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Some Notes on Evolution 
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Post Re: Some Notes on Evolution
DB Roy wrote:
Christianity is white supremacy: Christian activist Sandy Rios claims that when the left criticizes white supremacy, they attack Christianity.

Rios, the American Family Association’s Director of Governmental Affairs and a popular defender of extreme conservative Christian values, suggested that criticism of white supremacy is criticism of Christianity while speaking on her radio program, “Sandy Rios in the Morning” on American Family Radio.

So when the left is talking about white supremacism, they’re talking about the roots of this country. They’re talking about Christianity. They’re talking about hard work, about capitalism and free-market values. They’re talking about everything that has made America what it is. That’s what they mean.

I have never heard of Rios, but this doesn't particularly surprise me. The equation of civil rights with ("godless") Communism has deep roots in the Southern society, including Southern Evangelical Protestantism. Fred Clark has something new to say about the link between racism and Evangelical Christianity almost every week on his "Slacktivist" blog on Patheos Progressive Christianity. From him I learned that Liberty University, of Jerry Falwell's family involvement, began as a haven for white Southerners seeking to escape integration. From him I learned that Bob Jones University had close ties to the KKK until its status as a legitimate university was threatened by the Klan connection in the 60s.

Needless to say, homophobia has given fresh umbrage to that movement's motivation. The Southern Baptists tried hard to put racism behind them, giving prominent status to black pastors, for example. Some of those have felt the need to resign from the denomination over Dear Leader's shenanigans and the embrace of his racism by the members in the pews. The tension over the Divider-in-Chief is tearing the denomination apart as young members and People of Color try to hold them accountable and the aging white gentlemen in charge of things try to avoid the topic (along with the topic of sexual harassment by leading pastors).



Fri Aug 16, 2019 10:48 pm
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Post Re: Some Notes on Evolution
For those deny evolution and don't think we evolved from fish, explain why we get hiccups.



Sat Aug 17, 2019 11:06 am
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Post Re: Some Notes on Evolution
DB Roy wrote:
I once worked with a guy who believed in evolution except that God made man. Everything else was evolution but man was created the way Genesis stated. I don't know what Christian sect he belonged to. While I would wager most Americans who label themselves Christian accept evolution, most don't really understand it. The reason, I think, that most of these Christians accept evolution is simply because they are not adamant Christians but are mildly or lax, quasi-Christian. The type of people who say, "I'm not religious but I am spiritual." Whatever that means.

My impression is that "spiritual but not religious" is more a thing with "nones," those who don't subscribe to any institution but want us to know they have their own thoughts on divinity. But that's a quibble, anyway. Your co-worker seems to be onto the creationist talking point of macro- vs. micro-evolution. The more sophisticated believers in that distinction will say that there's no proof that any species, not just humans, have evolved from different species. No one lives long enough to have observed that change, so evolutionists are making "a leap of faith" in asserting otherwise. Evolution does occur within an existing species, that is at the micro level, by means of gene drift and mutation, but nothing really new comes of it.

There would seem to be no threat of such weak claims ever winning the day, but I wonder whether creationists might be able to get away with claiming that they're teaching evolution in schools, by substituting micro-evolution for the real thing. In fact, this is the important issue in the whole evolution "debate": how is evolution being taught in public schools? I know of no research on that question. Unless evolution is front and center in biology instruction, biology isn't being taught. But it's not hard to imagine that teachers could focus on the non-threatening micro aspects while ignoring the actual history of life. And what are the textbooks saying?
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To the point, I find the idea that evolution is responsible for all life on earth except humankind which was created by God to be utterly unacceptable. I am not willing to compromise on that. If you're going to accept evolution then accept it. Only people who don't really understand evolution would think a God-created human race is an acceptable belief.

Agreed. My assumption about theistic evolution is that all parts of neo-Darwinian theory are accepted, but God is overlaid on it, either by saying he invented the process or by saying he is somehow directing it as it happens. Now that probably indicates some lack of understanding of Darwin, but politically for evolutionists, it's damage control.
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The idea that fish evolved but then God created us from some scratch recipe with all the same evolutionary adaptations as the fish doesn't make any sense.

The need to believe that is diminishing, I think. Better science education can make people excited about the wonders of evolution and blah about the magical claims of Genesis.



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Sat Aug 17, 2019 11:58 am
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Post Re: Some Notes on Evolution
DWill wrote:
My impression is that "spiritual but not religious" is more a thing with "nones," those who don't subscribe to any institution but want us to know they have their own thoughts on divinity. But that's a quibble, anyway. Your co-worker seems to be onto the creationist talking point of macro- vs. micro-evolution. The more sophisticated believers in that distinction will say that there's no proof that any species, not just humans, have evolved from different species. No one lives long enough to have observed that change, so evolutionists are making "a leap of faith" in asserting otherwise. Evolution does occur within an existing species, that is at the micro level, by means of gene drift and mutation, but nothing really new comes of it.


I think the most desperate and ridiculous claim against evolution is that God made fossils and put them on the earth to give it the appearance of age. But it is at least an acknowledgement that fossils gum up the creationist works. It's an annoying business for them to have to explain them. If we have to assume that all these fossils were, at one time, living creatures that no longer exist and yet bear striking resemblance to creatures currently living then we have accept that, yes, life forms do indeed evolve over time. Sure we could mumble out some garbage that God just creates similar looking creature and some of them died out but the evidence is too close to bearing out what evolutionists assert. It's better to simply assert that God put them there as mere decoration.

Image

I love posting this photo. For years, the creationists said that if wasps, bees and ants were evolved from a single creature, why are there no fossils showing ant-bees or bee-wasps or wasp-ants or bee-ant-wasps? Every fossil of a bee we had going back about 50 million years showed bees were just bees. Where's transitional fossils? Entomologists said that we simply haven't found any fossils that date back far enough. When we do, we will see hybrids. Creationists laughed and said what a convenient answer! We just haven't found any old enough!! Then, some years ago, the above fossil was discovered in the Hukawng Valley in Myanmar. It shows a 100-million-year-old bee. But it has wasp-like traits not found in modern bees! It is, in fact, a wasp-bee! What do creationists say about it? Nothing. They simply don't acknowledge it. But its presence--no pun intended--stung deep. It not only shows a transitional life form but its discovery happened just as the evolutionists predicted it would--go back far enough and we'll find them and that's exactly what happened. And we can't say it was only put there for decor. The specimen is preserved in amber and very obviously a living creature at one time. Micro-evolution disproved.

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There would seem to be no threat of such weak claims ever winning the day, but I wonder whether creationists might be able to get away with claiming that they're teaching evolution in schools, by substituting micro-evolution for the real thing. In fact, this is the important issue in the whole evolution "debate": how is evolution being taught in public schools? I know of no research on that question. Unless evolution is front and center in biology instruction, biology isn't being taught. But it's not hard to imagine that teachers could focus on the non-threatening micro aspects while ignoring the actual history of life. And what are the textbooks saying?


Good question. I don't know. It's worrisome that different areas of the country are teaching different things. If Kansas allows ID to be taught, I would never hire anybody from Kansas to teach a biology class. It hurts those Kansans who don't buy that stupid stuff. All education has to be standardized across the country. All must be taught the same thing so we can gauge how much American students actually know and don't know.

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Agreed. My assumption about theistic evolution is that all parts of neo-Darwinian theory are accepted, but God is overlaid on it, either by saying he invented the process or by saying he is somehow directing it as it happens. Now that probably indicates some lack of understanding of Darwin, but politically for evolutionists, it's damage control.


It's more than that. In many ways, it's a victory for them because a very large number of Americans accept that. They are willing to go with that idea and if you disagree, you are being intolerant and wanting everything your way. They don't understand that adding god to it doesn't improve it in the slightest. It allows them to hold on to their comforting god beliefs so they'll buy it.

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The need to believe that is diminishing, I think. Better science education can make people excited about the wonders of evolution and blah about the magical claims of Genesis.


I'm quite fascinated with evolution. The deeper I study into it, the more fascinating it is. Every time I look at a fish, I see the animal we came from, the animal that gave us everything we have, the animal without whom we would not exist. It is fascinating to think that all life forms on this planet are actually related. We all came from some cell that existed maybe a half a million years after the earth formed. We are everything and everything is us.



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Post Re: Some Notes on Evolution
DWill wrote:
My impression is that "spiritual but not religious" is more a thing with "nones," those who don't subscribe to any institution but want us to know they have their own thoughts on divinity.
But in practice it's also a way to avoid thinking about their spirituality. It is theoretically possible to have a deep mystical relationship with Life/God/The Oversoul, without interacting with religion on a regular basis. Annie Dillard and Anne Rice and Elaine Pagels seem to have been on that track for a while, each of them. Mary Chapin Carpenter has a poignant song about it. This may very well be related to the lack of professional opportunities for intelligent women interested in religion.

But it may also be related to the compromises needed to have an institutional base capable of perpetuating received wisdom. Religion tends to turn people off because it is pretty much a given that some of its institutional structures will be out-dated and off-putting at any given point in history. And we are moving so fast, culturally, these days that the problem of "old wineskins" or outdated forms is getting acute. To use a gentle but serious example, large portions of Christianity are questioning the whole idea of a theologically educated clergy. It seems unlikely to me that in 30 years many members of any given church will care if their pastor can read Greek (or Arabic or Chinese). When the local Lord could appoint the rector as a sinecure, they also paid them. But to get the pay out of parishioners, the pastor should be good at "tickling their ears."

The longer I live, the more convinced I am that we meet God by encountering other people. So I am deeply suspicious of those claiming spirituality who are not willing to plunge into religion and get their hands dirty. Getting along with other people is what spirituality is really (though not obviously) about. Yes, I know, it's about the meaning of life, but I don't think even the most dedicated yogi has a legit take on the meaning of life that does not pull them into engagement with other people. Pursue some solitude, by all means. Get acquainted with your self. But if you do that and are still running from the life of others, you skipped over some important parts.

DB Roy wrote:
I think the most desperate and ridiculous claim against evolution is that God made fossils and put them on the earth to give it the appearance of age.
Yes, and She went to the trouble of burying them in their proper strata of geology, with others from the same Age that wasn't an Age, and with the right matching carbon isotopes in the ratio corresponding to their Age that is not their Age. All for a laugh, evidently, at how easy it is to get people into Hell by just burying fossils. It's a really sick view of God, regardless of what you think of that view of evidence and science. Sort of Stockholm Syndrome run amuck.

DB Roy wrote:
Where's transitional fossils? Entomologists said that we simply haven't found any fossils that date back far enough. When we do, we will see hybrids. Creationists laughed and said what a convenient answer! We just haven't found any old enough!! Then, some years ago, the above fossil was discovered in the Hukawng Valley in Myanmar. It shows a 100-million-year-old bee. But it has wasp-like traits not found in modern bees! It is, in fact, a wasp-bee! What do creationists say about it? Nothing. They simply don't acknowledge it.
Yes, it's always striking how ready the Creationists are to move on to the next talking point when the previous one went bust. Much like conspiracy theorists. Their job (in both cases) is not to find truth, but to find talking points to cover the gap between evidence and their worldview.

The examples of transitional fossils claimed to be non-existent and then found are getting to be so numerous that one might think the Creationists would give up on that approach. But since no one in their support structures holds them accountable, they won't. The same specious claims of impossible complexity, etc. will be made in 50 years, but with "new" examples. And the world will still be about to end.
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In many ways, it's a victory for them because a very large number of Americans accept that. They are willing to go with that idea and if you disagree, you are being intolerant and wanting everything your way. They don't understand that adding god to it doesn't improve it in the slightest. It allows them to hold on to their comforting god beliefs so they'll buy it.
The "intolerant" idea about mainstream culture is relatively new. I think some of it came from being asked to accept gay marriage, and that this taps into resentment still lurking because people were asked to accept race-mixing, which they had told themselves was wrong.

It requires some values clarification. Are we obligated to teach flat earth just because some people have convinced themselves it is religiously based? No. We can tolerate flat-earthers, but not claims that it has a right to be taught in schools. We probably need to insist on vaccination, and the discussion with Orthodox conscientious objectors will have to be polite but firm. I personally think it would help if we hold religion accountable for basing their religion on prescriptive, not descriptive, claims.
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Every time I look at a fish, I see the animal we came from, the animal that gave us everything we have, the animal without whom we would not exist. It is fascinating to think that all life forms on this planet are actually related.
So what's the significance of hiccups? I had not run across that one.
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We are everything and everything is us.
That's very mystical and non-dual.



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Post Re: Some Notes on Evolution
We get hiccups because it is a holdover from the ancient semi-terrestrial fish. Those fish had lungs and gills. When submerged, they automatically closed off their breathing tubes to protect their lungs. When emerging to the air, their breathing tubes automatically opened back up so they could breathe with their lungs . We still retain this reflex although it is just a vestigial holdover now. When this reflex is triggered, we involuntarily experience it as hiccups.



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Post Re: Some Notes on Evolution
DWill wrote:
. . . The need to believe that is diminishing, I think. Better science education can make people excited about the wonders of evolution and blah about the magical claims of Genesis.

One of the sticky points of fundamentalist belief, I think, has to do with a fallacious appeal to antiquity—also referred to as appeal to tradition. The universe is so ordered, just as our forbears saw it. These traditions must be valid and true by virtue of their antiquity and by the fact that they have been passed down the generations. A bit of circular logic there, but there is much appeal to this idea, especially if you are of a conservative temperament.

The Catholic Church is a great example of institutionalized resistance to change, which is women still can't be ordained as priests. There is a long history of the Church being men only and it would take tsunami of cultural upheaval to change it. As recently as 1994, Pope John Paul II reaffirmed that "only a Catholic male validly receives ordination, and "that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women." (Wikipedia). Obviously the same goes for transgenders.

That said, some traditions are valid and can be shown to be useful over long periods of time. It goes to show that if you are of a liberal temperament, you are probably more inclined to freely toss the old traditions away, sometimes to our detriment.


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Post Re: Some Notes on Evolution
Opponents of science often think of it as a big wall of nihilism and negation of everything that makes life meaningful via reductionism. In truth, branches of science hold differing conclusions on the efficacy of reductionism. The basic reductionist idea is that everything from one-celled animals reproducing at the bottom of a pond to lovers cuddling in a gondola floating down a canal in Venice to supernovas bursting into brilliant colors and fantastic shapes to pastel sunsets behind the distant mountain range are all the same thing at their root--particles in motion. This reduction comes in stages. Two lovers coupled in passion reduce to interactions of humans to interactions of organisms then to organs then to cells then to biochemistry to organic chemistry to chemistry to physics to particle physics to matter warping space which puts the particles in motion from which all else arises. Ultimately, we are particles in motion. Consciousness, knowledge, love, values and economy are little more than illusions--byproducts that arise when particles in motion interact.

This is essentially a Newtonian way of thinking and many scientists have a hard time shedding the Newtonian clockwork universe. Quantum Theory has poked holes in this Newtonian reductionist idea. The role of consciousness appears far more fundamental that reductionism can account. Still, some as Dennett, maintain that consciousness is merely an illusion. Dennett states that there is no center that receives sensory input that puts a full, continuous, complete, edited model of reality together but rather many incomplete drafts are formed in the brain and submitted to nothing. There is a certain elegance to this line of thought but I ultimately reject it. If there are many incomplete drafts of reality floating around in my brain, why does it seem to me that I have a single, coherent model? Why would it be necessary? Further, what is the "me" I refer to? Ultimately, consciousness, whatever it is, is real. But it is not reducible to physics, to particles in motion.

Evolution is the same way. It cannot be reduced to physics. Why can't it be, you may ask? Because particles in motion don't predict evolution. You cannot foresee the wide variety of organisms arising and changing from looking at particles in motion. We refer to this as "emergence." That which is emergent is not reducible to physics because the physics has no predictive power to foresee that emergence.

Image

Life is itself emergent. Living things in all their bewildering diversity cannot be reduced to physics.

Image

So what? You might be thinking. But consider the implication:

If we can't reduce the biosphere to physics upon which natural law is based, then it is beyond natural law and there can be no descriptions that could describe the diversity of organisms before it happened. Galileo's belief that the universe follows natural law is untrue. Think of it! There are no laws governing the unfolding of our biosphere! It happens on its own at that moment! In other words, the biosphere is self-constructing, self-directing, at every moment.

Likewise, we don't need any kind of god. No god was needed to create the universe and no god is required to keep it going. Creativity is inherent in the universe. It self-creates, it self-governs, and requires no laws. The universe is an anarchist--not in the sense of lawless chaos but in the sense and it requires no laws in order to function. It is non-authoritarian. In this universe, there is no room for god because there is no need of one.



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Post Re: Some Notes on Evolution
Your post reminds me of the work of Stuart Kauffman, the complexity theorist who in books such as Reinventing the Sacred, elaborates the theory of self-organization. If what people want from religion is partly a sense of the mystery of the universe, they can find it in evolution. Kaufmann says that evolution operates patly on natural law, but its unfolding ultimately is beyond any natural law we've been able to discover. While he doesn't say Darwin was wrong about anything, he does suggest that natural selection isn't sufficient to explain evolution, and that we have to look at self-organization to conceive of the real nature of the process, although we may never be able to explain it.



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Post Re: Some Notes on Evolution
Yes, I am presenting the ideas of Kauffman and Hazen--although they will not be only ones. I presented some of the ideas of Neil Shubin already also. I want to expose readers of the thread to all the thoughts and ideas of the modern evolutionist. These aren't MY ideas in case anyone wants to argue with me. I'm afraid I don't have anywhere close tot he qualifications. These are the latest and most salient ideas currently being floated in the sphere of evolutionist thought.

I did bring up Dennett on my own because I've read him and I think he's important. While I reject his conclusions on consciousness, I don't disparage him. We need people like him to throw these ideas into the ring of public debate. His ideas are well thought out and I appreciate his efforts--and I DO agree with a lot of what he says. But I just don't agree that consciousness is an illusion. But I like that he presents a well-researched and structured argument for it. He's a valuable devil's advocate.



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Post Re: Some Notes on Evolution
DB Roy wrote:
Evolution is the same way. It cannot be reduced to physics. Why can't it be, you may ask? Because particles in motion don't predict evolution. You cannot foresee the wide variety of organisms arising and changing from looking at particles in motion. We refer to this as "emergence." That which is emergent is not reducible to physics because the physics has no predictive power to foresee that emergence.


Hmm. I believe one of the chapters in Dennett's DARWIN'S DANGEROUS IDEA is entitled "Biology Is Engineering" and another entitled "Who's Afraid of Reductionism?" I suspect one of the major stumbling blocks to understanding biology (and consciousness) in terms of pure physics and engineering is the steep learning curve. Maybe humans simply don't have the chops to figure it all out or maybe we just need worlds enough and time. So far every layer of the onion pulled back reveals many more layers underneath. (As such "reductionism" may rather a misnomer.) So I don't think we're in danger of figuring it all out any time soon.

But certainly at least some emergent properties are predictable. I believe it was Dawkins who pointed out that eyes will tend to appear in worlds where vision is an advantage, as they have on earth several times. Wings too. Fins will appear in aquatic environments. Life itself is an emergent property, but only in environments conducive to it.

Difficult to test empirically, I know. But it seems rather intuitive to understand that where flight may serve to be advantageous to a creature's survival, wings will likely emerge at some point.


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Post Re: Some Notes on Evolution
DB Roy wrote:
Ultimately, we are particles in motion. Consciousness, knowledge, love, values and economy are little more than illusions--byproducts that arise when particles in motion interact.


The problem here is the meaning of this metaphysical term "ultimately". The reality of what we are can be viewed scientifically as meaning how we explain the causal mechanisms of existence. Alternatively, existence can be explored in a systems way, asking how you as an individual connect to the rest of reality.

Causal explanation breaks down the meso-level reality of personal existence into its physical factors, cascading from biology to physics. While of course that scientific explanation is powerful and true, its problem is that it lacks capacity to discuss how human experience is primarily spiritual, formed by relationships of language and care where the constructed entities of the world acquire an evolutionary memetic force of their own, separate from their genetic identity.

The physical explanation of evolution underpins the identity of the soul as an emergent property, but the meaning of being in the world as care requires acceptance of the spiritual autonomy of our constructed world. "Ultimately", it makes just as much sense to set the ideal value framework of being in the world as the axiomatic foundation of systematic logic as it does to accept the materialist picture developed in the scientific worldview.


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Post Re: Some Notes on Evolution
DB Roy wrote:
For those deny evolution and don't think we evolved from fish, explain why we get hiccups.



Eating too much or too quickly
Feeling nervous or excited
Drinking carbonated beverages or too much alcohol
Stress
A sudden change in temperature
Swallowing air while sucking on candy or chewing gum
webmd.com/digestive-disorders/why-do-i- ... i-hiccup#1


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Post Re: Some Notes on Evolution
Litwitlou wrote:


Eating too much or too quickly
Feeling nervous or excited
Drinking carbonated beverages or too much alcohol
Stress
A sudden change in temperature
Swallowing air while sucking on candy or chewing gum
webmd.com/digestive-disorders/why-do-i- ... i-hiccup#1
[/quote]

Those are the triggers of the reflex but not the reflex itself. I've often gotten hiccups for no reason at all. There is no particular reason why we should get hiccups. It doesn't serve any purpose. If you get hiccups while playing one of the members of the violin family, that can ruin a recital. Where does this reflex come from? We didn't evolve to have it, it's something carried forward in the course of our evolution that we don't need but we can't get rid of in one fell swoop and I've explained what that is.



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Post Re: Some Notes on Evolution
DB Roy wrote:
Those are the triggers of the reflex but not the reflex itself. I've often gotten hiccups for no reason at all. There is no particular reason why we should get hiccups. It doesn't serve any purpose. If you get hiccups while playing one of the members of the violin family, that can ruin a recital. Where does this reflex come from? We didn't evolve to have it, it's something carried forward in the course of our evolution that we don't need but we can't get rid of in one fell swoop and I've explained what that is.


From what I understand all life evolved from single cell organisms. To pick fish, from the vast array of life forms in the millions of years before the existence of hominids as the reason for hiccups, is far-fetched. Yes, hiccups can ruin a recital but so can a psychopath with an AR15. From what life form did we inherit sociopathy? There is no particular reason we should have sociopaths. They serve no purpose.

Hiccups are an overwhelmingly innocuous side effect of the evolution of our digestive and respiratory systems. Fish need not enter the equation as per Occam's Razor. I read your explanation of the fish/hiccups theory and remain spectacularly unconvinced.

I am very curious to know where you found the information on which you based that theory.


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