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Poll: Does the Theory of Evolution have practical applications?

Discussion in 'Creation & Evolution' started by pitabread, Jan 8, 2021.

  1. I'm a creationist: YES, the Theory of Evolution has practical applications.

    5.7%
  2. I'm a creationist: NO, the Theory of Evolution does NOT have practical applications.

    8.6%
  3. I'm an evolutionist: YES, the Theory of Evolution has practical applications.

    85.7%
  4. I'm an evolutionist: NO, the Theory of Evolution does NOT have practical applications.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. I'm a creationist: I am unsure if the Theory of Evolution has practical applications.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  6. I'm an evolutionist: I am unsure if the Theory of Evolution has practical applications.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
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  1. pitabread

    pitabread Well-Known Member

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    Pretty straight-forward question for both creationists and evolutionists of the forum.

    For the purpose of this poll/thread, I'm defining a creationist as someone who rejects the idea that species share common ancestry as per the modern Theory of Evolution. Evolutionists are defined as those who accept common ancestry of species.
     
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  2. Ophiolite

    Ophiolite Recalcitrant Procrastinating Ape

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    As an evolutionist I have voted yes. I would add these two observations:
    • There are probably a great many practical applications I am unaware of.
    • In consequence, I tend to think (probably incorrectly) that the number and value of the practical observations are exaggerated.
    To illustrate my uncertainty, to what extent was the production of Covid vaccines a practical application of evolution, rather than just a development that acknowledged the existence of evolution?
     
  3. pitabread

    pitabread Well-Known Member

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    I don't know about Covid-19 vaccines specifically, but I have read about phylogenetics (e.g. evolutionary relationships) being applied in drug discovery pipelines in the past. To what extent such application has yielded successful results I am not sure though.

    It would probably require someone familiar with the pharmaceutical industry and drug development to really speak to that.
     
  4. Ophiolite

    Ophiolite Recalcitrant Procrastinating Ape

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    These are the kind of examples I ambivalent about. I wish to stress this uncertainty arises from lack of knowledge (and curiosity) and not a belief that evolution theory does not have practical applications.
    For example, phylogenetic relationships have been established. I suspect that it is these relationships that are important in developing drugs, not what caused the relationships (i.e. evolution). In other words, if we envisaged that the relationships had been imposed by alien visitors, it would not make any difference to the drug development. This suspicion on my part is what I'm hoping someone can refute or confirm. But thanks for the input.
     
  5. pitabread

    pitabread Well-Known Member

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    Phylogenetics is by definition the study of evolutionary relationships. It is on that basis that phylogenetic trees are constructed. And the trees themselves do provide data on which comparisons can be made between species such as relative relationships between species and time of divergence.

    I suppose if one wanted to claim that those relationships are otherwise illusionary, that's their prerogative. But I'm not aware of any alien-based taxonomy or a basis thereof. ;)
     
  6. Ophiolite

    Ophiolite Recalcitrant Procrastinating Ape

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    I understand phylogenetics (well as much as any geologist who preferred petrology to palaeontology.)

    My point is either subtle, or irrelevant. My uncertainty lies in which of those two it is.

    There are apparent relationships between organisms. You and I think those relationships reflect the evolutionary pathways the organisms have followed. But the relationships exist regardless of how they originated. Consequently one need not acept evolution in order to make use of those relationships. One might either posit another source for the relationships (my imaginary aliens), or simply ignore the cause entirely and focus only on the result.

    Does that make my thoughts any clearer.
     
  7. pitabread

    pitabread Well-Known Member

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    I'm not entirely following here. Are we talking specifically about the use of phylogenetic trees? Or are we talking about relationships between organisms in absence of said trees?

    In the case of the former, anyone using phylogenetic trees is effectively applying the ToE regardless of whether they accept it. It would be like claiming to reject Newtonian physics, but then using Newton's laws in calculations. It doesn't really make any sense.

    In the case of the latter, if someone rejected the ToE it wouldn't make any sense of them to construct or use phylogenetic trees in the first place. They'd have to come up with some other taxonomic methodology first.
     
  8. Ophiolite

    Ophiolite Recalcitrant Procrastinating Ape

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    Let me try an analogy. If I were a Flat Earth advocate I could still make use of maps, whose construction was based upon a spherical Earth, in order to find my way on foot through the Yorkshire Dales.
     
  9. Bungle_Bear

    Bungle_Bear Whoot!

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    I think you are saying: we agree that phylogenetic relationships exist. But are they an output of ToE or do they exist independently of ToE and are "simply" evidence in support of ToE? Therefore, is it actually ToE which is being used for drug research, or is it the phylogenetic relationships being used and they could be used even if ToE turned out to be false?
     
  10. Ophiolite

    Ophiolite Recalcitrant Procrastinating Ape

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    Yes. That's pretty much it.

    Some might view it as nitpicking - and they might be right. However, if we value accuracy I think we should avoid making questionable claims as if they were a given. So, I suggest and suspect that not all "practical applications" of the TOE can properly be considered such. I'm not to concerned as to whcih side the coin would fall, I'd just like to know with more clarity than I have at present.
     
  11. pitabread

    pitabread Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps it also helps to discuss how phylogenetic tree construction is performed. There is no singular method. Depending on the method used, it's not just a case of identifying relationships between organisms, but there is implicit modeling of how those relationships occurred.

    It is possible to create phylogenetic trees based on nothing more than raw similarities. In such methodologies there is no implicit model of evolution assumed. Therefore if the similarities arose in a manner other than evolution, the resulting trees are independent of that.

    However, the most common methodologies to create phylogenetic trees (e.g. maximum parsimony, maximum likelihood) do utilize evolutionary modeling based on assumptions of how those similarities between sequence comparisons arose. Essentially there are constraints being applied to those models based on an understanding and assumption of how evolution works. In the context of those methods I don't see how one would necessarily divorce the ToE from the construction of said phylogenetic trees, because the assumptions are implicitly derived from the ToE.
     
  12. Ophiolite

    Ophiolite Recalcitrant Procrastinating Ape

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    I'm doing a poor job of getting my essential point across. What you say here is correct, but it is not the situation I am envisaging.
    • Phylogenetic tree constructed by Group A based on evolutionary principles
    • Group P, who disbelief TOE, use the phylogentic tree for (unspecified) practical purpose
    In this scenario it seems to me that we cannot accurately say that the TOE has been used for practical purposes. As I said at the outset this distinction may not be important (though it might be). But it is one that bugs me, hence my discussion of it here, seeking other perspectives, in which regard your input is helpful.
     
  13. pitabread

    pitabread Well-Known Member

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    It's arguably both and it boils down to the methodologies/models used to construct phylogenetic trees in the first place.
     
  14. pitabread

    pitabread Well-Known Member

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    If a phylogenetic tree is constructed on the basis of evolutionary modeling/assumption and then used for practical purposes, the beliefs of the individual(s) using the tree is irrelevant. In this context, it is an application of the ToE.

    To look at it another way, would the same tree still exist in the absence of an evolutionary model? If the model is specifically used to construct the tree, then we can't assume the tree would exist in the absence thereof.
     
  15. Kylie

    Kylie Defeater of Illogic

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    Yes, the theory of evolution has practical applications.

    Here's an example of one.

    If you are sick, you may be prescribed a course of antibiotics. The doctor is going to tell you to finish the entire course of antibiotics, even if you feel better before the end. The reason why is because of evolution.

    Here's why:

    Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. So basically, you have a whole bunch of bacteria inside you making you feel sick. The antibiotics will kill them. But, not each individual bacterium is the same as all it's neighbours. Some will be very susceptible to the antibiotic and will die out quickly. Others will be more resistant, and it will take them longer to die from the treatment.

    When you start the course of antibiotics, the weaker bacteria will be killed off first. Within a few days, most of the bacteria will be dead. Only a few will remain alive, but these ones will be the ones most resistant to the antibiotics.

    At this point, you are probably going to be feeling pretty good. After all, nearly all of the bacteria are dead, and the few that remain aren't enough to make you feel bad. So you might decide to stop taking the antibiotics.

    Now, the few remaining bacteria have nothing trying to kill them, so they start reproducing and increasing in number. Pretty soon you are feeling pretty bad again. You might start back up on the course of antibiotics, but all the bacteria inside you are descended from the ones that are most resistant to the antibiotics. So they will be able to withstand the effects much better. It will take you a long time to start feeling any benefit, and that's if you don't finish the remaining part of the antibiotics that you were given.

    In short, the bacteria inside you evolved a resistance to the antibiotics. This is what is responsible for the rise of the so-called "superbug" and antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. Evolution explains that, and it is evolutionary theory that tells us why we should always finish the full course of antibiotics when we are prescribed them.
     
  16. pitabread

    pitabread Well-Known Member

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    Interesting that not a single creationist has elected to vote on this poll. I wonder why that is?
     
  17. driewerf

    driewerf a day at the Zoo

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    The post below is a kind of combination of three posts I posted on a different board, so it's not always consistent. Yet I think it's cool:
    A simple and elegant way to show evolution in action was set up by professor Kishony and his team. A gigantic petri dish was divided in lanes with increasing concentration of antibiotics, from (0 , no antibiotics: 1 just enough to kill all bacteria, gradually up to 1000 x the concentration of 1). Different strains of Escherichia Coli were spotted in the 0 lane. As this lane got filled and the places for new bacteria got depleted the bacteria were pushing against the boundary of the 10 lane. Only those bacteria and their descendants that got the suitable mutations for surviving in a higher concentration of antibiotics made it to the next lane. The experiment filmed over 11 days shows clearly that bacteria can evolve a resistance to a 1000 fold stronger concentration of antibiotics than the wild type bacteria.



    Here you have the same experiment, but with professor Kishony explaining the experiment



    It shows that evolution is cumulative. Each mutation increases the resistance to the antibiotics in an incremental way (see how the growth of the culture pauses at every boundary and how the growth always start at one tiny spot).



    It is also very good at refuting a misunderstanding about the phrase “Survival of the fittest”. This is often misunderstood as killing all other competitors. But that is more often not the case. The fittest here are obviously these bacteria that can survive in a more hostile environment (a petri dish with antibiotics), not against each other.

    Finally it answers the “refutation” used by some creationists “if we descend from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?”. Well here we see that the resistant bacteria descend from lesser resistant bacteria, that continue to stay in the environment (the lane) in which they can survive.

    a technical paper published by the team

    Spatiotemporal microbial evolution on antibiotic landscapes

    the website of Roy Kishony's research institue:

    Home - Kishony lab

    The OP described an experiment performed by Roy Kishony and his team in which bacteria (Escherichia coli) were gradually exposed to increasing concentrations of antibiotics; and the bacteria evolved a growing resistance to these antibiotics. There is a practical application to this experiment. The administration of medication to patients, and especially the administration of different drugs together.

    The experiment as described in the OP confronted E coli with gradually increasing concentrations of antibiotics. Kishony et al tested the reaction of a bacteria population when confronted with a 2000 fold concentration in one single step. There the population wasn't able to evolve the resistance against the antibiotics. The adaptation had to be gradually.

    But with a mix of medication drugs can have different effects. The can act additives, i.e. each drug contribute as if it acted alone (2 +3 = 5, so to speak). They can act synergistically, i.e; the two drugs reinforce each other (2 + 3 = 6). Or they can show an antagonism, weakening each other’s working, (2+3= 4). From different experiments it has been shown that when, for medical reasons, a small dose of medication needs to be applied for a longer time, the danger of having antibiotics resistance is the highest with drugs that act synergistically. Against all intuition, for small prolonged doses an antagonistic mix of drugs might work better.

    To have better understanding of how drug resistance evolves in bacteria is a cool and useful application of the Kishony experiment, and will give medical staff better tools to cure patients and avoid the emergence of drug resistance in the batcteria they fight.


    sources:

    Accelerated evolution of resistance in multidrug environments

    Spatiotemporal microbial evolution on antibiotic landscapes

    (PDF) The Kishony Mega-Plate Experiment, a Markov Process Running Title: The Kishony Mega-Plate Experiment

    Suppressive drug combinations and their potential to combat antibiotic resistance

    https://www.researchgate.net/profil...ated-antagonistic-antibiotic-interactions.pdf
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2021
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  18. driewerf

    driewerf a day at the Zoo

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    The ToE has practical applications, see the post above. But I didn't vote.
    I object to call myself an evolutionist. Creationists may call themselves creationists. they have decided a position and are shoehorning reality into their preconceived "conclusion".
    I didn't. I studied sciences (that brighter people than me gathered) and reached a conclusion after study. The ToE is the conclusion after empirical investigation, not a position in which reality needs to be forced.
    "Empiricist" doesn't cover it completely, but comes closer than evolutionist.

    We, science minded people, should object every time we are called "evolutionists". It is completely idiotic to use that we self call us that way.
     
  19. pitabread

    pitabread Well-Known Member

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    For the record, it's not just creationists that refer to evolutionists as, well, evolutionists. I've seen the term used in scientific circles as well.

    I even used to own a book literally titled "The Evolutionists" that was a series of essays of different scientific opinions on evolution and evolutionary mechanisms.
     
  20. driewerf

    driewerf a day at the Zoo

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    I stand by my opinion. I think it is not wise to adopt that name for us self. I don't identify as an evolutionist anyway.

    Since it is fashionable to label anyone with even the slightest difference of opinion as "in name only" (RINO), can I label the authors of that book as SCINOs? ;)
     
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