10:15-10:35    David DeGraff    Using Aliens to Teach Evolution

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10:22:38 From Andrew Kennedy to Everyone : really like this approach

 

10:23:58 From Kelly Smith to Everyone : For those who are not familiar with the group, CONTACT out in California used to do this for every conference.  They would have a group design an alien, then model first contact with them using opposing teams, one human, one alien.  They have dropped the aline design of late, but still do the first contact sim

 

10:24:23 From Carlos Mariscal to Everyone : David, could you share your syllabuses with us?

 

10:24:37 From Kelly Smith to Everyone : David: send them to me and I can post with the other materials 

 

10:28:31 From Kelly Smith to Everyone : I know there are limits to students ability (and time) but this strikes me as a bit morphologically biased.  I would be tempted to work them through this in stages, first requiring them to determine an energy source, for example, then requiring them to paint an evolutionary trajectory without specifying the end form.  Of course, that would be a BIG project and cause much anxiety…:) 

 

10:29:50 From Eric Hughes to Everyone : @Kelly: Better to work  from the concrete first and the more abstract second. 10:31:25 From Kelly Smith to Everyone : Sorry - my dog is not a fan of the delivery guy at all...

 

10:32:44 From Robert.Kennedy to Everyone : primates and vitamin C synthesis

 

10:32:47 From Julia DeMarines to Everyone : What a great activity.

 

10:32:47 From Carlos Mariscal to Everyone : Or have them think functionally some how? Alien morphology shouldn’t be about being weird, but about adaptation to alien environments (+ some non-adaptive stuff, too)

 

10:33:03 From Daniela de Paulis to Everyone : thinking of the concept of cultural evolution

 

10:33:09 From Linda Billings to Everyone : David, I find it fascinating that you have students who can grasp the concept of extraterrestrial life evolving but not terrestrial life. Thanks for doing what you do!

 

10:33:47 From Robert.Kennedy to Everyone : good question

 

10:34:30 From William Alba to Everyone : I'm wondering whether you have extended the assignments beyond astrobiology at the organism level -- to the ecosystem / biosphere level (e.g., Dune).

 

10:34:54 From Joe Gottlieb to Everyone : @ Linda - It is a surprising finding, IMO. It is not as if the concept EVOLVE or EVOLUTION excludes certain locations. 

 

10:34:56 From Nick Nielsen to Everyone : @Alba that would be a great exercise

 

10:35:02 From William Alba to Everyone : ... as well as to the chemical level

 

10:35:41 From William Alba to Everyone : Ah, he's talking about the ecosystem now

 

10:35:52 From Ted Peters to Everyone : I do not believe such a thing as Cultural Evolution exists. If evolution in biology is defined by the mechanisms of variation in inheritance acted on by natural selection, then no such pattern can be discerned in culture. Cultures have histories. They do not evolve. I suspect that the concept of cultural evolution has been introduced to establish hegemony, an academic power play by biologists over against the humanities.

 

10:35:58 From Robert.Kennedy to Everyone : in the Tnuctipun language, they called aliens "food that talks"

 

10:36:05 From Carlos Mariscal to Everyone : What if they all worked together? All of their creatures all had to co-exist somewhere, somehow. Maybe some would work on ecosystems or other aspects? 

 

10:36:20 From Kelly Smith to Everyone : @ Ted nonsense, dude!

 

10:36:59 From Kelly Smith to Everyone : @ Carlos - nice touch!  I was thinking about doing this as an entire class exercise, with teams: team chemistry, team ecology, etc.

 

10:37:13 From Nick Nielsen to Everyone : There is a large literature on culture evolution, starting with Tylor and Morgan, who were mentioned earlier

 

10:37:27 From John Malloy to Everyone : @William and @Carlos, this would be a great addition to a complex systems science course. I can see this being a good activity for teaching the interconnectedness of large systems

 

10:37:33 From Lucas Mix to Everyone : @ Ted and Kelly, I think societies do very and do have differential survival. I don't think they develop, unfold into a mature form.

 

10:37:37 From kdenning@yorku.ca to Everyone : Ted, echoing Nick: for whatever this is worth: the usual version of the history of the concept of cultural evolution is that it emerged at about the same time as the idea of biological evolution, and it did come from social theorists / early anthropologists etc. 

 

10:37:37 From Nick Nielsen to Everyone : Boas made it unspeakable for a time, and then it came back again, largely through Elman and Service 10:37:42 From Eric Hughes to Everyone : @William Alba, re: chemical level. See _The Natural Evolution of the Chemical Elements_ by Williams and Frausto da Silva

 

10:38:49 From Dan Capper to Everyone : Spencer in the 19th century established the notion of cultural evolution from the standpoint of sociology.

 

10:38:58 From Kelly Smith to Everyone : I hate the delivery man, therefore I am?

10:39:10 From Carlos Mariscal to Everyone : If anybody work David or Erik’s approaches into their syllabuses, please send them around

 

10:39:14 From Nick Nielsen to Everyone : Spencer stood outside the mainstream of the development of the idea. 

 

10:39:21 From Jim Schwartz to Everyone : But can your dog *ask questions* of the UPS man?

 

10:39:50 From Kelly Smith to Everyone : Do you want to be bitten?

 

10:39:56 From Dan Capper to Everyone : @ Nick, how was Spencer outside of the mainstream?

 

10:40:31 From Nick Nielsen to Everyone : Largely it starts with Tylor and Morgan, then Boas and his students, and then the reaction against Boas

10:41:54 From Nick Nielsen to Everyone : Maybe so, but Boas doesn't have much to say about Spencer

 

10:41:33 From Nick Nielsen to Everyone : Although Spencer himself drew heavily on contemporary science

 

10:41:33 From Dan Capper to Everyone : Spencer preceded Boas.  Boas responded to Spencer.

 

10:42:27 From Nick Nielsen to Everyone : Boas is anthropology, and anthropology is much more central to him than social theory

 

10:59:11 From John Traphagan to Everyone : The conversation drifted away, but my understanding of what Boas was doing in anthropology with the concept of cultural relativism is a response to approaches like Spencer's.

 

11:00:37 From Nathalie Gontier to Everyone : @ John, yes it was, Boas was against ideas of progress and directionality in cultural evolution 11:01:32 From Nathalie Gontier to Everyone : @ Carlos, thanks for sharing!

 

11:04:31 From John Traphagan to Everyone : Boas was very data-focused, rather than theory-focused.  IT's interesting that he was actually trained in physics, if I remember right from grad school eons ago.  I do remember that he argued we need to collect data before we start theorizing about human social organization.  It's an interesting perspective in relation to astrobiology and thinking about life/ civilization on other worlds.