages but again was not specific as to what >the error or misrepresentation was supposed to be.

[Scott] "It's obvious to anyone who has actually read what Walter wrote on the subject of natural selection."

"Walter's chapter on Natural Selection points out that this is precisely what evolutionists avoid when it comes to their formulations of Natural Selection."

"If you've read his book, you've seen examples of different formulations of Natural Selection, including ones that are mere tautologies."

"Someone who has read his book and can see through your dissembling."

"Walter provides examples of quotes from evolutionists where Natural Selection *is* a tautology. Does this mean that his argument is that Natural Selection is a tautology? By no means."

* * *-----

These are all assertions without an accompanying argument, a "rule" Scott insisted we should follow back in March. He's even presumed to chide others for this behavior (and right in the middle of being caught in a misquote, too...imagine that!).

I realize that not everyone will find that as interesting as I do...but there *is* a difference between "interesting" and "surprising."

It's not "surprising."

"Virtue is not photogenic. What is it to be a nice guy? To be nothing, that's what. A big fat zero with a smile for everybody." - Kirk Douglas

Sent via Before you buy.

The biotic message Edit

Walter Remine book: The biotic message

You have the book.

ReMine expends 2+ chapters and an Appendix on the subject of Natural Selection. He identifies at least four different formulations. You and Horn wish us to believe that Walter's argument consists wholly of "Natural Selection is a tautology" and nothing more, and that the only formulations he presents are ones that he identifies as being tautologies?

Oh, I see Horn is waffling on this now.


Usenet threads Edit

arsitotle darwin, evoution issue high ranking search engine

science law is metaphor Edit

Faith isn't science truism Edit

is darwin's theory a tautology Edit

Only if you insist on looking at it that way. On the other hand, if you actually want to conceive of natural selection as non-tautological, you could just take not of the FACT of random genetic drift, which provides an alternative to natural selection, and which demonstrates an alternative outcome of sorting, something other than "the fittest survive".

If you don't understand this, then go and look up a paper by A. Buri published in _Genetics_ about 30 YEARS AGO. Buri took the F1 of a large cross of two different Drosophila lines homozygotic for alleles A1 or A2 at a particular locus, and split it into many small populations. Each small experimental population was bred separately for many generations. Since all flies were A1/A2 heterozygotes at the start of the experiment, the initial frequency for allele A1 was 0.5 in each population. As the experiment progressed the allele frequencies diffused away from this. When the experiment was stopped, most of the populations were monomorphic, about half of these had lost A1 and the other half had lost A2.

When the same alleles are competed in a very large population, one of the alleles tends to do better. In Buri's experiment, either could be lost. So how is fitness defined, Onar? Think about it.

Instead of getting into deep philosophical conversations about whether natural selection is a tautology, why not accept the fact that there must exist a conception of natural selection that is not a tautology? Then you can start addressing more interesting questions, for instance, exactly what formulation of natural selection is not a tautology? Why does it appear to be tautologous when it really isn't?

Since Ernst Mayr's arguments apparently have not convinced you, I would suggest the following:

Susan Mills and John Beatty, The Propensity Interpretation of Fitness (anthologized in Elliot Sober's _Conceptual Issues in Evolutionary Biology_).

E.S. Vrba and S.J. Gould. The hierarchical expansion of sorting and selection: sorting and selection cannot be equated. Paleobiology 12(2), 217-228.


Arlin Stoltzfus ( Department of Biochemistry Dalhousie University Halifax, NS B3H 4H7 CANADA ph. 902-494-3569; fax 902-494-3569

Jerry Coyne Edit

On Feb 25, 1:11 am, Trader100 <> wrote:

> problems - the main one being that it made the whole thing into a > tautology, which it wasn't. The main difficulty is that our language > *is* voluntaristic, and we don't have a ready made vocabulary without > John Wilkins: > "... "survival of the fittest" is a verbal shorthand for complex math.

You will note how Wilkins contradicts himself on "survival of the fittest" by Spencer with Spencer's intent. SoF in the heat of battle as a general tells his soldiers "SoF" should be interpreted as a Tautological expression and not a proposition. On Wikipedia I carefully explained the difference between the two concepts. The mistake people make is to talk of "Survival of the fittest" *true meaning* which is like trying to tell us about the true meaning of "You have a green light". (See You have a green light and Survival of the fittest are semantics not pragmatics, it is the pragmatics we are after the intent. And your intent will be influenced by your intelligence, back ground knowledge etc.

So Spencer said "Survival of the fittest" and ever since we have had to endure asinine discussions about its "true meaning". What is the "true meaning" of "I love you"? Well who says I love you is the first thing we need to ask, in what context when where how with what intent, sexual, friendship unconditional? What do you mean.

In any case here is another tautology from Nov.2006 page. 77 --- "Living Longer"

"... For the most part, older people do not have children. If they did natural selection would favor those whose genes were associated with long life. Instead genes that hasten ageing or cause life-shortening diseases get passed along from one generation to another...."

= replace NS with Roger Rabbit Edit

"...If they did ROGER RABBIT would favour those whose genes were associated with long life. Instead genes that hasten ageing or cause life-shortening diseases get passed along from one generation to another...."

= asdf Edit

"...If they did ROGER RABBIT would favour those whose genes were associated with long life....."

= asdf Edit

"...ROGER RABBIT favors those whose genes are associated with long life....."

Question: How did Roger Rabbit manage to figure out those individuals whose genes results in longer life are favorable?

Do you see how natural selection can be replace with Wizard of OZ, Roger Rabbit and Ninja Turtles - it makes no difference to the tautology that those that are favorable have better genes and those whose genes are better are favorable. The term "natural selection" as concocted by Matthews and stolen by Wallace and Darwin is arbitrary.

Wikipedia's Natural Selection a Truism reformulated as a Tautology Edit ".....Natural selection is the process by which favorable ... traits become more common ..... and unfavorable traits less common ......"

rephrase: ".....There is some process out there by which favorable ... traits become more common in ..... and unfavorable traits less common ......"

The opening paragraph is a TruIsm "...there will always be traits that are more common...." reformulated as a TautoLogy ".... favorable traits become more common...." and equated with a logical impossibility: Natural Selection.

The materialists have decreed that the word selection must somehow be irrevocably equivocated with materialism. But in the days of Augustus 'selectus' and 'evolvere' had nothing to do with materialism, you can't hijack whole words in Latin and English and make them eternally associated with your materialistic world view. Selection as a word to encode for multiple concepts belongs to everybody.

Rephrase of Wikipedia to cut out the tautology and truism: There is some process out there by which traits become more common than others.

Rephrase to cut out the "more common" red herring: There is some process out there by which traits came to be in existence.

Rephrase since all animals have traits: There is some process out there by which organisms came to be in existence.

What is this process and in what paper did anybody explain how such a yet to be defined process explained how neural control got to be in animals never in contact with one another. The issue isn't the truism that "animals have traits" it how did the animal get into existence to begin with.

Irish times Edit On 19 Jul 2001 04:30:25 -0400, Féachadóir <Féach@d.óir> wrote:

- Hide quoted text - - Show quoted text - >Scríobh Gabh Mo Leitheid <> :

>[since you posted through, your post didn't make it to > I suggest you use Google to follow this thread in > where it properly belongs, in the meantime this post is >forwarded there]

>>I thought it was a nice piece, and not bizarre at all. >>Note that the piece doesn't argue for biblical creationism. >>It only argues against Darwinian evolutionism, pointing out some of its flaws >>and incompletenesses.

>>Besides the points raised in the piece, here are a couple more points against >>evolutionism, specifically the Darwinian evolutionism. >>(1) The Darwinists say that the force guiding evolution is "survial of the >>fittest". Who survives? The fittest. Who are the fittest? Those who survive. >>Why are they the fittest? Because they survived. Why did they survive? Because >>they are the fittest. It's just a vacuuous tautology ("vicious circularity").

From <>:

Pennock Edit

NOTES: Pennock equivocated between a Tautological expression and Tautological proposition.

"4.16: Natural selection is tautological: the fittest survive, and those who survive are the fittest. There are two problems with this objection. First, fitness is never defined in terms of an organism's ability to survive; rather, it is defined in terms of the organism's reproductive success. Fair enough, the creationist might say, but it is still tautological: the fittest have the most reproductive success, and those who have the most reproductive success are the fittest. But the second problem, which Robert Pennock reveals with a penetrating analogy, afflicts this reformulated creationist complaint, too:

'Consider the formula: May the best team win. It seems harmless, but the creationist now points out that we determine which team is best by seeing which wins. If that is what it means to be "best," then the expressed wish seems to reduce to "May the team that wins be the team that wins." It is thus vacuous dogma, objects the creationist, to subsequently claim to explain who won in terms of one team's being "better" than the other. However, we sports fans are not fooled into abandoning the game by such arguments. Of course we do determine which is the best team by looking at its record of wins, and we would certainly explain why it won the trophy by noting its superior record over its rivals. But we understand that this is not the end of the story...even though we do judge on the basis of record, we do not doubt that it is the physical traits of a team, its superior characteristics and playing ability, that make it better than the others. Understanding this, we also understand that it is possible that the best team might not win...This parallels the distinction that biologists make between evolution by natural selection and evolution by natural drift, and the mere fact that we recognize such distinctions is by itself sufficient to show that the tautology objection does not hold in either sports or evolutionary theory.' (Pennock, 1999, 101) (in "Tower of Babel" - JRF]

Pennock is pointing out what Mills and Beatty explicitly state: that fitness is better described in terms of an organism's propensity to leave offspring, than in terms of the actual number of offspring that organism leaves. Quantitatively, fitness (relative to an environment) should be understood as the expected number of descendants to be left: "the weighted sum of [possible numbers of descendants], where the appropriate weights are the probabilities of [leaving that number of descendants]"(Mills, Beatty, 1979, 11). So fitness is best understood as a propensity to leave offspring, which does not even entail that an organism will in fact leave offspring at all, and hence is not tautologous.

To put it another way, alleles that increase in frequency in a population do not necessarily do so because they confer greater fitness upon their hosts - some alleles increase in frequency because of genetic drift and bottleneck effects. Organisms that reproduce more than their peers due to sheer luck and happenstance are not automatically fitter, even though they are the survivors.

>>(2) The Darwinists say that evolution is brought about by changes ("mutations") >>that are totally random. But all they can say to support the claim that the >>mutations are random is that no one can discern any pattern, or any process >>guiding the direction of change. Just because it looks random to us at present >>doesn't mean that it actually is random. >>(3) As the man said in the opinion piece, much of evolutionism isn't science, >>it is unverifiable speculation, with emphasis on the word unverifiable. True >>scientists and true atheists shouldn't believe in theories about evolution.

Pennock Notes Edit


Ephilospher Edit

Mobyseven As you point out, igneous rock, which doesn't contain fossils, can be directly dated, while fossil bearing sedimentary rock cannot (though there are a number of sediment dating techniques in the works). The geologic column created by Lyell in 1830 was later interpreted according to evo theory. It was setup using index fossils to correlate strata from different geographies. In the early 1900s radiometric dating allowed for direct testing of the amount of certain elements within a rock that, given certain assumptions, provided a rough estimate of its age. However, labs filter dates from radiometric samples according to the geologic column. They know in advance the "evolutionary age" of the strata from which the samples were taken and reject dates that do not conform to the column. Thus we have a system internally coherent that rests on a number of assumptions. Those assumptions include: Evolutionary Assumptions for Dating Sediment 1) The same species in different locations lived only contemporaneously 2) Organisms and their evolutionary descendants did not live contemporaneously

Geologic Assumptions for Dating Igneous Rock 3) There were no local catastrophes 4) We know the original quantity of the parent element 5) We know the original quantity of daughter element 6) Igneous rock is part of a closed system and is not contaminated

Becoming aware of our assumptions is a step toward knowledge. Rock dating exemplifies blurring the distinction between facts and interpretation. The amount of an element in a sample is a fact, while the sample’s age is an interpretation given a set of assumptions. The evolutionary interpretation of geology is consistent with the evolutionary paradigm, but there exists another geologic interpretation consistent within its paradigm.

edited by: stevedoetsch, May 24, 2006 - 04:39 PM

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