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Yes, there is even a stronger motive for computer programmers than for just plain old mathematicians. Real money is involved in shortening those programs.

Regarding Taoism and economics, there has long been a dialectic in Chinese culture and philosophy between Taoism and Confucianism. The former is "the scholar out of power," opposing state power over the economy and society, practiciy we wei and so on; while the latter is "the scholar in power," supporting hierarchy and imperial state power over the economy and society in a supposedly harmonius balance.

Raymond Smullyan used to pull dimes out of my ears when I was a kid, no kidding.

My old man, a friend of Smullyan's (hence his access to my youthful ears), used to argue that a major motivation for mathematicians was "laziness," a desire to figure out ways to solve problems with less effort.

David Kelley,

Maybe you were the first to use the terms "open and closed systems" within Objectivist discourse and publications, but to claim that you "coined" them is utter nonsense. They have been in widespread usage within systems theory and related fields for well over a half century in works by such people as von Bertalanffy and Vernadsky, some of this actually going back as far as the 1920s, if not earlier. Please...

J Thomas,

I have already given a definition, which is close to what you will find in Wikipedia, if you go look there. Of course one can argue endlessly (and many do) about whether or not particular cases fit the definition or not.

Adaptive radiation can be viewed as a special case of punctuated equilibrium, although it is one that involves genetic drift, first identified by Sewall Wright in the 1930s, with Mayr emphasizing geographic separation arising from genetic drift as a key form of this. Adaptive radiation in particular refers to a case where a population wanders into an isolated and underpopulated area, where it can "radiate" quickly into a bunch of different niches. The classic case goes all the way back to Darwin, his finches on the Galapagos islands, although the term was cooked up much more recently. But, this is only one way one can get such rapid evolution in a short time.

The crucial figure on genetic drift was Sewall Wright, one of the "trinity" of the 1930s neo-Darwinians, along with Fisher, whom you praised, and Haldane. Wright's position with them is very controversial. He lived to 1988, and I actually knew him and talked with him on several occasions. Gould's account of his interactions with Wright in TSOET is fascinating, a very complicated relationship. I also note that Wright's statistical work had importance for econometrics, with a paper by him and his father being the first to identify the identification problem.

Anyway, J Thomas, I think you are the one who needs to show that you know what the hell you are talking about. No, you do not control when this scrolls off so that "we are waiting." We are waiting, or at least I am, for you or anybody else here to come up with an idea, any idea, that you can claim on any grounds, you describe them, please, more important in evolutionary theory in the last half century. Neither you nor anybody else has done so yet, despite my repeated challenges.

BTW, I have a website, easily found as the second entry by googling my last name. You can go read my own publications on these matters. Have you ever published anything on evolutionary theory? Has Eliezer besides on blogs?


So, who is your McCabe?


Wise crack.

I'm back.


I agree that ultimately the empirical issue will be more important than this model versus that model. I am not going to get into the debate about the specific math of your model as others have already done so. If you really think you have a strong and new result, submit it to my journal. The referees will be some of the top mathematical population geneticists in the world.

McCabe was the third coauthor on the piece with Smith and Houser of GMU in the Jan. 2004 JEBO special issue that took the hardest pro-Dawkins line. So, when he says "never never never..." this factoid should be kept in mind.

Also, if you do submit the paper, change the title. Indeed, while "Tragedyy of Group Selection" may get the adrenaline flowing for some readers, it is pretty absurd. Tragedy? Who died or was killed or even just had their marriage break up? (maybe a couple arguing about group selection?). Hitler's racist eugenics was tied to millions being killed in the Holocaust. That was tragedy. Stalin's support of the goofy Lamarkism of Lysenko was tied with millions dying in Soviet famines and many better scientists being thrown in jail for disputing Lysenko. This was a tragedy. Get real, please.

Oh yes. While you suggest that the hypercycle is a "whole 'nother story," I would say not really. There are links, even if the precise equations are somewhat different.


Congrats on the reasonably informative links.


Once you are dealing with hominids, which may be the most important example, indeed "enforcement" may well be important. There is a growing lit on how reciprocal altruism ultimately depends on punishment of free riders, that is, enforcement.


Maybe I will get back to you on that point, and maybe I will not. I am about to leave town, and I spend 30 hours a week editing a journal, along with being a full professor of economics. This is why I turned down Robin's invitation to become a co-blogger here. Too damned busy. This is not meant to be a copout or an escape. I already spent a couple of hours I did not have last night digging through Gould again on your other posting.

I will note that the special issue I edited includes a wide variety of views and that there remain sharply contrasting opinions regarding the bottom line. Interestingly, the hardest line defenders of the Dawkins position (he was invited to participate, as were Tooby and Maynard Smith, although they declined), was a paper by GMU's Vernon Smith and Dan Houser, two economists. The political scientist, Axelrod, was also defending that view. The mathematical population geneticists were defending multi-level evolution, at least in principle under the right conditions.

For the record, I think you are a smart guy. If I have the time, I shall get into responding to your specific question. But I gotta go now.

michael vassar,

Yes, but that "common sense" was widely ignored by most evolutionary theorists before Gould pointed it out. His approach is now in all the textbooks. He has also emphasized against some of his less fair critics that his original papers on this were specifically addressed to the paleontologists.

Another part of it, not so obvious and definitely not part of the general lexicon, is the idea of long periods of stasis. This was a point not at all emphasized by anybody prior to Eldredge and Gould, and was the real core of the original aspect of it.

So, what are the top ten ideas of the last half century ahead of it and where are they in the textbooks?

Regarding Darwin, the picture is muddled in that his remarks that look open to p.e. appear in later edtions of Origin of the Species, but not in the first one, where a more hardline gradualist scenario is presented.

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