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Beavers as designers (are they intelligent?)

A Beaver Dam

Beaver dams are amazing objects in our natural environment, being shaped from piles of felled trees and stones arranged to block streams and create ponds that protect these busy rodents [easily up to 50 - 60 lbs, over 100 lbs on record] from predators, allow them to build their lodges,  and provide watery highways for them to move about as they do their business. The dams range up to nearly 3,000 feet [a bit under 1 km] in length, and up to 7 ft [2+ m] at base and 14 ft [nearly 5 m] in height. Consequently, the beavers are keystone creatures, affecting the water table, providing handy bridges used by many animals, reducing the tendency of streams to flood, providing refuges for trout and young salmon, and eventually creating characteristic meadows as the ponds silt up.

A Beaver (sitting on its paddle-tail)

This raises a significant question: are beavers designers? (The answer seems obvious: yes.)

Like unto it: are they intelligent?

Thence, what does this imply for other designers, human and otherwise?

These three questions are actually deeply significant, and the answers they lead to are a reason to thank Ms Molch for her questionSo, beaver dams have FSCI?

Let’s address this question first.

Beaver dams, of course, do not have in them digitally coded symbol strings or the like. However, as specific, functional structures they exhibit functionally specific, complex organisation.  So, we can reduce such a dam to a nodes and arcs representation that does have functionally specific, complex information, which is FSCI.  That brings up the first point of significance, i.e. an object that is shaped to be functionally specific, and is sufficiently complex implies FSCI. (BTW: It can be argued that DNA is a string structure with functionally specific elements that manifest a four-state per element structure that is or directly implies a code. [Added in response to News, here: The beaver's genome plainly has in it a program that gives dam building instructions and associated knowledge.  FSCI, which plainly does not trace to us humans. How that comes about and how it gets coded into the beaver's brain and CNS, is unknown. Empirically substantiated explanations (above and beyond just-so stories) are welcome.])

And of course, to make dams (and for food), beavers also cut down trees, sometimes quite sizable trees:

A beaver-cut tree (appar., set up to fall in a controlled direction) Cr: BSG

But also, we need to consider a bit more on Beaver dams. For that, Wiki testifying against interest is a handy source:

An arched beaver dam (with a second one downstream)

A beaver shapes a dam according to the strength of the water’s current. Relatively still water encourages dams that are almost straight; while dams in stronger currents are curved, bowed toward upstream. The beavers use driftwood, green willows, birch and poplars; and they mix in mud and stones that contribute to the dam’s strength. When some of the sticks used in the dam “truncheon” (start to grow) the tangled roots contribute more strength to the dam.

Beavers are known to build very large dams.[1] The largest known was discovered by satellite imagery in Northern Alberta, in 2007, approximately 2,790 ft (850 m) long,[2] beating the previous record holder found near Three Forks, Montana, at 2,140 ft (650 m) long, 14 ft (4.3 m) high, and 23 ft (7.0 m) thick at the base.[3] . . . . studies involving beaver habitual activities have indicated that beavers may respond to an array of stimuli (such as seeing water movement), not just the sound of running water. In two experiments Wilson[6] and Richard (1967, 1980)[Full citation needed] demonstrate that, although beavers will pile material close to a loudspeaker emitting sounds of water running, they only do so after a considerable period of time. Additionally the beavers, when faced with a pipe allowing water to pass through their dam, eventually stopped the flow of water by plugging the pipe with mud and sticks. The beavers were observed to do this even when the pipe extended several meters upstream and near the bottom of the stream and thus produced no sound of running water. Beavers normally repair damage to the dam and build it higher as long as the sound continues. However, in times of high water, they often allow spillways in the dam to flow freely . . . .

A beaver dam has a certain amount of freeboard above the water level. When heavy rains occur, the pond fills up and the dam gradually releases the extra stored water. Often this is all that is necessary to reduce the height of the flood wave moving down the river, and will reduce or eliminate damage to human structures. Flood control is achieved in other ways as well. The surface of any stream intersects the surrounding water table. By raising the stream level, the gradient of the surface of the water table above the beaver dam is reduced, and water near the beaver dam flows more slowly into the stream. This further helps in reducing flood waves, and increases water flow when there is no rain. Beaver dams also smooth out water flow by increasing the area wetted by the stream. This allows more water to seep into the ground where its flow is slowed. This water eventually finds its way back to the stream. Rivers with beaver dams in their head waters have lower high water and higher low water levels.

Another source adds:

Beavers start construction by diverting the stream to lessen the water’s flow pressure. Branches and logs are then driven into the mud of the stream bed to form a base. Then sticks, bark (from deciduous trees), rocks, mud, grass, leaves, masses of plants, and anything else available, is used to build the superstructure. [48] [49]  [50]

. . . . Spillways and passageways are built into the dam to allow excess water to drain off without damaging it. [52] Dams are generally built wider at the base, and the top is usually tilted upstream to resist the force of the current. [53] Trees approaching the diameter of 3 ft. (.9 m) may be used, but the average size used to construct a dam is 4 to 12 in. (10 to 30 cm). [54]  [55] The length will depend upon the diameter of the tree and the size of the beaver. A beaver can transport his own weight in material, and will drag the logs along mudslides and float them through canals to get them in place. [56]  [57] There are recorded cases of beavers felling logs of as much as 150 ft. (45 m) tall and 5 ft. (115 cm) in diameter. [58] Logs of this size are not intended to be used as structural members, but rather the bark is used for food, and sometimes to get at upper branches. [59]  [60]

That is, beaver dams are shaped as arch dams or gravity dams depending on the Beavers’ perception of the stream flow rate. The dams include spillways and tunnels, and require considerable activities to transport components.

The dams are therefore not only obviously quite functional but site-specific, and the structure is varied according to the needs and challenges of the particular site. And to create and sustain such a structure on relevant scales from (mostly small) trees, stones and mud-piles, is clearly going to exceed the 500 bit threshold that is the practical limit for identifying a case of FSCI.

In addition various observers note that the beavers sometimes seem to scout the dam sites beforehand, that some of them seem to know how to fell trees to fall in desired direction [others do not], that they often signal a warning to their fellows when a tree is about to fall, and that they seem to respond to breakthroughs, leaks and over-topping under flood conditions on a case by case, usually sensible basis. (They are not simply programmed to blindly pile up branches etc in response to the sound of flowing water.)

Altogether, a Beaver colony comes across as a rather impressive team of living mini-bulldozers and builders!

All of this points to intelligence, as we can define through the UD Glossary (which is derived from Wiki testifying against interest):

“capacities to reason, to plan, to solve problems, to think abstractly, to comprehend ideas, to use language, and to learn.”

Beavers — albeit limited — are clearly creatively solving problems and are implementing site-specific plans that solve problems.

They thus seem to exhibit a certain limited degree of intelligence; arguably, they are self-moved and problem solving creatures that work in teams to build significant, functionally specific, complex objects.

{In a later thread, SA2 made some quite significant remarks that highlight the challenges to evolutionary theorising that the beaver poses, well worth inserting at this point:

INSERT 1:  >>Not only do you have to have to explain a developmental pathway for the evolution of a beaver, but also the developmental pathway for the evolution of the dam. The beavers must experience genetic variations that slightly alter their dam-building methods in ways that improve the dams in ways that result in differential reproduction for the beavers that built them. The dams themselves become subjects of trial-and-error experiments, all carried out by unreasoning creatures that started out with no intent to build a dam or the capacity to imagine one or the benefits of having one.

That’s really steep.

But beavers build dams in groups, so the individual beaver that varies in a manner that innovates some improvement in the dam-building process actually benefits all the beavers in the group equally, not just itself, making it problematic for its own variation to outreproduce others.

How might this have begun? Once upon a time did a beaver develop a mutation that caused it randomly chuck a log into a stream, which somehow resulted in differential reproduction? How far must we veer off the path of science to even imagine such scenarios? I don’t think anyone even has imagined them, and I’d be extremely impressed by even that.>>

INSERT 2: >> I would recommend that anyone who imagines such things evolving learn software development and robotics and build the simplest possible dam-building machine that can analyze its working space, gather materials, and construct a dam. Forget all the hard stuff like reproduction, metabolism, etc.

Now take the information content of the software alone – forget the content required to assemble the machine itself – and there’s a rough idea of how much information is required for beavers to build dams.

Having done so, I would like to see whether that person could still imagine an evolutionary pathway to a similar result.>>

These are significant challenges indeed, and show why the beaver deserves to go on the growing list of credible cases of intelligent design in nature.}

Once that is seriously on the table — and there are other similar cases in the animal kingdom, including especially Dolphins cooperating with human fishermen to share a joint harvest on a regular basis — the sort of “circular argument” objection Dr BOT made in the same thread (as has been repeatedly pointed out for quite some time)  is off the table. Namely:

we can certainly infer that human like intelligence could be found elsewhere in the universe, but we don’t know it for certain so based on what we DO know, humans are the only observed source of FSCI.

You cite the example of FSCI in biology and the universe in general as an evidence of another intelligence that can make FSCI, whilst arguing that the FSCI in biology and the universe must have come from intelligence because we observe humans producing it.

Around and around we go

Not at all.

There plainly are other cases of FSCO/I that point to non-human intelligent designers, albeit these are of limited [non-verbal] forms.

Where this gets interesting is when we bring to bear the Eng Derek Smith Cybernetic Model of an intelligent, environment-manipulating entity:

The Eng Derek Smith Cybernetic Model

In this model, an autonomous entity interacts with the environment through a sensor suite and through an effector array, with associated proprioception of internal state that allows it to orient itself in its environment, and act towards goals.  The key feature is the two-tier control process, with Level I being an in-the-loop Input/Output [I/O] controller.

But, the Level II controller is different.

While it interacts with the loop indeed, it is supervisory for the loop.

That allows for projection of planned alternatives, decision, reflection on success/failure, adaptation, and more.

That is not all, it opens the door to different control implementations, on different “technologies.”

For instance, it could be a software entity, with programmed loops that allow an envisioned degree of adaptation to circumstances as it navigates and tacks towards impressed goals. That sort of limited autonomy could indeed be simply hard wired or even uploaded as an operating system for a robot or a limited designer.

But there is another alternative that is now also on the table. True autonomy as a self-moved first (initiating) cause.

For instance, what if the human mind/soul is supervising the brain-body loop by influencing the quantum mechanical pathways embedded in the neural networks in the brain and CNS neural networks? As Scott Calef therefore observes:

Keith Campbell writes, “The indeterminacy of quantum laws means that any one of a range of outcomes of atomic events in the brain is equally compatible with known physical laws. And differences on the quantum scale can accumulate into very great differences in overall brain condition. So there is some room for spiritual activity even within the limits set by physical law. There could be, without violation of physical law, a general spiritual constraint upon what occurs inside the head.” (p.54). Mind could act upon physical processes by “affecting their course but not breaking in upon them.” (p.54). If this is true, the dualist could maintain the conservation principle but deny a fluctuation in energy because the mind serves to “guide” or control neural events by choosing one set of quantum outcomes rather than another. Further, it should be remembered that the conservation of energy is designed around material interaction; it is mute on how mind might interact with matter. After all, a Cartesian rationalist might insist, if God exists we surely wouldn’t say that He couldn’t do miracles just because that would violate the first law of thermodynamics, would we? [Article, "Dualism and Mind," Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.]

So, different architectures and implementations for such an autonomous designing and creative, goal directed entity are possible. One key difference being in the sources of the goals, and the freedom of choice concerning goals.

And that brings us into the issue of the difference between beavers, autonomous robots or software entities in a game world and men.

Beavers are “instinctual” entities, i.e. they don’t seem to be able to choose a different path in life other than being a part of a dam-building team. Worker bees do not overthrow their queen. Mars Rovers don’t declare independence and set up a robot republic on Mars.  Humans can, and do.

And so that brings up front and center, the challenge that humans seem to be able to think and choose for themselves, with moral responsibility. Worse, it is seriously arguable that worldviews — even those dressed up in that holy lab coat — that reduce humans to programmed entities driven by forces of nature and nurture, end in self-referential absurdity. For instance, we can make the case that: it is at least arguable that self-referential absurdity is the dagger pointing to the heart of evolutionary materialistic models of mind and its origin. This can be addressed at a more sophisticated level [[cf. Hasker in The Emergent Self (Cornell University Press, 2001), from p 64 on, e.g. here], but without losing its general force, it can also be drawn out a bit in a fairly simple way:

a: Evolutionary materialism argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature; from hydrogen to humans by undirected chance and necessity.

b: Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws of chance and/or mechanical necessity acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of happenstance initial circumstances.

(This is physicalism. This view covers both the forms where (a) the mind and the brain are seen as one and the same thing, and those where (b) somehow mind emerges from and/or “supervenes” on brain, perhaps as a result of sophisticated and complex software looping. The key point, though is as already noted: physical causal closure — the phenomena that play out across time, without residue, are in principle deducible or at least explainable up to various random statistical distributions and/or mechanical laws, from prior physical states. [[There is also some evidence from simulation exercises, that accuracy of even sensory perceptions may lose out to utilitarian but inaccurate ones in an evolutionary competition. "It works" does not warrant the inference to "it is true."] )

c: But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this picture.  So, we rapidly arrive at Crick’s claim in his  The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994): what we subjectively experience as “thoughts,” “reasoning” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as the unintended by-products of the blind natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains. 

d: These forces are viewed as being ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance shaped by forces of selection [["nature"] and psycho-social conditioning [["nurture"], within the framework of human culture [[i.e. socio-cultural conditioning and resulting/associated relativism].

e: For instance, Marxists commonly derided opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismissed qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways?  Should we not ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is little more than yet another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze? And — as we saw above — would the writings of a Crick be any more than the firing of neurons in networks in his own brain?

f: For further instance,  we may take the favourite whipping-boy of materialists: religion.  Notoriously, they often hold that belief in God is not merely error, but delusion. But, if such a patent “delusion” is so utterly widespread, even among the highly educated, then it “must” — by the principles of evolution — somehow be adaptive to survival, whether in nature or in society. And so, this would be an illustration of the unreliability of our reasoning ability, on the assumption of evolutionary materialism.

g: Turning the materialist dismissal of theism around, evolutionary materialism itself would be in the same leaky boat. For, the sauce for the goose is notoriously just as good a sauce for the gander, too.

h:  That is, on its own premises [[and following Dawkins in A Devil's Chaplain, 2004, p. 46], the cause of the belief system of evolutionary materialism, “must” also be reducible to forces of blind chance and mechanical necessity that are sufficiently adaptive to spread this “meme” in populations of jumped- up apes from the savannahs of East Africa scrambling for survival in a Malthusian world of struggle for existence.

i: The famous evolutionary biologist J. B. S. Haldane made much the same point in a famous 1932 remark:

“It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.” [["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (Highlight and emphases added.)]

j: Therefore, though materialists will often try to pointedly ignore or angrily brush aside the issue, we may freely argue: if such evolutionary materialism is true, then (i) our consciousness, (ii) the “thoughts” we have, (iii) the beliefs we hold, (iv) the reasonings we attempt and (v) the “conclusions” we reach — without residue — must be produced and controlled by blind forces of chance happenstance and mechanical necessity that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or logical validity. 

(NB: The conclusions of such “arguments” may still happen to be true, by astonishingly lucky coincidence — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” or “warranted” them. It seems that rationality itself has thus been undermined fatally on evolutionary materialistic premises. Including that of Crick et al. Through, self-reference leading to incoherence and utter inability to provide a cogent explanation of our commonplace, first-person experience of reasoning and rational warrant for beliefs, conclusions and chosen paths of action. Reduction to absurdity and explanatory failure in short.)

k: And, if materialists then object: “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must immediately note that — as the fate of Newtonian Dynamics between 1880 and 1930 shows — empirical support is not equivalent to establishing the truth of a scientific theory. For, at any time, one newly discovered countering fact can in principle overturn the hitherto most reliable of theories. (And as well, we must not lose sight of this: one is relying on the legitimacy of the reasoning process to make the case that scientific evidence provides reasonable albeit provisional warrant for one’s beliefs etc. Scientific reasoning is not independent of reasoning.)

l: Worse, in the case of origins science theories, we simply were not there to directly observe the facts of the remote past, so origins sciences are even more strongly controlled by assumptions and inferences than are operational scientific theories. So, we contrast the way that direct observations of falling apples and orbiting planets allow us to test our theories of gravity.

m: Moreover, as Harvard biologist Richard Lewontin reminds us all in his infamous January 29, 1997 New York Review of Books article, “Billions and billions of demons,” it is now notorious that:

. . . It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel [[materialistic scientists] to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

n: Such a priori assumptions of materialism are patently question-begging, mind-closing and fallacious.

o: More important, to demonstrate that empirical tests provide empirical support to the materialists’ theories would require the use of the very process of reasoning and inference which they have discredited.

p: Thus, evolutionary materialism arguably reduces reason itself to the status of illusion.  But, as we have seen: immediately, that must include “Materialism.”

q: In the end, it is thus quite hard to escape the conclusion that materialism is based on self-defeating, question-begging logic.
r: So, while materialists — just like the rest of us — in practice routinely rely on the credibility of reasoning and despite all the confidence they may project, they at best struggle to warrant such a tacitly accepted credibility of mind relative to the core claims of their worldview. (And, sadly: too often, they tend to pointedly ignore or rhetorically brush aside the issue.)

So now, where does this leave our eager, hard working beavers? Bees, robots, and us? END

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38 Responses to Beavers as designers (are they intelligent?)

  1. Beavers like most animals have a seat of consciousness on the plane of ‘instinctive mind’ higher animals like domesticated ones are moving that seat of consciousness onto the plane of intelect . Building nests, and dams etc are instinctive actions.
    All creatures including us are moving that seat of conscoiusness upwards . it is well explained by a yogi philosophy which shows the true nature of consciousness.
    it is why people express a belief in the great spirit. it is not instinct, nor intelect – but radiates form a higher region of consciousness. how tat urge is expressed(or ignored) by the individual though, depends on where on that vast scale of consciouness we are present..

  2. Mazda

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    Also, welcome to UD, as I do not think I have seen a comment from you before. (Do you want to say a bit about yourself? Do feel free.)

    You are right to underscore the role of “Instinct,” though of course that term seems to more conceal our ignorance than to reveal how such animals can inherit the ability to carry out the sort of amazing feats as described.

    NWE is apt:

    Instinct is the inborn disposition of a living organism toward a particular behavior or pattern of behaviors, characteristic of the species, and often reactions to certain environmental stimuli. Every animal species has characteristic, generally inherited patterns of responses or reactions, which they use across a wide range of environments without formal instruction, learning, or any other environmental input beyond the bare minimum for physical survival (Blakemore and Jennett 2001). Sea turtles, hatched on a beach, automatically move toward the ocean, and honeybees communicate by dance the direction of a food source, all without formal instruction.

    Instinct is an innate tendency to action elicited by external stimuli, unless overridden by intelligence, which is creative and more versatile. Examples of animal behaviors that are not based upon prior experience include reproduction and feeding among insects, animal fighting, animal courtship behavior, internal escape functions, and building of nests. Instinctive behavior can be demonstrated across much of the broad spectrum of animal life, down to bacteria that propel themselves toward beneficial substances, and away from repellent substances.

    There is a lack of consensus on a precise definition of instinct and what human behaviors may be considered instinctual. More confining definitions argue that for a behavior to be instinctual it must be automatic, irresistible, triggered by environmental stimuli, occur in all members of a species, unmodifiable, and not require training. Based on these rigorous criteria, there is no instinctual human behavior. Likewise, some sociologists consider instincts to be innate behaviors that are present in all members of a species and cannot be overridden (Robertson 1989), but since even the drives of sex and hunger can be overridden, this definition also leads to the view that humans have no instincts. On the other hand, other individuals consider certain human behaviors to be instinctual, such as instinctive reflexes in babies (such as fanning of the toes when foot is stroked), since they are free of learning or conditioning, as well as such traits as altruism and the fight or flight response. The concept is still hotly debated.

    From a religious perspective, some “psychological” instincts attributed to human beings, such as altruism, sense of “fairness” (Flam 2000), and so forth, might best be attributed to a “conscience,” or to a spirit mind; that is, considered innate aspects of the human spiritual nature, rather than a purely physical phenomena. Similarly, on another level, religious or philosophical concepts may include commonly recognized instincts as part of the “physical mind” (internal character) of an animal or human, rather than the “physical body” (external form, such as part of the DNA).

    It is debatable whether or not living beings are bound absolutely by instinct. Though instinct is what seems to come naturally or perhaps with heredity, general conditioning and environment surrounding a living being play a major role. Predominantly, instinct is pre-intellectual, while intuition is trans-intellectual.

    As usual, there is considerable debate, and there is considerable uncertainty.

    Your remarks also point out the broad-based appeal of the design perspective, as your remarks reflect what appears to be a pantheistic view. Such worldview level perspectives are of course open to debates on comparative difficulties and to questions of competing core warranting arguments [e.g. cf. such an argument in a Christian frame here], but the point that is material for the ongoing contentions on ID is that this shows yet again how the inference to design is not to be equated to Biblical Creationism, or that invented smear-term “neo-Creationism.”

    GEM of TKI

  3. F/N: News, makes some interesting remarks, here.

    (BTW, where did beavers get their instinctual engineering knowledge from? A dam is by no means a simple structure. Could one of our commenters suggest — with empirical evidence — how dam building knowledge gets coded in a genome?)

  4. Yes, as defined by Intelligent Design, beavers are intelligent. As a matter of fact all organisms are agencies- intelligent agencies as they do things that nature, operating freely, could not.

  5. Hi Joseph:

    Beavers of course are limited in the extent of that intelligence and raise serious questions about where such in-built non-learned abilities come from.

    I guess we could see a spectrum of the self-moved, from bacteria to humans, and reflecting in-built abilities that raise some of the points addressed by Wallace in his study on the world of life a century ago.

    GEM of TKI

  6. The argument could go in a direction whereas beavers exhibit a relatively large brain among rodents; yet a similar argument could be made regarding honey bees or various species of birds and their contributions to ecological balance and well-being. Interesting thoughts, KF.

  7. CY:

    That relatively large brain came from a single-celled zygote based on its genetic material, regulatory networks and cellular nanomachines.

    In this case, dam and lodge building were programmed in as behaviour sets, making a keystone ecological species.

    That raises design issues at individual and species level, and at ecosystem level.

    It also — via the Smith cybernetic Model — points to serious questions on mind or at least the seat of intelligent behaviour and its possible nature[s].

    BTW, has anyone done serious gene knockout studies on Beavers, or comparatives on eurasian and north american beavers [different chromosome numbers, similar behaviours, maybe there are key similar stretches of genomic material]?

    GEM of TKI

  8. F/N: I notice how the Canadians are taking a strong interest in this thread!

  9. Hi kairosfocus-

    Dr Sermonti touched on this in his book “Why is a Fly Not a Horse?” in chapter VIII “I Can Only Tell You What You Alraedy Know”:

    Who can say how much of what we think we are learning is already there within us and awaits us from distant projections?

  10. Beavers, like all other living, functional, beings, reveal,
    that there was/is ‘Intelligent Design’ behind each and every one of them, and us. Therefore, CSI and IC is so inherently and implicitly obvious, confirmed by:

    1) Logical consistency,
    2) Empirical Adequacy,
    3) Experiential Relevancy,

    That when we logically, by the evidence and facts, of such incredibly, functionally organized ‘beings’ be they animals or humans, the only rational conclusion, IS* that a vastly, Omnipotent, and loving Intelligent Being, could have brought all of this amazing complexity of life* together as we see and witness daily, chance simply could not have done this!

  11. Could you develop this a bit, sounds a lot like Plato’s theory of forms and education as drawing out.

  12. To further test the implied hypothesis, post a thread about bald eagles.

  13. Zoe

    I would say that when we look at the world of life, it points to Wallace’s “The World of Life: a manifestation of Creative Power, Directive Mind and Ultimate Purpose.”

    Some would dispute that the designer of life is anything beyond an illusion of the power of chance variation and natural selection, but run into the sort of problems of finding a needle in a haystack on a relatively small search — one straw to a cubical hay bale as big across as light travels in a month. Then, bring to bear the heavy artillery: the observed cosmos seems rather fine tuned for life, in many [dozens] of ways.

    It is then seriously arguable (as a worldview level inference informed by the science and related analysis — such as sampling theory that tells us a one straw size, not intelligently directed sample like that will overwhelmingly pick up straw even if a solar system sized tree of needles was lurking in it) that the best explanation is indeed design by an architect of the cosmos.

    That may well be why the force of he argument on the evidence and analysis is so stoutly resisted. Not on the want of warrant for inferring design form reliable sign, but rather that such an inference points to a Divine Foot in the door, which is most unwelcome to such.

    I think we need to turn down the hyperskepticism driven by worldview level agendas, and actually pay serious attention to the evidence.

    In this case, what is the beaver and its astonishing capacity telling us about the nature of intelligence, of how knowledge and skill can be built into the genome, and, onwards, of mind and of our world?

    GEM of TKI

  14. KF, Yup, that’s really it, the Divine Foot in the door! And this awesomely beyond words, Designer, has left his ‘footprint’ everywhere, in his Created order of everything, for all to see, examine, and conclude, this just did not, could not happen by evo mat!

    But, as MLK said, “Facts are stubborn things, and only the stubborn refuse to accept them.” Such is the bent, intellectually, from many who have wilfully choosen blindness of heart, mind, and soul!

  15. Zoe:

    I am quoting, from Lewontin in his notorious article in the NY Review of Books, 1997:

    ______________

    >> . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident [[actually, science and its knowledge claims are plainly not immediately and necessarily true on pain of absurdity, to one who understands them; this is another logical error, begging the question , confused for real self-evidence; whereby a claim shows itself not just true but true on pain of patent absurdity if one tries to deny it . . ] that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test [[i.e. an assertion that tellingly reveals a hostile mindset, not a warranted claim] . . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [[another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [[i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [And those who have swallowed the "that's quote-mined" talking point and imagine the the immediately following words JUSTIFY the just cited, should read on through the notes and further cites at the just above link.] >>
    _______________

    The matter should be clear enough.

    GEM of TKI

  16. “That raises design issues at individual and species level, and at ecosystem level.”

    Have you read up on the introduction of non-indigenous beavers to Tierra Del Fuego? Very interesting stuff. Ecosystems require a very delicate balance.

    Another issue is that when civilization encroaches on the habitats of these creatures, they continue with the same behavior not so much to the detriment of their own habitats, but to those of the civilized world. We see them as a menace when they’re only doing what instinct tells them to do.

    So I think you’re right; somehow it seems that a design inference could be made towards these delicate ecosystems in the same way that fine tuning infers design in the cosmos.

    The Darwinists are going to think we’re taking design a little too far with this one, but IC seems to apply when you remove a beaver from it’s natural habitat, or place it in foreign habitats.

    In the 200+ year history of North American settlement, beavers have been valued for their furs as well as for use in perfumes and medicine. It would be interesting to see what a study in the effects of the long-term depletion of these creatures would hold. From what I understand there are perhaps less than 5% left in the wild compared to the time when North American settlers first began their westward migration. What an impact that must have had on the watersheds that are so vital to the balance of nature. In fact, I read about a study that was done in Alberta regarding how a significant increase in the beaver population has had a dramatic effect on ground water.

    See here:

    http://www.archives.expressnew...../9085.html

  17. Yup, but then invasive/introduced species is now an old hat problem. Ecosystems seem to be often delicately balanced.

  18. Thesis (also looks at trout)

  19. Ah, you found a study on del Fuego. Thanks.

  20. KF, Lewontin’s notorious assertions, are replete with un-scientific folly, void of any sound science ‘footing’ with which to stand on, because the ‘Divine Foot’ IS* already IN* the door, firmly established by the warranted facts and evidence of CSI and IC.

    As Professor Marvin L. Lubenow, in his thorough work, “Bones of Contention” writes: speaking at an annual convention of the American Association of Science (AAAS) in San Francisco, astronomer Carl Sagan (Cornell University) explained how science works:

    “The most fundamental axioms and conclusions may be challenged” and the prevailing hypothesis “must survive confrontation with observation” “Appeals to authority” he said, “are impermissible”, and “experiments must be reproducible.” This, of course, is the concept of science which the general public has.”

    Lubenow, the correctly asserts: “Sagan’s comments give us an insight into how he, and evolutionists like him work. He gives lip service to the accepted methodology of science. However, when presenting his views on the evolution of everything, he gives the public a feewheeling fantasy in which one cannot seperate science from science FICTION*, the result is that all of it is accepted as science…Hence the public is often fed a PHILOSOPHY* under the guise of science.” Emphasis added.

    The fact of the matter is, that The Fossil Record, From Microorganisms to Fish, from Fish to Reptiles, The Origin of Mammals, and The Origin of Man, are all destitute, devoide, of any true, factual support for Evo Mat; because, the overwhelming preponderance of evidence, as witnessed IN* the Fossil record, thus far discovered, speak loudly, in their eloquent silence, just look at our immensely, densely, CSI, and IC, as we were all designed* from the very beginning, that’s why you have not, and will never find any ‘transitional’ fossils!

    So, Lewontin and Co, continue to fabricate pseudo-scientic theories all you like, it just continues to confirm your utter hatred and contempt for the explicitly, implied, amazingly and scientifically obvious character of Intelligent Design, which can be denied by you, but cannot be soundly refuted with any intelletually veracity of true science!

  21. F/N: One of the points News raised for discussion is the way that falling trees seem to be a particular hazard for the beavers. (Snopes has a forum here (under urban legends) with a picture, and the participants raise the issue on how even humans sometimes fail to properly estimate a fall, or miss the effects of a wind-gust or a bounce-off from something.)

    Ecology.info adds:

    Beaver are sometimes found dead under fallen trees (Hitchcock 1954; Scotter and Scotter 1989). These apparently rare, accidental deaths may be the result of beaver misjudging where trees they are cutting will fall, or of one beaver cutting down a tree that kills another beaver (Scotter and Scotter 1989). Still another possibility is that a beaver was killed by a natural treefall of a partly cut tree.

    This is linking in my mind to an observational report from Enos Mills, about 100 years ago that I also ran across:

    A number of beaver establishing a colony made one of the most interesting exhibitions of constructive work that I have ever watched. The work went on for several weeks, and I spent hours and days in observing operations. My hiding-place on a granite crag allowed me a good view of the work, –the cutting and transportation of the little logs, the dam-building, and the house-raising. I was close to the trees that were felled. Occasionally, during the construction work of this colony, I saw several beaver at one time cutting trees near one another. Upon one occasion, one was squatted on a fallen tree, another on the limb of a live one, and a third upon a boulder, each busy cutting down his tree. In every case, the tail was used for a combination stool and brace. While cutting, the beaver sat upright and clasped the willow with fore paws or put his hands against the tree, usually tilting his head to one side. The average diameter of the trees cut was about four inches, and a tree of this size was cut down quickly and without a pause.

    When the tree was almost cut off, the cutter usually thumped with his tail, at which signal all other cutters near by scampered away. But this warning signal was not always given, and in one instance an unwarned cutter had a narrow escape from a tree falling perilously close to him.

    Before cutting a tree, a beaver usually paused and appeared to look at its surroundings as if choosing a place to squat or sit while cutting it down; but so far as I could tell, he gave no thought as to the direction in which the tree was going to fall. This is true of every beaver which I have seen begin cutting, and I have seen scores. But beavers have individuality, and occasionally I noticed one with marked skill or decision. It may be, therefore, that some beaver try to fell trees on a particular place. In fact, I remember having seen in two localities stumps which suggested that the beaver who cut down the trees had planned just how they were to fall. In the first locality, I could judge only from the record left by the stumps; but the quarter on which the main notch had been made, together with the fact that the notch had in two instances been made on a quarter of the tree where it was inconvenient for the cutter to work, seemed to indicate a plan to fell the tree in a particular direction. In the other locality, I knew the attitude of the trees before they were cut, and in this instance the evidence was so complete and conclusive that I must believe the beaver that cut down these trees endeavored to get them to fall in a definite direction. In each of these cases, however, judging chiefly from the teeth-marks, I think the cuttings were done by the same beaver. Many observations induce me to believe, however, that the majority of beaver do not plan how the trees are to fall.

    Once a large tree is on the ground, the limbs are trimmed off and the trunk is cut into sections sufficiently small to be dragged, rolled, or pushed to the water, where transportation is easy . . .

    To my mind, the above is at least suggestive of beaver devolution, probably triggered by a founder effect problem. In turn, that points fingers towards the sharp constriction in population that happened due to the trapping out of both main species, and/or other population restrictions that we did not observe.

    Such would easily make the beaver as we see it today, into damaged goods.

    I am also led to wonder about the differences between the North American and Eurasian beavers, which not so many years past were thought to be in effect races of the same species, until genetic studies showed that the first has 40 and the latter 48 chromosomes, which explains why attempts to force interbreeding in the USSR failed. Is a cluster of chromosome split/fusion events a reasonable explanation of so large a gap?

    Multiply the above by the pattern of being an instinctual lumberjack and dam-builder, and there are many indicia here that point to the beaver as a very useful animal for further study in light of the issues being raised by design theory.

    GEM of TKI

  22. Zoe:

    Significant issues.

    A priorism and imposition of heavy-handed institutionalised political correctness have no proper place in science, especially for origins science where we are unable to directly observe the remote past and must needs seek the best explanation across competing reasonable possibilities.

    Lubenow’s rebukes should be heeded.

    GEM of TKI

  23. Do bald eagles do something as striking as beaver dam-building? That would be well worth following up.

  24. F/N: Review article on beavers and ecosystems impacts esp. on fish.

  25. F/N: Some for- reference facts on beaver specialisations:

    . . . the beaver is unmistakable due to its large body size (26-65 pounds, 25-35 inches) and broad flattened tail (9-10 inches long, 6 inches wide), not to mention the characteristically altered habitat in which it resides. Characteristics unique to the beaver include a nictitating membrane, or a secondary internal, opaque inner eyelid, valvular ears and nose, and lips that close behind the incisors, thereby allowing a beaver to gnaw underwater. Large incisors are continuously growing and are kept at a manageable length by the gnawing action beaver use to procure food. Their rich, dense fur ranges in color from yellow-brown to almost black. Webbed hind feet serve to compliment the extraordinary swimming ability of the beaver, and the second hind toe has a split nail, purportedly for grooming purposes.

    Although the beaver’s tail is flat, primarily to aid in swimming and to navigate aquatic habitats, it serves other purposes as well. The tissue beneath the scaly outer layer, which is actually compressed, aggregated hairs, is highly vascularized at its base, and serves as a thermoregulatory tool. Blood is shunted from the surface of the tail, thereby minimizing heat loss. It also serves as a means for fat storage.

    And, Canadians, kindly note: the Beaver is the official NY state mammal!

  26. F/N: Dug up some research papers, that suggest beavers do have at least some tendency to cut in a logically desirable direction:

    1: Raffel & Gatz, here, abstract:

    >> We studied patterns in the orientation of cutting when beavers (Castor canadensis cut trees around Alum Creek Lake in central Ohio. For 462 trees, we measured the slope at the base of the tree, the orientation of the cut relative to this slope, the distance of the tree from the water, the radius of the tree, and the symmetry of the cut. The land around Alum Creek Lake generally slopes toward the water, so to direct the fall of a tree towards the water a beaver should cut a symmetrical tree from the downhill side. Cutting from the downhill side occurred for trees >9.0 m from the water. Near the shore, trees tended to lean toward the water and would fall toward the water regardless of the side from which the beaver cut. At distances lt9-0 m from shore, beavers cut predominantly from the uphill side where it should be easy to sit and there is little danger of the tree falling on them. At all distances, beavers showed random orientation when cutting trees on shallow slopes (lt20°), whereas on steep slopes (especially slopes >30°) they cut predominantly from the uphill side. Beavers cut small trees (lt5.0 cm diameter) mostly from the downhill side, but tended to cut trees >5.0 cm in diameter from the uphill side. Overall, enough factors interacted that no single pattern of cutting existed for all trees. >>

    2: Samways et al, here:

    >> . . . we found that trees were felled by beavers with a mean felling angle of 357.9 [degrees], a direction not significantly different from that of the dam. In all 62% of trees were felled within 45[degrees] of the dam . . . >>

    So, there seems to be some moderate amount of control on direction of felling, but with considerable variation.

    And plainly accidents and mistakes, sometimes fatal, do happen.

    A rather mixed bag outcome.

  27. KF, Our Omnipotent, Intelligent Designer’s staggering range, of limitless functional capacities, as seen, witnessed and observed, in His Creatures, with each species, displaying its own unique functionality, as Designed* into its system of LIFE* CSI, and logically inferred IC!

    Who can miss seeing this!?

  28. F/N: Just for fun, look at BA’s “gang of beavers” story from December ’08, and an attempted dismissal at Sci Blogs.

    The issue and the strawman should be both quite evident, and are relevant to the issues raised above.

  29. From just life it is possible to infer design, but not the particular designer of life. (It is possible that a molecular nanotech lab some generations beyond where Venter et al are today, could do what we see on earth.) But then put that world of life on a planet in a cosmos that is fine tuned for life and a very much bigger picture emerges.

  30. Overnight of course, some new images with captions were added, a cascaded set of beaver dams showing straight and arch dam formats, and a tree on fairly level ground that seems to have been girdled and chipped with a notch that would tend to promote fall in a specific direction. More grist for our beaver mill. This goes with research findings that have been put up in the discussion thread. Also, some previous exchanges on beavers as designers have been found through web search.

  31. KF, If “From just first life it is possible to infer design, but not the particular designer of life.”

    Please enlighten why not possible to ‘infer’ the particular designer of life!?

  32. Zoe:

    Just from the functionally specific complex information and related organisation based on molecular nanomachines like DNA, RNA, proteins, enzymes, ribosomes etc in observed life, we may infer to much the same structures in the first cell based life. If that life must both metabolise and self-replicate using digital stored info. (Just ATP Synthase alone is enough to make the point: the energy battery molecule factory, a rotary robot factory spinning at 1,000′s of rev pm and spitting out 3 ATPs per cycle! Cyanide kills in seconds by cutting off the effect of ATP.)

    The best explanation for that — on many grounds not to be elaborated just now [cf link for starters] — that FSCO/I is best explained on design.

    However, the design of life itself, standing by itself, is sufficiently [note the logical subtlety] accounted for on say a molecular nanotechnology lab some generations beyond Craig Venter’s recent efforts. Mycoplasma laboratorium is a proof of concept of intelligent design of life in the lab, at least as a prelim stage.

    It is when we look at the environments of life, the chemistry involved and the physics behind a cosmos in which you have such habitable zone planets in solar systems and galaxies of the right type, with the proper elements in required abundance, etc etc, that we see that the observed COSMOS is fine tuned for such C-chemistry, cell based life that uses an aqueous medium.

    Worse [for our would-be materialist], that cosmos credibly had a beginning, so it is a contingent being; one with one or more necessary causal factors, which demands that there is something causally antecedent to our observed cosmos. From a true nothing — not matter, energy, space, time, forces, mind or anything else — plainly, nothing comes.

    Even through multiverse speculations [strictly, philosophy not science as there are no observations . . . never mind Mr Hawking et al!] that requires, logically, a necessary being, one capable of forming a cosmos, with the required fine tuning for life. Such a NB (per simple logic) has no external necessary causal factors, and so if it exists it always existed and can never cease from existing, there is nothing to turn it off so to speak. So a serious candidate NB is either impossible [like 2 + 2 = 5], or it is eternally existent in all possible worlds [like 2 + 3 = 5]!

    If possible, then actual.

    An eternal, massively powerful being with the knowledge, skill and power to be architect and builder of the observed cosmos.

    Sounds familiar?

    An observed cosmos fine tuned for C-chemistry cell based life [observed forms of which reflect massive evidence of design], some of which happens to be intelligent and under moral government. As the hot parallel threads show — and note we are clearly discussing world view issues not science at this point, the only way that ought can be grounded is if there is a foundational IS that can bear the weight of OUGHT. (Cf discussions here and here.)

    The ONLY serious worldview foundations candidate for that — you should see the twists and turns to avoid acknowledging this — is an inherently good, creator God.

    So, pull the strands together and braid ‘em into a rope: a necessary being, with the power and ability to create a cosmos fine tuned for life, which has in it intelligent, and credibly designed life that is morally governed, requiring an inherently good Creator God to order such a universe.

    Sounds familiar?

    It should.

    Now, go back through. Have we at any point cited or based our inferences on anything beyond logic and observation, per the approach of inference to best explanation?

    No.

    In particular you will find nowhere in this post a citation or inference from the text of any religious work as such. This has been a WORLDVIEW level discussion (as opposed to a theological or scripture study one), essentially on inference to best explanation in light of scientific evidences and the logic of cause. (Cf here on worldviews analysis on comparative difficulties.)

    And BTW, this is pretty much where Plato ended up in The Laws, Bk X, at the end of his life, c 360 BC.

    Let’s clip:

    _________

    >> Ath[enian Stranger]. . . . when one thing changes another, and that another, of such will there be any primary changing element? How can a thing which is moved by another ever be the beginning of change? Impossible. But when the self-moved changes other, and that again other, and thus thousands upon tens of thousands of bodies are set in motion, must not the beginning of all this motion be the change of the self-moving principle? . . . . self-motion being the origin of all motions, and the first which arises among things at rest as well as among things in motion, is the eldest and mightiest principle of change, and that which is changed by another and yet moves other is second.

    [[ . . . .]

    Ath. If we were to see this power existing in any earthy, watery, or fiery substance, simple or compound-how should we describe it?

    Cle[nias]. You mean to ask whether we should call such a self-moving power life?

    Ath. I do.

    Cle. Certainly we should.

    Ath. And when we see soul in anything, must we not do the same-must we not admit that this is life?

    [[ . . . . ]

    Cle. You mean to say that the essence which is defined as the self-moved is the same with that which has the name soul?

    Ath. Yes; and if this is true, do we still maintain that there is anything wanting in the proof that the soul is the first origin and moving power of all that is, or has become, or will be, and their contraries, when she has been clearly shown to be the source of change and motion in all things?

    Cle. Certainly not; the soul as being the source of motion, has been most satisfactorily shown to be the oldest of all things.

    Ath. And is not that motion which is produced in another, by reason of another, but never has any self-moving power at all, being in truth the change of an inanimate body, to be reckoned second, or by any lower number which you may prefer?

    Cle. Exactly.

    Ath. Then we are right, and speak the most perfect and absolute truth, when we say that the soul is prior to the body, and that the body is second and comes afterwards, and is born to obey the soul, which is the ruler?

    [[ . . . . ]

    Ath. If, my friend, we say that the whole path and movement of heaven, and of all that is therein, is by nature akin to the movement and revolution and calculation of mind, and proceeds by kindred laws, then, as is plain, we must say that the best soul takes care of the world and guides it along the good path. [[Plato here explicitly sets up an inference to design (by a good soul) from the intelligible order of the cosmos.] >>
    _________

    Newton, in his General Scholium to Principia, says much the same.

    No prizes for guessing why The Laws Bk X is as rare as hen’s teeth in general discussions or what the Greek Philosophers thought!

    So, the point is the case is a cumulative one, like a natural rope. Little fibres are twisted together to form strands, and then we counter twist and re twist to gradually build up a long strong rope.

    And, if you imagine that by pulling a single fibre and saying that’s weak you can dismiss the strength of the whole rope, you have just committed a blatant fallacy of composition.

    At worldviews level, you need to compare major alternatives on issues of comparative difficulties across factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power. Scientific issues are relevant, but so are science and society ones, and so are moral ones, logical ones, analyses of cause and the like.

    One thing is clear, contrary to the new atheist rhetoric, a theistic view of the cosmos is viable, and provides what the stridently promoted evolutionary materialist one so blatantly does not: a coherent basis for a major part of our experience of our world, namely an IS that is capable of grounding OUGHT. In addition, it makes sense of the strong appearance of design in life, and in our cosmos as a whole.

    That leads to the concern that we are facing an essentially ideological materialist agenda, promoted not so much based on its inherent strength on the merits, but through the agendas it fits in with, starting with trying to make sure there is no Divine Foot in the door, as Lewontin confessed to. On an excuse that a priori materialism is in effect necessary to preserve an orderliness to the world; which falls apart on examining the basic fact that modern science was founded in the main by theists who believed in a creating God who may work miracles from time to time for his own good reasons. (Where also, for a miracle to stand out as a sign pointing beyond the ordinary course of the world, and for us to be responsible creatures under moral government, there must first be an intelligible, predictable ordinary course of the world, i.e all the room for science that is really needed.)

    It is time to think again, soberly.

    GEM of TKI

  33. Dr BOT:

    The above is my answer to your infer to humans argument.

    Have you seen it?

    GEM of TKI

  34. kairosfocus said: “Beavers are “instinctual” entities, i.e. they don’t seem to be able to choose a different path in life other than being a part of a dam-building team. Worker bees do not overthrow their queen. Mars Rovers don’t declare independence and set up a robot republic on Mars. Humans can, and do.”

    Beavers can, and do:
    -Gurnell, A.M. 1998. The hydrogeomorphological effects of beaver dam-building activity. Prog. Phys. Geo. 22: 167-189.

    Worker bees can, and do:

    -Bourke, A.F.G. 1994. Worker matricide in social bees and wasps. J. Theoret. Biol. 167: 283–292.
    -Foster, K.R. & Ratnieks, F.L.W. 2001. Paternity, reproduction and conflict in vespine wasps: a model system for testing kin selection predictions. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 50: 1–8.

    Mars Rovers haven’t been around for very long or in any significant numbers, so, who knows what they can, and will do?

  35. Molch

    You have raised an interesting matter on bumble bees, which is relevant though I had honeybees in mind (I almost forget there is a whole cluster of taxonomic families of bees). Looks like some bees do kill off unproductive queens and succeed them.

    Worker-bees of the world unite!

    As for beavers, some find places where they do not need to build a dam, and build only a lodge or a dugout.

    Do you know of beavers that do more than that?

    GEM of TKI

  36. Yes, indeed – worker bees unite!

    My point was that you create an unjustified dichotomy between humans as “entities” that are observed doing things that are not purely instinctual (or even the opposite of instinctual? whatever that would exactly be in the context you are creating?), and all other animals as purely “instinctual entities”. There is no justification for such a dichotomy to be derived from our current knowledge of behavioral ecology of humans and other animals.

    “As for beavers, some find places where they do not need to build a dam, and build only a lodge or a dugout. Do you know of beavers that do more than that?”

    Specify “more”.

  37. Am HD:

    >> in·stinct (nstngkt)
    n.
    1. An inborn pattern of behavior that is characteristic of a species and is often a response to specific environmental stimuli: the spawning instinct in salmon; altruistic instincts in social animals.
    2. A powerful motivation or impulse.
    3. An innate capability or aptitude: an instinct for tact and diplomacy.
    adj. (n-stngkt)
    1. Deeply filled or imbued: words instinct with love.
    2. Obsolete Impelled from within.
    [Middle English, from Latin nstnctus, impulse, from past participle of nstinguere, to incite : in-, intensive pref.; see in-2 + stinguere, to prick; see steig- in Indo-European roots.]

    The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.>>

    –> Do beavers go to engineering school?

  38. Ok, using instinct in the sense of #1 of your dictionary citation, my point obviously stands: you create an unjustified dichotomy between humans as “entities” that are observed doing things that are not purely instinctual, and all other animals as purely “instinctual entities”. There is no justification for such a dichotomy to be derived from our current knowledge of behavioral ecology of humans and other animals.

    Do beavers go to engineering school?
    Ahm, no.

    Do they learn and improve engineering techniques from experiences and from conspecifics and adapt behavioral responses to environmental changes?
    Yes.

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