Join 3,496 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


42
January 24, 2012 7:52 AM   Subscribe

What Happened Before the Big Bang? The New Philosophy of Cosmology
posted by fearfulsymmetry (50 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Pics or it didn't happen.
posted by crunchland at 7:56 AM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Great read! Many thanks!
posted by Thorzdad at 8:01 AM on January 24, 2012


Maudlin: "This is all within the purview of a scientific attempt to come to grips with the physical world."
The interviewee seems foolishly sentimental about the universe's inception.
posted by obscurator at 8:02 AM on January 24, 2012


Isn't the "philosophy of cosmology" just theoretical physics without the math? I.e., fucking around?
posted by eugenen at 8:10 AM on January 24, 2012 [13 favorites]


Define before.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:10 AM on January 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


The Big Coyote puffed and puffed in a vain attempt to blow out the Big Fuse.
posted by swift at 8:11 AM on January 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


The science writer John Horgan once referred to cosmology (and Hawking's work in particular) as "ironic science," and this is a perfect example of what he meant. General speculation about things like dark energy or what happened before the big bang may be fun, but it isn't science and I'm not sure it should count as serious philosophy either. I think eugenen's definition ("fucking around") is a much more reasonable one.
posted by pete_22 at 8:13 AM on January 24, 2012


Isn't the "philosophy of cosmology" just theoretical physics without the math? I.e., fucking around?

I presume you've never read any serious works in the philosophy of physics? Modern philosophy of physics is basically a subset of theoretical physics, not a subset of mainstream philosophy.
posted by howfar at 8:14 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I presume you've never read any serious works in the philosophy of physics? Modern philosophy of physics is basically a subset of theoretical physics, not a subset of mainstream philosophy.

Yeah I have to second this. Some of the best, or at least most interesting philosophy, is being done in Physics departments. A cursory search of arxive should turn up a treasure trove of papers and articles on the philosophy of physics. If anyone is really interested in the philosophy of physics I suggest reading On Physics and Philosophy by Bernard d'Espagnat.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:32 AM on January 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


I was hoping for science. This was philosophy... : (
posted by Windopaene at 8:37 AM on January 24, 2012


Sadly I fell at the first hurdle - the loathsome "So" sentence starter.
posted by falcon at 8:40 AM on January 24, 2012


So for you that's enough to invalidate the entire article?
posted by benito.strauss at 8:47 AM on January 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


What Happened Before the Big Bang?

Well there's this asshole man-whore who sits on a couch and makes money writing jingles and his brother and some funny fat kid.
posted by Fizz at 8:51 AM on January 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


the loathsome "So" sentence starter

"Don't pay too much attention to the sounds, for if you do, you may miss the music. You won't get a wild, heroic ride to heaven on pretty little sounds."

-George Ives [father of Charles]
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:53 AM on January 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


The sequence of arbitrary vibrations that produce an emotional response in your brain has no objectively measurable virtue. The admonition that we may miss the music assumes that our distinct randomly developed stimulus-response will result in a equally pleasing response. The notion of cosmology is just an ultimately pointless exercise in trying to accept ones utter insignificance and irrelevance to the big picture. The notion that self awareness exists, or is much less some precious thing is just nonsense. Important to whom?

As Louise Gl├╝ck wrote:
"Why would I make you if I meant to limit myself to the ascendent sign, the star, the fury?"
posted by humanfont at 9:14 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, we should stop introducing sentences with "so" and start using "forsooth" instead. I, for one, plan to get right on that.

And for those of you deriding philosophy of physics as "fucking around" -- as if it were the equivalent of a bar-room chat -- I defy you to read serious work by Earman, Malament, Callender, Sklar, Albert, van Fraassen, Price, Redei, Belot, Ruetsche, ..., or really any of the best philosophers of physics today and honestly maintain that view.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 9:24 AM on January 24, 2012 [11 favorites]


I always get a little worried when I read these type of article (and articles about quantum mechanics) that I'll read something that breaks my brain permanently. (The Delayed choice and quantum eraser variations for example come really close)
posted by bottlebrushtree at 9:27 AM on January 24, 2012


One common strategy for thinking about this is to suggest that what we used to call the whole universe is just a small part of everything there is, and that we live in a kind of bubble universe, a small region of something much larger... The idea being that there are lots of these bubble universes, maybe an infinite number of bubble universes, all very different from one another.

These guys create an entirely new field of study - Philosophy of Cosmology - and this is what they come up with...Turtles all the way down???
posted by rocket88 at 9:29 AM on January 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


God ate a bean burrito the size of your head.
posted by stormpooper at 9:39 AM on January 24, 2012


Epistemology and the philosophy of mathematics have always fascinated me... at once more rigorous and more open than empiricism, and has big impacts on science and technology because it shores up the foundations of what we know and sets the limits on what we can know.

(My favorite philosophical tidbit to trot out when someone poo-poo's philosophy is Mathematical Fictionalism. All quantities, even simple numbers like "2" are fictional constructs that are entirely the product of the human mind's attempt to keep track of things around it, and not inherent in the universe. They go so far as to offer mathematical proofs without numbers, substituting descriptive language instead. It's mindbending to read. There are apparently some inconsistencies in second-order logical constructs proving the concept... whether it's because Fictionalism is false, or because we just haven't figured out the right way to properly describe it yet, is up for debate.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:42 AM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


So, yes, just because it's philosophy doesn't mean there isn't going to be any math.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:47 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


and this is what they come up with...Turtles all the way down???

Well, I don't think that's actually very accurate, and you didn't actually quote the end of the paragraph. The point about this way of thinking is that it is a way of applying the anthropic principle to explain the, on the face of it, remarkable fact of the universe's existence. This is not done in a manner analogous to the "turtles all the way down" account, but rather by positing that instead of everything being comprised of one remarkable thing (our universe), most of everything is comprised of unremarkable things (other universes), and further that it is unremarkable that we experience our remarkable universe, as it being what it is is a precondition for our experiencing anything at all.

Even if you don't agree with this, comparing it to an ad hoc article of faith is kind of silly and pointlessly dismissive. The other reason it's not particularly helpful is that this is someone giving an interview to a popular publication, one that is is presumably intended to engage a broad range of people with the kinds of questions that are involved in the field of study. I presume you don't read interviews with mathematicians and scoff that they don't quote any formulae.
posted by howfar at 9:48 AM on January 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Turtles all the way down is an ad-hoc article of faith? seriously?

I think the commenters so far have been arguing at cross-purposes..
posted by Chuckles at 9:59 AM on January 24, 2012


This guy isn't half bad...
ll make one comment about these kinds of arguments which seems to me to somehow have eluded everyone. When people make these probabilistic equations, like the Drake Equation, which you're familiar with -- they introduce variables for the frequency of earth-like planets, for the evolution of life on those planets, and so on. The question remains as to how often, after life evolves, you'll have intelligent life capable of making technology. What people haven't seemed to notice is that on earth, of all the billions of species that have evolved, only one has developed intelligence to the level of producing technology. Which means that kind of intelligence is really not very useful. It's not actually, in the general case, of much evolutionary value. We tend to think, because we love to think of ourselves, human beings, as the top of the evolutionary ladder, that the intelligence we have, that makes us human beings, is the thing that all of evolution is striving toward. But what we know is that that's not true. Obviously it doesn't matter that much if you're a beetle, that you be really smart. If it were, evolution would have produced much more intelligent beetles. We have no empirical data to suggest that there's a high probability that evolution on another planet would lead to technological intelligence. There is just too much we don't know.
posted by Chuckles at 10:27 AM on January 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


"...but rather by positing that instead of everything being comprised of one remarkable thing (our universe), most of everything is comprised of unremarkable things (other universes), and further that it is unremarkable that we experience our remarkable universe, as it being what it is is a precondition for our experiencing anything at all."

And he also says that physicists come up with the concept of multiple universes as a logical consequence of physical law. They're not trying to disprove God or anything like that (ie: multiple universes vs. a fine tuner), it's just that doing the math suggests the possibility of many different universes, and the anthropic principle is a logical extension of that idea.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:28 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I took a grad course on relativity with Maudlin. He is hands-down one of the best lecturers I've ever had.
posted by painquale at 10:34 AM on January 24, 2012


And, yeah, he makes a good point about the Fermi Paradox. If the history of life on Earth is any way typical (not necessarily a safe assumption, but we don't have anything else to go on) then there's probably a whole lot of alien bacteria and virus analogs, a fair amount of alien algae, and some multicellular life - most of it insectoid. Planets with sentient life would be pretty rare, and most of them would have the equivalent of alien dolphins and apes, creatures so well adapted to their environments they don't need technology or science.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:35 AM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


What people haven't seemed to notice is that on earth, of all the billions of species that have evolved, only one has developed intelligence to the level of producing technology. Which means that kind of intelligence is really not very useful. It's not actually, in the general case, of much evolutionary value.

How do you measure the value of an evolved feature? It sure isn't by measuring how many species have it. It's by measuring how well individuals with that feature do. And we are doing pretty well, in the strict numerical sense of wiping out everything else, i.e. out-reproducing them. (Which isn't that great in the long-term, but evolution doesn't do long term.)
posted by DU at 11:10 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Isn't the "philosophy of cosmology" just theoretical physics without the math? I.e., fucking around?

Based on the inteview, that's my impression, too. They aren't addressing anything that theoretical physicists aren't already thinking about in a very in-depth way.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:29 AM on January 24, 2012


Well, it's a pop interview. Pop interviews with theoretical physicists also sound fairly superficial.

In the class I took with him, Maudlin referred to traditional philosophy as caveman science, so he's with you guys on this.
posted by painquale at 11:35 AM on January 24, 2012


...that I'll read something that breaks my brain permanently.

Why read anything that doesn't?
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:38 AM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


The question remains as to how often, after life evolves, you'll have intelligent life capable of making technology. What people haven't seemed to notice is that on earth, of all the billions of species that have evolved, only one has developed intelligence to the level of producing technology. Which means that kind of intelligence is really not very useful. It's not actually, in the general case, of much evolutionary value.

Wow. This blew my mind and got ME thinking in a completely different way. I mean, it's obvious, it makes perfect sense, but I never really thought about how intelligence factors into the big picture.

I was (yes, really) just talking with my husband and son recently about evolution, after seeing a really fascinating program called, What Darwin Never Knew, about genome mapping (and how a human has fewer genes than an ear of corn) and how genes relate to evolution. It went into detail about how, within the 98% of DNA that *doesn't* code for proteins, an area that is still largely a mystery to us as to its function, we now know there are genetic "switches" that turn genes on and off.

And the "boss" gene, that tells that switch when to go from off to on, is coded right into our embryos.

Take two birds, both finches. They both live in the Galapagos Isles. The finch on one island, where the main food source is seeds, has a short beak. But over on the other island, there's nuts instead. And that finch has a long, pointy beak just right for cracking nuts open. Genetically, the finches are the same. The only difference is when the boss gene tells the switch to throw the "beak gene" (for lack of a better name) on and off in each one.

It blows me away that the ability to evolve is built into our genes from day one. Hox genes (which are "in all complex animals, from the velvet worm that dates back some 600 million years, to the modern human") from fish known to have descended from what we believe was the first creature to climb out of the ocean onto land have been compared to those in humans. The genes that grew flippers in those fish matched the ones that made arms and legs in us. So now we know that we really do descend from fish.

And we know that humans don't need a lot of genes to adapt (take that, ear of corn!), because you don't necessarily have to develop new genes to evolve. You've just got to get the old genes to adjust their timing a little.

Which is my roundabout way of getting to this point: Humans may actually be slowing down our own physical evolutionary progress as our intelligence leads us to develop technological advances. Instead of our genes repurposing and physically adapting us to suit our environment, we now have the ability to just change our environment to suit us.

Which seems like a great thing to be able to accomplish, but our scientific curiosity may actually be a hindrance to our progression as a species. Huh.

Isn't science COOL?
posted by misha at 11:39 AM on January 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Misha, you probably know this, but there's no "progression" involved in evolution. It's a process that lets life adapt to its current environment. Also, while we may not evolve wings because we can build airplanes, we may be becoming more intelligent since there's selective pressure in our environment favoring those who are smarter. Or Idiocracy could be right, I don't know.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 11:49 AM on January 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Humans may actually be slowing down our own physical evolutionary progress as our intelligence leads us to develop technological advances. Instead of our genes repurposing and physically adapting us to suit our environment, we now have the ability to just change our environment to suit us.

In The Extended Phenotype, Dawkins points out that snail shells and beaver dams are presumably under some genetic control. It isn't just the bodies, it's also the behaviors. And humans are animals (and the brain is a biological organ). So these technological advances ARE evolutionary progress, not slowing it down.
posted by DU at 11:50 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


DU: How do you measure the value of an evolved feature? It sure isn't by measuring how many species have it.

It is if that's how one defines the "goodness criterion".

It's by measuring how well individuals with that feature do.

You've just made the same assumption "error" that you accuse Maudlin of.

And we are doing pretty well, in the strict numerical sense of wiping out everything else, i.e. out-reproducing them. (Which isn't that great in the long-term, but evolution doesn't do long term.)

We aren't significantly wiping out many species on earth. Fungi, Protista, Archaea and Bacteria have barely noticed us, in fact.

In fact, I accuse your criterion of being both arbitrary (of course) and poorly defined. Maudlin's is only one of those. (A possibly better version of your criterion might be: "tending to increase in total population", not "out-reproducing".)
posted by IAmBroom at 12:09 PM on January 24, 2012


In The Extended Phenotype, Dawkins points out that snail shells and beaver dams are presumably under some genetic control. It isn't just the bodies, it's also the behaviors. And humans are animals (and the brain is a biological organ). So these technological advances ARE evolutionary progress, not slowing it down.

I'm sorry, that's just not a sensible comparison. There is no reason to suspect that my children, were they put in a time machine and raised from birth by prehistoric humans, would have any greater aptitude to technological progress than their step-siblings. If we brought some prehistoric children into the modern day, they would grow up as modern children. The cub of a beaver ancestor from a time before the lineage evolved dam building, brought forward in time and raised by modern beavers would be at a huge, if not absolute, disadvantage in learning to dam build.

Human technology is qualitative different from the sort of behavioural adaptation that leads beavers to build dams.
posted by howfar at 12:28 PM on January 24, 2012


On the other hand, useful features evolve independently, multiple times. Animals evolved the eye independently something like 50 times, with the only common precursor being a few pigment genes.

On the gripping hand, the flower only evolved once, and it's a massively useful innovation.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:31 PM on January 24, 2012


You've just made the same assumption "error" that you accuse Maudlin of.

It's certainly a much more natural figure of merit given how evolution works, which is not at the species level.

A possibly better version of your criterion might be: "tending to increase in total population", not "out-reproducing"

No, that's worse. An increase in population is only meaningfully "good" if you do it at the expense of someone else who needed those same resources. If someone were to duplicate the entire Earth, including everything living on it, would everyone's evolutionary merit suddenly double? No, that's ridiculous. And if it did, it would normalize back to the current numbers, which is exactly what I said: it's relative to other species.

There is no reason to suspect that my children, were they put in a time machine and raised from birth by prehistoric humans, would have any greater aptitude to technological progress than their step-siblings.

Never said they would. Prehistoric humans are the same species as modern humans.
posted by DU at 2:14 PM on January 24, 2012


So these technological advances ARE evolutionary progress, not slowing it down....Never said they would. Prehistoric humans are the same species as modern humans.

So in what way are the technological adaptations evolutionary progress? They are phenotypic expressions of genotype, which is not the same thing at all. What you said is like claiming that every dam a beaver builds is evolutionary progress.
posted by howfar at 2:51 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was surprised by his response to the "fine tuning" idea. One might point out that evolved life forms on earth have, by definition, adapted to function in the conditions that attain. There's no proof that life wouldn't have evolved under different physical/chemical/cosmological circumstances. The question necessarily entails looking at the etiology of biological life completely backward. It's not unlike marveling at the fact that fish have gills -- so coincidentally perfect for underwater living!
posted by clockzero at 3:29 PM on January 24, 2012


This discussion of a 'philosophy of cosmology' is kind of amusing to me - up until the last few decades, cosmology was primarily a subfield of philosophy, not (astro)physics.

There are still philosophical underpinnings even for modern, quantitative cosmology. Almost all theories start from a few basic assumptions that basically boil down to requiring that we should not live in a special place in the Universe: averaged over large enough scales, the amounts and sort of stuff we see locally should be similar to what astronomers anywhere else would see, and what we observe in any one direction should, on average, match what is seen in any other.

Those assumptions lead to a variety of conclusions (e.g. that the Universe should have no center and no edge), and are built into our cosmological models in various ways. We do test these basic tenets to the degree we can, but it's very difficult to tell what the Universe is like beyond the parts we can see...
posted by janewman at 3:41 PM on January 24, 2012


Which is my roundabout way of getting to this point: Humans may actually be slowing down our own physical evolutionary progress as our intelligence leads us to develop technological advances. Instead of our genes repurposing and physically adapting us to suit our environment, we now have the ability to just change our environment to suit us.

Good comment, but I disagree with this point. In the near future humans will have the ability to purposefully direct our own evolution. At advanced levels of control of our dna we will actually be able to change ourselves to suit the environment. That seems like a pretty big thing to me.

Also Maudlin's comment that human like intelligence has only emerged once from evolutionary processes is just plain misinformed. We have archaeological evidence of several different hominids developing stone tool technology. Granted the leap from taking a few flakes off a riverine cobblestone to agriculture was a long and often uneventful journey, but the very fact that they were making stone tools by reductive technique illustrates, at least to me, that human like intelligence is not a singular phenomenon. Unfortunately, the paleontological/archaeological record is horribly fragmentary so it's not really clear which hominid was using which tools. For example, around 1.8 million years ago there were 5 different Hominidae species running around Africa, all of them potential tool users.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:05 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's no proof that life wouldn't have evolved under different physical/chemical/cosmological circumstances

Well, life itself didn't evolve, it (the process of adaptive self-replication or some such) emerged, and all the evidence we have indicates this emergence to be an extremely unlikely phenomenon, even with the physics we have. The vast majority of possible other configurations of physics would not generate conditions capable of giving rise to anything recognisably like life as we know it. This "as we know it" is important, because the question is not whether there might have been something that there isn't (so vague as to be uninteresting, I think), but rather whether we should be surprised as the existence of what there is. The chance of us or something like us existing appears vanishingly small, which suggests (strongly, but only suggests) either that there is something wrong with our assessment of that probability, or that there were many more chances for it to occur than we suspected.

It's not unlike marveling at the fact that fish have gills -- so coincidentally perfect for underwater living!

It's really very different. There is an observable mechanism by which a particular form of life can, once it exists, adapt itself to circumstances. The is no way we know of, save the invocation of a designer, that allows for the universe to become similarly adapted to the possibility of life.
posted by howfar at 4:08 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


> There is no reason to suspect that my children, were they put in a time machine and raised from birth by prehistoric humans, would have any greater aptitude to technological progress than their step-siblings.

It all depends on how picky you are about the word "human". Our ancestors existed for over a million years with only crude stone tools. The time span for perceptible innovation was greater than what we call history.

Was shaping stone for them as instinctual as beavers building dams?

In any case, I doubt your children are that stupid.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 9:32 PM on January 24, 2012


Our ancestors existed for over a million years with only crude stone tools.

Indeed, but even if that is because they were all too stupid to develop smelting, spaceships and Pop-Tarts, DU's apparent assertion doesn't follow. It does not follow from the fact that my ancestors lacked the capability to make any given technology and that their descendants developed that capability that the development of said technology is an evolutionary adaptation. Developing that technology is, as I've said (and I'm sure Dawkins meant), phenotypic, that is to say it is an expression of genetic evolution, not an example of it. Of course phenotype affects genetic evolution, but that is the premise we started with when it was suggested that it might inhibit it.
posted by howfar at 10:19 AM on January 25, 2012


AElfwine Evenstar": ...Granted the leap from taking a few flakes off a riverine cobblestone to agriculture was a long and often uneventful journey, but the very fact that they were making stone tools by reductive technique illustrates, at least to me, that human like intelligence is not a singular phenomenon. Unfortunately, the paleontological/archaeological record is horribly fragmentary so it's not really clear which hominid was using which tools. For example, around 1.8 million years ago there were 5 different Hominidae species running around Africa, all of them potential tool users."

But that sort of illustrates his point. The various tool using hominids were all related, coming from a common ancestor in one specific place and time, they're almost like variations on a single theme. Tool making, environment modifying intelligence hasn't evolved over and over in different classes and kingdoms, with sentient birds, bugs, lizards, fish and squid each taking a turn as masters of the Earth. (At least, not outside of Lovecraft stories...)
posted by Kevin Street at 11:28 PM on January 25, 2012


howfar: The cub of a beaver ancestor from a time before the lineage evolved dam building, brought forward in time and raised by modern beavers would be at a huge, if not absolute, disadvantage in learning to dam build.

Citation?

Human technology is qualitative different from the sort of behavioural adaptation that leads beavers to build dams.

Citation?

You cannot simply state hypotheses as proven facts. Those days of biological "sciences" are over.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:44 PM on January 26, 2012


Citation? (the first)

Are you saying I need to support with citation the idea that beavers are adapted to learn to build dams better than animals that never build dams? If you've got any evidence that they aren't, I'd be fascinated to see it. I don't need to cite the obvious, this isn't Wikipedia.

Citation? (the second)

The purposive, creative and conceptual elements of human technology do not exist among beavers. This is not an extraordinary claim. The burden of proof to show that beaver dams are designed, considered and refined in a manner comparable to human technology would be on those who maintained it. Do you maintain it?

To say this is not to suggest that beavers are automata, but rather than the mode and application of their intelligence is different in a qualitative manner. In order for beavers to make the leap from the building they currently have to a technological mode of building, a qualitative genetic change would be needed. A beaver that could make and use a shovel (for example) would be genetically different to any beaver that currently exists in a qualitative way, in a way in which I am not genetically different to a Cro-Magnon man.

But anyway, that wasn't the point of the argument, simply that phenotype and genotype are different things, and (since I've had the chance to look it up I see my guess was correct) that Dawkins was not arguing that technological development is evolutionary development, but that it is a phenotypic expression of its genetic consequences, in the same way that beaver dam building is an expression of their genes. So your cavilling is more than slightly beside the point.

I suggest stopping to think before you put your "SCIENCE!!!" hat on
posted by howfar at 5:52 PM on January 26, 2012


Are you saying I need to support with citation the idea that beavers are adapted to learn to build dams better than animals that never build dams? If you've got any evidence that they aren't, I'd be fascinated to see it. I don't need to cite the obvious, this isn't Wikipedia.

No, I'm saying you need to support your assertion that the immediate ancestors of beavers couldn't learn to build dams; i.e., that a crucial genetic switch was thrown that separates dam-building beavers from non-dam-building proto-beavers.

Then you continue to make assertions as fact, and add insults. Yay for you. You still aren't getting the point that no matter how obvious your claims appear to you, they aren't proven until they're supported by real evidence. Your opinion, and even the opinion of many others, or most others, isn't enough.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:56 AM on January 27, 2012


No, I'm saying you need to support your assertion that the immediate ancestors of beavers couldn't learn to build dams; i.e., that a crucial genetic switch was thrown that separates dam-building beavers from non-dam-building proto-beavers.

I never asserted it and it wouldn't be relevant even if I had. Asking me if that was that I meant would have saved me 15 minutes responding to you. The question of animal intelligence as extended phenotype is vastly more complex that. But as it's not your job to grade my understanding of evolutionary biology, I can't image why you'd care about my belief (or lack thereof) in a question that was irrelevant to the point at hand. This is a discussion, not an encyclopaedia. Wandering around flagging things up as needing citation is like asking people to show their degree certificates at a cocktail party.

Your opinion, and even the opinion of many others, or most others, isn't enough.


Enough for what? My opinion isn't enough for me to state in conversation? What are you wittering on about?
posted by howfar at 7:29 PM on January 27, 2012


« Older 5 things I learned today: five interesting links p...  |  Pictures are making the rounds... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments