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Guns, Germs, and Steel two: Constraints and Niches 
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Post Guns, Germs, and Steel two: Constraints and Niches
Part of Diamond's case is that humans have demonstrated in numerous ways that we will exploit the material available to us. When one group of humans goes thousands of years longer than another domesticating local crops, the greater agriculture success of one group as compared to the other could be almost entirely due to the variety of candidate crops that happen to grow in that group's territory.

This strikes me of evidence in favor of the Gould/"constraints" view of evolution in general, and against the Dawkins/"Whatever is Needed" view. This is especially interesting to me because my inclination is usually toward Dawkins. Dawkins', and Darwin's, view of evolution is that the necessary variation will probably show up sooner or later, so it is the selective pressure that matters most. It seems to me that if cultural evolution can be shown to be strongly related to the botanic raw material available, then it points toward biological evolution being constrained by possible paths as opposed to evolving into whatever niche is available.




Sat Feb 08, 2003 9:57 pm
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Post Re: Guns, Germs, and Steel two: Constraints and Niches
Lan: The evolutionary trait in question here could be seen to be domesticating crops, in which case it evolved in each instance. That the crops available were themselves harder to cultivate in the latter case than the former isn't under the control of humans, and therefore changes the niche to be filled.




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Post Re: Guns, Germs, and Steel two: Constraints and Niches
Yes... I was thinking more in terms of analogy, however, than correllation.

To be more specific: Available plant species are to agriculture as available alleles are to adaptation.

Edited by: Jeremy1952 at: 2/9/03 8:08:19 am



Sun Feb 09, 2003 12:03 am
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Post Re: Guns, Germs, and Steel two: Constraints and Niches
I'd be willing to say that's a faulty analogy, based on the fact that mutation is a random process, and so "available alleles" aren't really constrained in any way other than that you can only have x many. While it is true that evolution is constrained by available alleles (if you don't have an allele to process vent chemicals for energy, you won't be doing so), that doesn't mean that such alleles won't eventually become available, as per Dawkins and Darwin.


Remember Jeremy: Much of Punctuated Equilibrium can be shown to not apply to vertebrate evolution--the entire theory was based off of prehistoric marine invertebrates.




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Post Re: Guns, Germs, and Steel two: Constraints and Niches
Zach
Quote:
I'd be willing to say that's a faulty analogy, based on the fact that mutation is a random process, and so "available alleles" aren't really constrained in any way other than that you can only have x many. While it is true that evolution is constrained by available alleles (if you don't have an allele to process vent chemicals for energy, you won't be doing so), that doesn't mean that such alleles won't eventually become available, as per Dawkins and Darwin.

Remember Jeremy: Much of Punctuated Equilibrium can be shown to not apply to vertebrate evolution--the entire theory was based off of prehistoric marine invertebrates.
My sympathies lie more with Dawkins than with Gould. I find it interesting food for thought, however. Your analysis of the analogy strikes me as circular. In essence, you have said that evidence of constraint can't be valid because constraint isn't valid. Assuming the conclusion, in other words.

Mutation may be random, but a mutation can't become an allele unless its organism survives; thus, constraint. The core difference of opinion is how much constraint vs. how much variation. Nobody denies that both exist.




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Post Re: Guns, Germs, and Steel two: Constraints and Niches
Jeremy, I didn't say that constraint is not valid, I implied that constraint is negligible given a sufficient timeline.




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Post Re: Guns, Germs, and Steel two: Constraints and Niches
Agreed




Mon Feb 10, 2003 7:14 pm
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Post Re: Guns, Germs, and Steel two: Constraints and Niches
Jeremy

Damn I wish you had been around for the discussion of Jared Diamonds "Guns, Germs, And Steel." Overall the discussion forum was relatively inactive, even though Jared Diamond had agreed to be our geust in the chat room. Maybe we can redo this book down the line.

Chris

Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 10/30/05 3:38 pm



Tue Feb 11, 2003 10:43 am
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Post Re: Guns, Germs, and Steel two: Constraints and Niches
Thanks. I'm enjoying the book imensely; on the other hand, I have to admit it isn't an easy read at all. Also the comments I've made are peripheral to what Diamond is talking about. I'll have more to say about his main thesis when I've finished the book.




Tue Feb 11, 2003 11:04 am
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Post Re: Guns, Germs, and Steel two: Constraints and Niches
In some ways I think Pinker and Diamond are at odds with each other. We should definitely put "The Blank Slate" on the poll for May & June. In fact, I'm going to post a poll right now in the book suggestion forum pertaining to a new idea for our book polls. Check it out.

Chris

Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 10/30/05 3:38 pm



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Post Re: Guns, Germs, and Steel two: Constraints and Niches
Jeremy:

I moved this thread to this forum since it pertains to Guns, Germs and Steel. These book forums never die so feel free to continue the discussions even when we have moved to another book.

Chris

Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 10/30/05 3:38 pm



Thu Feb 20, 2003 7:49 pm
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