My Utopia

This is a final draft of the opening section to the first chapter of the book I am working on. Criticism will be gladly accepted, as will any advice.

My Utopia

I would like to share with you a vision that I have for our future. This future requires no political revolution to happen, nor is any great social movement required. Its realization should be gradual in nature, causing no great disturbance or war. I believe that this future, or something like it, will come about through the creation of a particular medical intervention which the rest of this book will be dedicated to. The world of my vision is one where a child is born and both parents are able to raise it full time without needing government support, handouts, or financial assistance from family and friends. The parents are not part of the wealthy elite; their financial status is in fact quite average for people at their position in life. They choose to raise their child full time in order to provide him with all that they can, without having to worry about work commitments, lack of time, and fatigue from other responsibilities. They chose to have this child, and they have chosen to dedicate a few short years to doing the best job they can for it.

The early years of this child’s life, let’s call him John, is much like they have always been: feeding, changing, bathing, playing, (crying, tantrums, strange smells,) and bedtime stories. As the first few years pass, the parents will start taking the John out to play groups so that he can interact with other children. They will take him to parks so that he can play outdoors, and they will expose him to the world around them.

During this time and for the years that follow the parents will also start educating John. They will teach him how to read, write and do arithmetic as well as teaching him right and wrong, cultural values, and all of the general life lessons that are passed on from one generation to the next. The parents will play the primary influence in their young child’s life, but they will also expose him to the influence of trusted family, friends and respected members of their community. They will ensure that their child is not raised with a narrow perspective of the world, and they will do their best to broaden the information sources it has access to. To this end Johns parents, their extended family and friends will each take John to museums, science fairs, art galleries, dramatic plays, operas, car races, extreme sports demonstrations, various expos and anything else which could introduce his mind to the possibilities of the world around him.

School as we know it no longer exists. The parents do everything they can to provide John with the best start on education possible. They teach from their own knowledge and understanding as well as regularly involving friends and family in the process to help fill in the gaps. They also have ready access to a large number of tutors with experience should they feel the need. In addition to those resources, the internet has a wealth of knowledge, curriculum style courses, methodologies, educational strategies, ideas about what parents should teach their children and other support material of that nature, all designed to make the average parent a proficient teacher. The crucial function of the parent during this time will be to enable their child to learn, discover, and understand things for themselves. Instead of force feeding facts and providing answers, the emphasis will be on how to learn. The parent will learn from readily available materials that they don’t need to force their child to learn, it is natural for children to be inquisitive. The task is to turn that inquisitive behavior into a method of teaching the child how to learn about and understand its world. Thus answer questions with simple and obvious answers is discouraged, while a proactive “How would we find the answer to that?” approach is encouraged. This not only empowers the child to achieve more than those who preceded him, but also overcomes any ignorance held by the parents themselves.

As part of this process it is inevitable that John will find a topic of particular interest and thirst for more knowledge of that topic. Having exhausted basic investigation methods of the topic (internet search and libraries for instance) and with a child wanting to know more the parents will then simply search for a local teacher with specific knowledge of that topic and then enroll John to attend a course on the subject. There is no need to force him into this course because he chose the topic himself and is genuinely interested in learning more about it. This could be repeated numerous times and probably will be.

There is no structure to this system of education and that is precisely the point. It is a free spirit approach to education where the individual child decides what it would like to know next, and then engages with that topic while it otherwise carries on being a child. There are no rules (other than the normal rules imposed on a child by their parents), there are no timetables, and there are no age based restrictions on what they can and cannot learn. They can learn as fast or slow as they want or need to. Most importantly, there is no deadline for when this education ends. It could produce children with a thorough understanding of Molecular Biology by the age of 12, or the child could continue learning a little bit of everything well into their twenties. This system caters to individual capabilities, needs and desires.

As John enters his late teenage years he has a solid basis of knowledge from a diverse range of topics explored throughout his developmental years. As with many kids he gained a fascination with dinosaurs at a young age and that fascination has stuck with them into his teens so he has decided that he is interested in becoming a paleontologist. He registers at a university and has to take some short entrance courses which ensures that he has adequate background knowledge to undertake the rest of the Paleontology course. Failing any of these entrance subjects would preclude entry into the course, but only on that intake. Someone dedicated to a subject could easily go away and do some more private study, take more community college courses and private tuition and then reapply in the next intake very easily, so there is no real exclusion in this system. After a few years of studying paleontology though, John starts to find that he simply doesn’t enjoy the process nearly as much as he imagined he would. As the course progresses he actually finds it more boring and even starts to lose interest in the whole idea. He completes the course anyway, but decides to not pursue the career further. He goes back to living his life as before; exploring the ideas around him and the options available to him, until one day his parents decide that they want to start sailing around the world and so start urging him to find something which means they won’t have to support him anymore.

At the age of 26 he decides to become a police officer. The progress of his career is much like it is today; he goes through the academy, receives training, advances through the ranks always acquiring more experience and regularly undertaking additional training courses. The years seem to pass quickly and after 34 years on the force he has started to reach the end of his patience for the legal system. He is tired of always watching hardened criminals get off with lenient sentences while some of the more innocuous crimes are punished with strict malevolence. The system just doesn’t seem fair and he is sick of it. He makes a big decision and at the age of 60 firmly decides that he is going to start a new career as a judge.

He starts taking some educational courses on the law in his spare time while working and after a year or two actually quits his job and enters full time study of law. Within 4 years he is a lawyer working his way up through the ranks, creating networks of colleagues, learning more about the legal system than he ever understood as a police officer, and generally enjoying this exploration of how to prosecute criminals to the full extent of the law. After 30 years of experience in the legal system, increasing his influence the whole time as well as his understanding, his application to become a judge is finally accepted.

At the age of 95, John, the child from the beginning of this story, finally enters the stage of his second career that he was aiming for all those years before. His illustrious career will end up lasting over 50 years before he willingly retires from it on account of something which happened only 3 years after he became a judge, he met his first wife. He had had 3 long term relationships prior to this point, the longest one lasting 30 years, but for the first time in his 98 years he met a woman which he knew he could spend the rest of his life with, however long that will be. They don’t rush anything though, nothing is really rushed when you are 100 years old with no definite lifespan, and they aren’t married for another 20 years. It isn’t until he is 148 that they both decide to retire from their present careers and have a child. They both have savings accounts which will provide more than enough income for them to both live very comfortably while providing full time care for their child and even still re-invest most of their interest back into savings. They are in fact eternally funded by their own savings.

At 149 years of age John has his first daughter. She is raised by both parents full time with all concerns taken care of. Both parents have extensive life experience and education and they both pass their wealth of knowledge on to their daughter the best they can; not by giving her all of the answers necessarily, but by enabling her to find the answers for herself, and enabling her to pursue the knowledge that she wants to pursue.

After 25 years of raising his daughter, John starts to consider giving paleontology another go. With no need of money, and with a great deal more patience and respect for silence the idea of quietly sitting and working on a dig site seems a lot more appealing to him now than it did all those years ago. Whatever he does though, he chooses to do so freely, without concern for time or money. He is respected in society from his history as a fair judge, and he is as physically capable of being as police officer as he was when he was 26. His years of experience make him one of the most valuable assets in society, and he charges nothing for his time or his advice. He regularly helps out new parents with the education of their children, providing the older kids with lessons on morality and the law, or just helping the younger kids with their reading and writing.

Just as John’s parents were not particularly wealthy or particularly special for dedicating themselves to his fulltime care; his freely offered assistance to those around him is not special or abnormal. In a society full of people who have no limitation on their time and already have two lifetimes worth of savings to support their own needs, there are a lot of people who gain a lot of pleasure out of being able to help other who need it.

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What If We Had More Time?

I have decided to write a book. I think this decision has been a long time in the coming, and it actually feels like it pulls everything together. My molecular biology, my philosophy and my History and Philosophy of Science. Two fields of study which develop my ability to rationally explore objects and communicate complicated ideas, and one area to understand the cutting edge science. So I think I am capable of doing it. The task will be to actually write something the public will want to read, because that is the real objective here: reaching the people.

Thanks to a stroke of genius by Joseph at ImmInst, I think I am going to call the book “What if we had more time?” and the current plan is to launch it alongside the flyer posting idea I wanted to run for ImmInst back in June which never happened. This time there will be a reason for it, and we will have a landing page. I have registered the WIWHMT domain and Joseph is working on flyer and graphic designs to express the sentiments of that question. The website will be a simple step by step guide into the world of the immortalist movement, also inviting them to read my book, and then to participate at ImmInst and become involved with the community.

The goal is to get the attention of the global community and get them more involved, and of course have that happen in a positive light.

I will continue to post in here occasionally, as I write things which may be interesting as stand alone essays or stories from the book as I progress.

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Kurzweil – Law of Accelerating returns and Evolution

Thanks to Stumble Upon, I finally found my way into reading one of Ray Kurzweils essays a couple of weeks ago, and I can honestly say it is by far the most compelling essay I have ever read in my entire life. I have never been so compelled to just keep reading ever before. So, needless to say, I highly highly highly recommend reading this paper:
The Law of Accelerating Returns by Ray Kurzweil
There are so many interesting insights in it, and far more incredibly interesting exponential graphs (better than that, the exponential logarithmic graphs) all demosntrating the accelerating rate of improvements that we are undergoing.

One of the points made in this essay, which isn’t in anyway particularly new, but which struck me at the time as a lesson worth repeating, is the idea of how technological advance is constantly building on its predecessor technology. That is, no new peice of technology ever comes out of a vacuum, it is usually made possible because of other pieces of technology which were created before it. Penicillin probably wouldn’t have ever been invented if it wasn’t for microscopes. Microscopes probably would never have been invented if it wasn’t for teh technology to smelt metal ores and create fine glass. Smelting and glass making wouldn’t be possible without the invention of fire… etc. Each step up doesn’t just happen, it builds ON TOP OF all of the technologies which preceeeded it.

I think that this is quite self evident.

The paper makes another connection as part of its flow (it doesn’t make a big deal out of this, it is just assumed to be a natural progression), and that is of the progress from biological evolution, through single celled organisms, to multicellular organisms, to tool using organisms, to intelligent conscious organisms, to extensive tool innovation and upwards throughout the numerous technological innovations that we have seen leading to today.

Whether you agree with biological evolution being another phase of the same progress which we now see in technological innovation or not is irrelevent to what i want to say: i think the ‘building on top of’ idea of technology, the concept which seems incredibly self apparent to most of us, is indeed identical to the same sort of thing we see in evolution.

Let me explain…

When a cell 2 billion years ago, one in trillion trillion trillion cells perhaps…just one is all that is needed, when that one cell randomly finds itself mutated so as to produce a particular protein which say, provides a better digestive method of nutrition, then that protein is done. It is MADE. Unless killed by accident, that protein will last forever and serve as the scaffolding upon which every single following biological innovation after it will be built upon.

We can see the results of this early period of development in life all around us. There are some genes which are ubiquitous – that is they are in every life form on earth. Heat shock proteins, Polymerase, histones(?)…I don’t know all of the proteins/genes which are completely ubiquitous in biology, but there is no doubt a huge collection of genes which are present in every single life form on earth in one form or another, and they all show a common descendency in their code (as opposed to convergent evolution where the same thing (EG the eye) has independently evovled many times over with no common descendency).

I’m having a great deal of trouble explaining this easily. It all works so clearly in my head but I think I need to dedicate a number of days studying some topics in order to find good practical examples of what I am saying so that i can tell the ‘story’ of this idea.

So i’ll just leave it with these closing comments: Just as technology has reached the sophistication that we now have because every step of the way builds upon foundations which have been developed for several thousand years, so too does evolution acheive the incredible sophistication that we see in biology simply because it has built upon foundations which were developed several billion years ago.

polymerase is like fire. Without that gene/protein forming, life would never have got anywhere.
The first heat shock protein is like developing an understanding of engineering. Without it cells wouldn’t have had half as good a chance at surviving in diverse environments, jsut as humans wouldn’t have been nearly so good at expanding into cold/hot climates through building climate controlled dwellings…

Each step of the way makes ‘life’ easier, and as life gets easier, more innovation is made possible.

And eventually you end up with monstrously complex entities like humans and the internet.


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Challenge to YE Creationists : Recreating the Ark

I want to see someone organise a demonstration, in real life, of the possibility of Noahs Ark actually happening. This is no easy feat to organise, but the organisation required is nothing compare to the fact that the realisation of it would simply be impossible, and I think that that is the main reason it hasn’t been done. (infact, what does the discovery institute do with all of its money and people anyway? They should be doing these sorts of experiments to prove their theories correct!)

But seriously, we have had people try to recreate the Pyramids (or at least miniaturised versions of them), and they did that with like 50 people or something instead of the hypothesised hundreds of thousands of people used to create the real ones. So I think it shouldn’t be hard to demonstrate that if 1 man can build a boat, and then get all of the ‘kinds’ of animals on earth onto that boat, and then keep them alive for a year afloat on the ocean…then surely a squad of 50 or 100 fundamentalist christians can acheive the same feat in a few years?

All they need is a Zoo with a strong christian association (they have a Dino park, and fundamentalists are in over-abundance in the USA, surely there is a Zoo with STRONG christian associations somewhere in the USA). In fact, it would probably be necessary that the Zoo take care of most of the stuff to do with the last stages of this project. (highlighting yet another problem for the Flood story, how one family could possibly take care of all the animals which a zoo requires hundreds of caretakes to do) But the Zoo takes on this challenge. A team of 50 people or more are assembled to build this boat. hell, they can even all be professional boat builders. They can use modern technology if they want, but then, for their own sake, they should probably do with technology available at the time of Noah. but whatever. Use all tools available, but the boat MUST be wooden.

Now, they should be allowed as much time as they need to build the boat. Once it is built though, 8 must be selected to then load the boat, organise the animals and ensure all of the animals are safe and secure and fit into this boat they have made, and they have to do it all in 1 week. THEN, they have to keep those animals in that boat, alive, unharmed, for 1 year. 8 People, all of the ‘kinds’ of animals just found in one Zoo (guaranteed to not be close to all of the kinds found on Earth) , 1 boat, and 1 year.

And of course, no supplies to be loaded on or off. They have to all be loaded ahead of time. Maybe Water can be allowed to be taken on, on the premise that it rained a lot, and we should assume they captured that rain in tanks…

I guarantee it can’t be done, and I guarantee the Zoo will pull the plug before the first week of loading is completed as they start watching the animals get sick and injured.

And yet fundamentalists continue to believe that 1 man built this boat 4,000 years ago by himself, herded all of these animals onto this boat by himself, and then cared for them all, with the help of his family for 1 year without resupplies.


Maybe the Discovery Institute isn’t the best organisation to make this happen. They support Intelligent Design, not Young Earth Creationism (YEC). So we need a large, well funded organisation which believes in YEC, and we need to request that this experiment be done! Any suggestions on who might be able to do it?

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Creationism and Flood Mythology

I have been participating in a discussion on DP Forums lately about whether the biblical flood really happened or not. Of course I think the whole idea is complete rubbish and that there is no possible way that the entire earth has been covered in water for any period (let alone a whole year) anytime in the last several milli…EVER.

But of course I am having trouble making the creationists see this, so I need to figure out a stronger argument which can’t be questioned. From the discussion so far I have figure out that they (the particular creationists I am responding to, every creationist has a different version) question virtually every scientific method of extrapolation. Basically their stance is that Pre flood was essentially an entirely different world. Then the flood destroyed everything, there was rapid changes since then, and then things settled down into something more similar to what we see today. Thus all of our methods of extrapolation into the past is flawed because we don’t take into account the drastic changes that occured during and shortly after the flood which are different to modern times.

Thus when we talk about Ice Core samples which we believe go back 150,000 years, their explanation is that they were formed shortly after the flood, and then settled into a steady pattern in recent times. I was surprised to find that the oldest living tree only went back about 4,000 years, so that couldn’t disprove the flood, and in anycase the fact that our tree ring history still reaches back 10,000 years, I guess the creationist reply to that is that it is still prone to the same extrapolation flaws as the ice rings. That the way things were back then was very different, and so it doesn’t actually work.

Similarly I have been told that geologists are wrong about the time for geological formations to occur (like stalagmites etc). And rapid geotechnic changes happened shortly after the flood, thus the few species which went on the ark started migrating out from Mt ararat and they started to diversify rapidly and get isolated on islands etc in the couple of thousand years following the flood, rapidly speciating etc into all of the modern species we see today, before settling down into the pattern we now expect. Thus objections about the number of species required to fit onto the ark are shrugged off because the animals back then were different.

So, if we ignore all of our evidence from molecular biology, geology, ice core sampling and everything else which science tells us about how the world works, how do we still conclusively show that the flood didn’t happen?

So looking through the list here: I’m going to see what arguments really stand out.

The first one raises a valid point, but clearly creationists just assume it would be possible. I have browsed through most of the other arguments and can see how the average creationist can shrug them off as assumptions of science (as usual, the creationist assumes they know how scientists collect this stuff without any knowledge of the field), but getting down to this section:

i think this raises a few very valid points which can’t be easily ignored.

How was the fossil record sorted in an order convenient for evolution? Ecological zonation, hydrodynamic sorting, and differential escape fail to explain:

  • why some groups of organisms, such as mollusks, are found in many geologic strata.
  • why organisms (such as brachiopods) which are very similar hydrodynamically (all nearly the same size, shape, and weight) are still perfectly sorted.
  • why extinct animals which lived in the same niches as present animals didn’t survive as well. Why did no pterodons make it to high ground?
  • why small organisms dominate the lower strata, whereas fluid mechanics says they would sink slower and thus end up in upper strata.
  • why no human artifacts are found except in the very uppermost strata. If, at the time of the Flood, the earth was overpopulated by people with technology for shipbuilding, why were none of their tools or buildings mixed with trilobite or dinosaur fossils?
  • why ecological information is consistent within but not between layers. Fossil pollen is one of the more important indicators of different levels of strata. Each plant has different and distinct pollen, and, by telling which plants produced the fossil pollen, it is easy to see what the climate was like in different strata. Was the pollen hydraulically sorted by the flood water so that the climatic evidence is different for each layer?

How do surface features appear far from the surface? Deep in the geologic column there are formations which could have originated only on the surface, such as:

How could these have appeared in the midst of a catastrophic flood?

How could a flood have deposited chalk? Chalk is largely made up of the bodies of plankton 700 to 1000 angstroms in diameter [Bignot, 1985]. Objects this small settle at a rate of .0000154 mm/sec. [Twenhofel, 1961] In a year of the Flood, they could have settled about half a meter.

Also worthy of a special mention is:
How did all the modern plant species survive?

  • Many plants (seeds and all) would be killed by being submerged for a few months. This is especially true if they were soaked in salt water. Some mangroves, coconuts, and other coastal species have seed which could be expected to survive the Flood itself, but what of the rest?
  • Most seeds would have been buried under many feet (even miles) of sediment. This is deep enough to prevent spouting.
  • Most plants require established soils to grow–soils which would have been stripped by the Flood.
  • Some plants germinate only after being exposed to fire or after being ingested by animals; these conditions would be rare (to put it mildly) after the Flood.
  • Noah could not have gathered seeds for all plants because not all plants produce seeds, and a variety of plant seeds can’t survive a year before germinating. [Garwood, 1989; Benzing, 1990; Densmore & Zasada, 1983] Also, how did he distribute them all over the world?

Why is there no mention of the Flood in the records of Egyptian or Mesopotamian civilizations which existed at the time? Biblical dates (I Kings 6:1, Gal 3:17, various generation lengths given in Genesis) place the Flood 1300 years before Solomon began the first temple. We can construct reliable chronologies for near Eastern history, particularly for Egypt, from many kinds of records from the literate cultures in the near East. These records are independent of, but supported by, dating methods such as dendrochronology and carbon-14. The building of the first temple can be dated to 950 B.C. +/- some small delta, placing the Flood around 2250 B.C. Unfortunately, the Egyptians (among others) have written records dating well back before 2250 B.C. (the Great Pyramid, for example dates to the 26th century B.C., 300 years before the Biblical date for the Flood). No sign in Egyptian inscriptions of this global flood around 2250 B.C.

How did the human population rebound so fast? Genealogies in Genesis put the Tower of Babel about 110 to 150 years after the Flood [Gen 10:25, 11:10-19]. How did the world population regrow so fast to make its construction (and the city around it) possible? Similarly, there would have been very few people around to build Stonehenge and the Pyramids, rebuild the Sumerian and Indus Valley civilizations, populate the Americas, etc.

Why do other flood myths vary so greatly from the Genesis account? Flood myths are fairly common worldwide, and if they came from a common source, we should expect similarities in most of them. Instead, the myths show great diversity. [Bailey, 1989, pp. 5-10; Isaak, 1997] For example, people survive on high land or trees in the myths about as often as on boats or rafts, and no other flood myth includes a covenant not to destroy all life again.

How can a literal interpretation be appropriate if the text is self-contradictory? Genesis 6:20 and 7:14-15 say there were two of each kind of fowl and clean beasts, yet Genesis 7:2-3,5 says they came in sevens.

How can a literal interpretation be consistent with reality? How could Noah have gathered male and female of each kind [Gen. 7:15-16] when some species are asexual, others are parthenogenic and have only females, and others (such as earthworms) are hermaphrodites? And what about social animals like ants and termites which need the whole nest to survive?

And these are just the arguments which are left over if we choose to ignore reality.

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Sports Arbitrage Guide and SurebetBookies update

SureBetBookies database is live now and has been for a number of weeks. I have been adding new bookmakers into the DB irregularly, and need to up my rate quite a bit to keep things moving. Even more importantly though, i really need to finish a number of other pages on the site, just to give it the completely rounded our feeling. For example, I need to finish editing the Moneybookers and Neteller pages, which I am actually creating moreso for the SEO towards those phrases, which will then bring in more general traffic to SBB, which is always a good thing.

I have also added a few new domains into the mix, and intend to add a single page of content to each of and and optimise those two domains specifically towards those keyword phrases. The domain will be a thorough explanation of how to work SureBetBookies, and will simply act as a portal to SBB. It is a bit of an experiment, but if it works, those phrases should pull in substantial amounts of traffic from Search Engines alone.

Over in Sports Arbitrage Guide I have fully integrated the new SureBetBookies database with the Guide, providing links to the bookmakers for every alert service and functions like that. I believe this will increase profit substantially over the long run, as well as providing far greater functionality for our users. Having that sort of information at your fingertips is incredibly helpful.

Continuing on in my efforts with SEO, I have also been re-evaluating my page designs, titles, descriptions etc. I have created a sub-page for the Work At Home phenomenon. At the end of the day, sports arbitrage trading is simply a method to work at home on your computer, but SAG is optimised for sports arbitrage trading, not ‘work at home’, so there is a huge market of people looking for what SAG offers, but not knowing how to find it. I think that is one of the biggest failings of SERP’s. The fact that specific words on the page do not necessarily give away the most relevent purpose of that page.

But anyway, thats my problem. I have also put a Link Exchange on my Links page, but I need to revise much of that, and I probably need to get one of those ‘Are you a human’ turing tests on the page since I am already getting bloody spam bots submitting links which are total rubbish. *hate spam with a fiery passion, and would happily see all spammers dead*

I have also paid someone to submit both Sports Arbitrage Guide and SureBetBookies to around 500 Directories. So we’ll see over the coming months how much that affects the ranking of both of them in the search engines.

I think as soon as I have those pages on SBB done, the two external sites (sportsbook listing and bookie index) completed, I will actually start working on the Arbitrage Trading section of SAG. Which is long overdue. However, as I say that, i just realised that I already need to start working on a couple of new alert programs which have just come out on the scene, which means more reviews, more page editing, and changes to the SBB database already to incorporate them. So still quite a lot of work going on with them. And lately I have completely renigged on my commitments to ImmInst. I need to do more with ImmInst. Plus work is starting on PapersAloud, which I am about to write another post for.


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More Proactive Blogging

OK, it is time to stop avoiding this blog because I have set such a strict design on what i wanted this blog to be. From now on, this is just going to be my blog, to do with it what I want. I still want to write those articles on evolution, moral theory and aging, but I shouldn’t exclude all else until i acheive those goals. So I am going to start blogging on stuff that I am doing. I dunno why, chances are no one will care what I am doing, but I like to record stuff.

For a start, Ryan and I registered 1d4 Pty Limited as a company a few weeks ago. We are now directors of a limited liability company. I think that’s pretty cool. Now we just need to ensure it keeps growing and increasing in profitability.

I have also been engaging an aweful lot in a new forum at An incredible forum really, when I decide to make my own forum, I am sure I will be copying a lot of their good ideas. That aside though, they are a forum about internet marketing and website construction, so very topic relevent to what I am spending all of my spare time doing now, and something which I really do need to learn as well as I could. Invariably though, I have ended up engaging in a religion debate. LOL. I can’t help myself can I?

So far it is only one, but it’s on the topic of the Flood, as usual. And I still fail to understand how anyone aside from a small child can actually believe that rubbish is real… The thread is here, and the ultimate answer to people who just don’t see it, is as usual, at talk origins.

In other news I saw the movie 300 last night, and I recommend it highly. F’n awesome MOVIE. And I highlight the word movie, because it has been getting bad reviews because of the obviously political inuendos made in the movie, and because of the mythical exagerations added to the telling of the story. That’s right, this movie, isn’t accurate to reality! *gasp*

Nonetheless, it has entered into my top movies of all time area, right up the top of action films with some of the best fight scenes and “Pure Pwnage” that you are ever likely to be able to imagine. At the end of the first battle, I just kept thinking of the old arcade game: Mortal Kombat… “Flawless victory”. I know when I think of the idea of 300 vs 1 Million, i certainly assume that it is ridiculously impossible for them to win, but after watching the first few battes, i started to understand the difference between well trained soldiers vs slaves forced to fight. it is sort of like getting a group of homeless people together and telling them to beat the Australian Wallabies Rugby Union Team at a game of Rugby Union. Even if the homeless had 50 people on the field, it wouldn’t change the fact that they are useless, unskilled, slow, probably drunk or whatever, and the skilled players working in unison as a team would just demolish them every time without fail. When it comes to combat like the type in 300, total domination of skill is infact possible. Unlike modern warfare where even the most undisciplined soldiers can get their hands on a bomb or get a lucky shot off on their automatic weaponry.

But anyway, watch 300 while it is still at the cinemas. Well worth it.
300 Trailer
Some of the first battle. Don’t watch if you are going to see this at the cinemas, watch the real thiing first.

And now I have to go and talk to the creationists again over at Digital point. But I will be back soon with a couple more updates about SAG and SBB and PaperAloud….the sleeping giant.


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The lack of post recently has come about because of much action elsewhere. I have hired Klaus Burton (AKA SubJunk) of to redesign my two websites and So I have been busy working with him to plan that out and also to start doing the work that I need to do on my end of the deal. So I have been busy with that. Also, I am in the progress of research adn implementing my next website, which is going to be the coolest website ever. *too excited*

Ahhh I can’t wait till I can start revealing that…

So anyway, I haven’t forgotten this blog or its goal, in fact this blog represents the true end goal of all of these other websites. This Blog is who I am and what I want to do. But do to the nature of reality, we can never just do what we want without consideration of other things.. like eating and warmth for example.

The sooner I can find myself out of full time employment, the sooner I will be able to dedicate myself to something meaningful, like explaining why evolution is a brilliant marvel of scientific enquiry, why morality is easy to derive from first principles, and why it is that things get old and die.

They are the goals and the means by which I hope to come by them…. Ahhh the future to come.


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Update on Challenge to Intelligent Design Believers

Well after a few weeks of this challenge running, the purpose of me starting it: To find worthwhile creationist claims to reply to, has been fulfilled without one succesful attempt. I would like to thank Kazza from forums for finding this for me (and not taking advantage of me in the meantime :)) Actually, I should give him $50 just for finding this for me.

Anyway, this:
lists every single argument so far know presented by creationists, ID’ers and anti-evolutionists in every form known, and presents the reply argument and case.

unbelievable. talk origins is truely remarkable and a wealth of knowledge for anyone with any questions about evolution. I am sure I will be refering people to that list and specific arguments from it time and time again as they continue to present the same old worn out claims over and over again.

Everyone curious about evolution: GO HERE

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Are Humans Still Evolving?

Evolution may be defined with or with out the requirements of selective pressure, but in terms of discussing the possibility of current human evolution it is only sensible to accept a definition that is selection inclusive. Accepting this, fact based arguments which suggest the absence of current human evolution may seems valid, but can be easily refuted on the basis of 4 common misperceptions of evolution that lie as hidden assumptions behind such claims. These four classes of error will be outlined below and the relevance to the types of arguments raised that claim humans are no longer evolving will be made apparent.

Originally, evolution meant ‘unfolding’ [1] and was most often used to refer to the process of development – the unfolding of a series of specific events leading to a final product. For instance, an acorn would evolve into an oak tree, a fetus into a baby. As the world view gradually changed during the enlightenment period of the 18th century – from that of a stationary world created by God into a world which gradually shaped by geological change over a considerable period of time – it was natural that this term should be applied to the ‘evolution’ of the world. The association to biology quickly followed as the idea that species may not be immutable gained favour and several possible theories emerged, including Lamarck’s and eventually Darwin’s. Since this time Evolution came to be particularly strongly associated with biology and the ‘unfolding’ of species over time. Although Ernst Haeckel’s famous claim that ‘Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny’ may no longer be accepted, the word once used to describe ontogeny was quickly adapted so that phylogeny could be described in exactly the same way: Evolution. From our modern standpoint though evolution is much more explicit than just the unfolding of species – it has come into a much more meaningful and exact description, commonly defined as ‘the change in the gene pool of a population over time.’ [2]

Using this definition, the possibility of questioning whether humans are still evolving is not even worth asking. The simple fact is that change in the gene pool over time in any species is completely unavoidable. Eyre-Walker and Keightley claimed in 1999 that humans have had on average 4.2 amino acid altering mutations every generation since humans separated from chimpanzees [3]. This measurement ignores the synonymous substitution of base pairs, and all of the mutations which occur in the non-translated regions of Genome DNA. Since only about 1.5% of the human genome is translated [4], this number is quite incredible. With this introduction of change every generation, the ‘change in the gene pool over time’ is assured. Genetic drift is another mechanism through which gene frequencies are changed overtime, and its occurrence is an undeniable phenomenon. Chance events lead to the increase or decrease of numbers of a particular gene in a population, occasionally leading to fixation of a gene (no other variants exist) or extinction of that gene.

These two prime examples of random changes in the genetic makeup of populations are accepted biological phenomena which apply to humans as much as any other species. To say that these two phenomena are classified as evolution means to say that Humans evolve. Of this there can simply be no question.

It is therefore clear that another more specific definition of evolution must be used in order for any sort of productive inquiry into this subject to take place. To account for the affect of random changes alone being considered evolutionary a definition that requires a selective pressure can be used. By defining evolution as ‘the change in a gene pool over time due to a selective pressure’ we no longer have the random changes problem, and the people claiming that humans are no longer evolving actually have something that they can use: The possible lack of selective pressures. From now on this will be the meaning of evolution for the rest of this paper.

Evolution may be directed by a number of selective pressures, one being sexual selection, and most of the others falling under the general title of natural selection. Natural selection affects the evolution of species in every aspect of their life, from their developmental rate, to their ability to survive to reproductive maturity, their ability to find and copulate with a mate, the viability of those offspring, and how much longer after sexual maturity/copulation that organism may continue living. Natural Selection is the true driving force behind any sort of adaptive evolution.

With selection included we can now describe evolution according to a theory described by Dennett in 1995 based on the earlier work of Lewontin and Brandon [5]. In this definition evolution is said to occur whenever there is variation, heredity and a differential ‘fitness’ (i.e.: allowing a point of action for a selection pressure). In the case of all biological creatures heredity is an absolute standard which goes without saying. The fact that there is replication of the genetic makeup from one organism into the next generation is the backbone of the process of evolution. It is upon this backbone of heredity that variation may build up, brought about by mutations, and that differential fitnesses may arise and in turn be selected. So the question now becomes, “Do humans have variety in their gene pool, and is there a differential fitness to these variants?”

Those who believe that humans are no longer evolving accept that we have variety. As pointed out above with the previous definition of evolution, we have 4.2 Amino Acid altering mutations every generation, and then we have genetic drift; it is entirely unreasonable to claim that we do not have variety between humans. What they do doubt though, is that there is any selective pressure left. They claim that due to the advent of modern medicine, technology, farming techniques, food distribution, heating and cooling systems etc, there are no longer any selective pressures in our lives to separate the fit from the unfit. The fitness differential is irrelevant in the environment that we have made for ourselves because we do everything we can to make sure ‘everyone’ survives. Additionally, even if some people die to unforseen virus or bacterial outbreaks etc, then although they may die, the reaction of medical intervention will be infinitely quicker than that of the evolutionary adaptation to the new selective pressure, and so no net evolution will actually occur. The capabilities within our modern society and the speed with which our culture adapts to change has completely overruled the process of natural selection and so stopped evolution.

There are several problems with these claims. These problems can be placed into several classes of error including;

1. Misunderstanding the nature and power of Natural Selection,
2. Forgetting other forms of selection, such as sexual selection,
3. Assumptions about the entire world from the specific first world lifestyles of the very people claiming this, and
4. Mistakenly taking the term ‘current evolution’ to mean that evolution must happen before our eyes.

Class 1

The first class of error may actually be the most subtle. It comes from the assumption that selection only works on the more obvious phenotypic traits and little else. In its worst form this error is manifest in the claims that humans are de-evolving (an oxymoron in itself) because we are creating easier lives for ourselves, resulting in future generations who have evolved weak skeletons, fat bodies and slow reactions etc. While an easier life may allow for these phenotypic changes to exist, to say that we would evolve in that direction is to either revert to the previous definition of evolution, or misunderstand how evolution due to natural selection works. Evolution due to natural selection occurs only in such a way that better adapted creatures become more prevalent than less adapted creatures. If bodies with weaker skeletons (for example birds), more fat (for example seals), and slower reactions (for example sloths) were advantageous to humans, then that is how we would evolve. If that happened to be the case, then the irony would then be that these phenotypes would be advantageous (direct inference from how evolution works), and the claims of ‘de-evolutionists’ would be shown for exactly what they are, oxymoronic.

The more subtle side of this can be made clear though, in realising that this altering of what is and what is not advantageous from era to era is entirely unpredictable to us. We perceive certain things as ‘good’ attributes (commonly: Sharp teeth, strong muscles, fast runner, intelligence) and other things as ‘bad’ attributes (commonly: obesity, skin prone to sunburn, unco-ordination) and we decide that anything which departs from the good and/or acquires more bad attributes is losing its selective advantage. While this may often be true, the fact of the matter is that our own judgement has been crafted by evolution and we are biased in our judgements towards the things which were adaptive in the past. We have no idea what is going to happen next and so we can’t be sure that our crafted judgements are any longer valid. As well as that we have no way of knowing what hidden benefits may lay under some superficial phenotype. Combine these two consideration and you are faced with a situation in which you may have superficially ‘bad’ (according to our current judgement) phenotypes with underlying attributes which may in the next few hundred generations come to be so advantageous that they create a selective pressure in themselves. Darwin himself observed that “the struggle will generally be more severe between species of the same genus, when they come into competition with each other, than between species of distinct genera,” [6] and so it is with humans already, and probably will continue to become more and more as we reach the limits of our extended niche. What variation it is that holds the key to the adaptive advantage is surely unknown to us, but it seems incredibly unlikely that the advantage will be with those able to outrun or successfully hunt a lion.

On a less subtle level though there is one more element within this class of error that is ignored by people who claim that humans are no longer evolving. Natural Selection is thorough. Amongst all of the variation which we can and cannot discriminate superficially, Natural Selection screens everything. Natural Selection, unlike our ability to pass judgement, is an unrelenting eternal force sifting through every single probabilistic relation within an organism, between members of a community, between organisms in a species, and between an organism and its environment; all at once. To say that modern humans are no longer under a selective pressure is to claim two things: It is claiming that we know what Natural Selection works on; and it claims that we have used this knowledge to control every single instance of potential selective pressure. We certainly do not know this, and we most certainly have not controlled it. Humans are just as subject to selective pressures as every other organism, even if we can’t see them.

Class 2

The second category of error is simply a case of forgetting that there is more to selective pressures than mere survival. The need to procreate is just as important in evolution, and to procreate humans need to find mates. Sexual selection is present throughout nature and is undoubtedly present in Homo sapiens too. One theory even claims that our enlarged brains, our paedomorphic ape appearance, the size difference between males and females, and various other factors are all consequences of sexual selection [7]. Medicines, technology and abundant shelter will never affect the role sexual selection plays in the evolution process, but culture itself may. It is almost impossible to guarantee that our sexual desires, choices and behaviours are guided by our own and our potential mate’s genetic make up, rather than being guided by the culture we live in. To make it a little more complicated, its not even easy to figure out whether our culture is largely guided by our genetic make up, and therefore only an intermediate between our genes telling us what we want and what we actually choose. Whatever the case one fact remains: Sexual selection – on whatever level – occurs. As long as it continues to occur there will be a selective pressure present, and evolution will occur.

Class 3

The third category of error is the belief that the entire world is like the society we are lucky enough to live in. A society where medicine is provided for everyone, where housing is plentiful, where there is available electricity, running water etc. The fact of the matter is that this isn’t the case at all, but instead around 80% of the world’s population lives in developing countries [6]. If we are to talk about the evolution of Humans and we want to focus on one lifestyle, it would in fact make much more sense to focus on developing countries and talk about their way of life. Of course though, if we were to do this, then most of the points raised about medicines, technology, distribution of food, and general ease/comfort of life would no longer apply, and there would be no case. Obviously when the claim ‘Humans are no longer evolving’ is made, the claim is actually meant to be ‘Humans in developed countries are no longer evolving.’

Class 4

The fourth class of error actually intermingles with every other class on some level. Evolution takes many thousands of years to occur and must be discussed accordingly. To talk only about the way things are now and then to try to infer facts about evolution from that flash of existence, is to fall into this error.

This particular error is all encompassing in its nature and is the sort of error that humans are very prone to make. Being organisms that deal with time in units like seconds, minutes, hours, years, and even up to decades, the concept of hundreds of years or several hundred years turns into ‘A long time’ and nothing else. To think of a hundred years, is to think of something only just graspable. To think of a thousand years though, is really something beyond our grasp and we tend to resort to ‘a really long time’ and that is as far as our imagination goes. We may be able to grasp some sort of awe over the length of it, but we do not comprehend it. Tens of thousands of years, millions of years, billions of years all meld into this one conception of ‘a really long time’ and nothing else. There is little meaning in any of it. To then speak of evolution, something which takes thousands of years for any real changes to start being apparent, is to talk of something which we can’t grasp the timeframe of. Falling into this class of error when talking about Evolution is almost inevitable for anyone not consciously aware of this problem.

Understanding now that evolution only works over the course of many thousands of years means that the claim that ‘humans are no longer evolving’ translates into ‘humans will not evolve at all over the next few thousand years’. Realising this, to maintain the claim that humans are no longer evolving is to claim that our control over our environment is so all encompassing and so certain that nothing that happens will break our control. It is a claim that we will never run out of food, that our population growth will never reach maximum capacity, that rising waters will never cause massive loss of farmland or living space, and that no virus or bacterial pathogens will ever break out into a pandemic. It is to claim that humankind has already completely conquered nature in all of its forms.

Whether we accept evolution as something that occurs with or without a selective pressure, the arguments presented to show that humans are no longer evolving tend to become meaningless in light of how evolution actually works. The points may seem valid in some regard, but they all miss a vital point somewhere and so can be easily shown as the empty claim they are. Humans are varied, humans are being selected, and a time will come not so far off in the future when massive selection may be applied as a consequence of our own actions. Humans are still evolving.


1. Webster’s 1828 dictionary,
2. Chris Colby. Introduction to Evolutionary Biology, Version 2. 1996.
3. A. Eyre-Walker, P.D. Keightley. 1999. High genomic deleterious mutation rates in hominids. Nature 397:344-347
4. B Alberts, A Johnson, J Lewis, M Raff, K Roberts, P Walter. 2002. Molecular Biology of the Cell 4th Edition, Chapter 4, p 202, table 4-1.
5. D Dennett. 1995. Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: evolution and the meaning of life. New York. p 343
6. C Darwin. 1859. The Origin of Species, first edition, reprinted in penguin classics 1985, chapter 3:p127.
7. D Brin. 1996. Neoteny and Two-Way Sexual Selection in Human Evolution. Journal of Social and Evolutionary Systems 18(3):257-276

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