The Instigator
Zetsubou
Con (against)
Losing
7 Points
The Contender
belle
Pro (for)
Winning
34 Points

Resolution: Evolution is an observed fact

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/6/2010 Category: Science
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,937 times Debate No: 12694
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (27)
Votes (7)

 

Zetsubou

Con

Resolution: Evolution is an observed fact.

This debate was originally going to be about the below study and whether it proves the above resolution. Belle changed her mind.
""Article: http://www.pnas.org...
Full pdf. or 'supplemental' by Zachary D. Blount et al : http://www.pnas.org...

The Study,
The experiment was - in the most simplest of terms - The culturing of an unnamed strain of E coli in a citrate (base of citric acid) and partially glucose solution, all known strains of E coli cannot 'feed' - within atmospheric conditions at least - in such an environment. The experiment, started in 1988, followed over 30,000 generations of E coli, it is until two years ago that E coli bacteria have seemingly evolved and been able to exploit or 'feed' on the carbon in its citrate environment. The study was carried out by the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics of Michigan State University, East Lansing supported by the National Academy of Sciences of the United State of America; full details are in the links above.""

That is all, I leave unto the belle in the next round to prove how this or anything else makes evolution 'an observed fact'

Thank you for reading.

Ambiguous Definitions - Fact - 5: a piece of information presented as having objective reality - http://www.merriam-webster.com... [definitions 1, 3 and 4 are also applicable]

-> On Escherichia coli - http://www.textbookofbacteriology.net...
-> On Citrate - http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com...
-> On Evolution - http://www.pbs.org...
belle

Pro

Thank you Zets! To be clear I didn't "change my mind", zets only misunderstood what I was asking to debate about. A single study is too limited in scope to really discuss this issue.

To begin, as this debate is about evolution, I will clarify what is meant by the term:

Change in the genetic composition of a population during successive generations[1]

This is the only meaning of the term relevant to this debate. Note that "natural selection" is not at issue here. What we are debating is that evolution- that is genetic change over time- has been observed.

The study Zets references is the most direct example to date. In the study successive generations of E. coli were grown and cultured; eventually a new, functional gene emerged that allowed the organism to digest citrate. As these bacteria were grown under controlled laboratory conditions, horizontal gene transfer between these E. coli and some bacteria with the ability to metabolize citrate could not have occurred. Even if a particular sample was somehow contaminated, that would not explain the results obtained, as scientists (using samples of the bacteria they had frozen at various points in time) re-ran the bacterial divisions from different points in the past and found that the ability re-emerged in most of the cellular populations originating after 20,000 generations. In other words- it was not a contaminant in the single population in which the ability emerged. Nor was it a contaminant in the generation-20,000 population- if that were the case the ability to metabolize citrate would have appeared more immediately, not hidden out for 10,000 generations. [2]

Evolution has also been observed in other contexts. For example, polyploidy (the duplication of the entire genome) is a common event in plants. A parent and its polyploid progeny are incapable of creating viable offspring, and thus are considered to be different species. This type of event has been observed many times [3]

In another example from the microbial world, antibiotic resistance is becoming a major issue, especially in hospitals. When antibiotics were first discovered, they were extremely effective against a wide variety of disease-causing agents. [4] Today that is no longer the case. So called "superbugs" such as MRSA have emerged in hospitals (where antibiotics are most commonly used) that cannot be killed by standard antibiotics. [5] In fact, these bugs are common forms of bacteria that have acquired new genes that provide them protection against the medicine meant to kill them.

As a final example, I will offer this link from my opponent's own source:

http://www.pbs.org...

Ring species can be thought of as an a-temporal array of the various intermediate forms that occur during the process of evolution. Rather than being distributed over time, they are distributed over space, yet still they change as their environment does.

Thats enough for now. I would be happy to elaborate on any of these points if you have challenges or questions.

1. http://www.thefreedictionary.com...
2. http://www.newscientist.com...
3. http://www.talkorigins.org...
4. http://www.textbookofbacteriology.net...
5. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com...
Debate Round No. 1
Zetsubou

Con

Okay, thanks for accepting.

I would like to contend Pro's definition of the word Evolution, her's in too implicit I know she's avoiding the cause factors eg. natural selection but evolution is a how they changed not what changed. Her definition allows her to say here is one organism, here is another organism 3 months later with a similar DNA sequence. Hey presto! It's evolution.

Here is an amended form: "Evolution is the change in the inherited traits of a population of organisms through successive generations"[1] The addition of 'inherited' confirms that the latter generations must descend from the original base species.

I would now like to define theory as:
"An explanation of why and how a specific natural phenomenon occurs. A lot of hypotheses are based on theories. In turn, theories may be redefined as new hypotheses are tested. Examples of theories: Newton's Theory of Gravitation, Darwin's Theory of Evolution, Mendel's theory of Inheritance, Einstein's Theory of Relativity"[2]

Evolution is a theory, a plausible one at that and one that will be observed in the near future, but at the current time it is no more than a theory. I hold this in regard to my second definition - scientific law.

"A logical, mathematical statement describing a consistency that applies to all members of a broad class of phenomena when specific conditions are met. Examples of scientific laws: Faraday's Law of electromagnetic induction, Coulomb's Law of electrostatic attraction, Dalton's Law of partial pressures, Boyle's Gas Law."[2]

The transition of a known theory/hypothesis to also be a fact or scientific law is when a they are OBSERVED to be true(note dear reader that one cannot prove anything within science).[3] Evolution has not been observed and is therefore not a fact/law.

Scientific studies by Pro
i)Escherichia coli
I won't repeat much from this as Pro has given you such a good guide. In this study E coli bacteria were left and studied for over 20,000 generations. I do not doubt the studies reliability, however all it shows is that a confirmed Phenotypic trait was found in a new generation. It does not show how that E coli (C+) came into being. In this example the RNA translation must be observed and the new bacterium captured. This stays true to the 'inherited' definition of evolution.

ii)Polyploidy
The observation of meiosis in domesticated plants resulting in polyploidy is rare, that observation would need millennia to be observed. You can chemically induce micro-organisms to produce polyploid offspring though.

iii)Antibiotic resistance.
Almost the same as Escherichia coli just concerning the virion mutation instead.

//References
[1] - Evolution by Douglas J. Futuyama (used by wikipedia)
[2] - http://www.ncsu.edu... - North Carolina State University 2004
[3] - http://wilstar.com...

Thank you for this debate, I think I'll use this for my biology dissertation.
belle

Pro

I am absolutely avoiding the causal factors. As I clearly stated in the comments to your profile, "evolution" is seperate from "the theory of evolution by natural selection". This debate is not about natural selection. It is about evolution.

"yah. evolution as in the relation of species to one another (both in appearance and genetically), and the idea that there is genetic change over time. the historical evidence is strong and we have actually observed this genetic change in the case of bacteria. natural selection is the part that is theory, meant to give an account of how the changes lead to the many difference species we observe today."
-http://www.debate.org...

That is what I am advocating and what I have always advocated.

Evolution is defined simply- genetic change over time. Natural selection is a proposed method of explaining why and how this change occurs, however THAT IS NOT WHAT THIS DEBATE IS ABOUT- not any scientific theory or law. What I am advocating makes no predictions and is not meant to explain anything. It is simply the observed fact (as mentioned in the many examples I gave) that organisms experience genetic change over time and that such changes can be passed on in various ways to offspring.

Even granting CON's assertion that the change[s] must be inherited, the E. coli study I mentioned already fulfills this burden, as do the many documented cases of spontaneous polyploidy which my opponent apparently chooses to ignore.

http://www.cazv.cz...
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com...
http://web.mac.com...
http://www.plantbiology.msu.edu...(2).pdf
http://www.sciencedirect.com...
http://www.cababstractsplus.org...

etc

As for the E. coli study:

"I do not doubt the studies reliability, however all it shows is that a confirmed Phenotypic trait was found in a new generation. It does not show how that E coli (C+) came into being. In this example the RNA translation must be observed and the new bacterium captured. This stays true to the 'inherited' definition of evolution."

While it's certainly possible (though unlikely) that the gene to metabolize citrate was already present in the original sample, but the fact that it was unexpressed until over 30,000 generations had passed still implies that some evolution took place. Transcription is initiated by genetic instruction, a so called "promoter" sequence that turns genes on and off by being activated or inactivated. Thus, in order for the citrate gene to be activated, some OTHER gene must have experienced a mutation whereby it turned on the promoter or allowed it to be turned on. Most genes, in fact, modulate the activity of other genes. So either way, a genetic change led to a new ability. It doesn't particularly matter which gene was changed.

Furthermore, I have no idea what CON is on about when he says the new bacterium needs to be "captured" as it was grown in a petrie dish in a lab under extremely controlled conditions. Furthermore, its genome has been sequenced and its clear that it was descended from the earlier specimens. If he has some other point to make I ask that he make it more clearly because I am extremely confused about what he is trying to say here.

As for antibiotic resistance, CON refutes this by reference to "virions" which are a completely unrelated topic as they are wholly unaffected by antibiotics. [1][2] While anti-viral medications do exist, that is not what I am referring to. Bacteria which previously were susceptible to antibiotics are now resistant to them. This is genetic change over time.

Also note that CON completely ignored my discussion of ring species as an example of genetic change.

Not only has he failed to address my arguments, but he seems to have no idea what my arguments are. Evolution is an observed fact- the genetic composition of a species changes over time. Natural selection is a theory meant to explain how and why those changes take place (and not what this debate is about). CON's effots to equivocate them aside, he has yet to make a case for any real issue with my evidence.

1. http://www.drgreene.com...
2. http://www.drreddy.com...
Debate Round No. 2
Zetsubou

Con

Round Title: Genetic change alone does not constitute for evolution.

This is about Evolution not natural selection, I know that. Like I have told you in the comments, I haven't spoken about Natural Selection anywhere is this debate.

Evolution is 'the relation of species to one another (both in appearance and genetically), and the idea that there is genetic change over time.' One must know and OBSERVE that genetic change happening, the moment of evolution must be OBSERVED. You say: "we have actually observed this genetic change in the case of bacteria." No, you observed a difference in the genetic composition of a populations at two separate dates.

No causal factors? If you mean muation I don't see why the causes cannot be discussed. See this:

The second exponent of 2 is 4, 2^2. '2' is the domain, 'f(^2)' is the function. '4' is the codomain.
E coli(-) = f - domain
f(evolution) - function
E coli(+) - codomain

As a function:
f: X -> Y[2]

The cause is this case is the function, having only E coli(-) then E coli(+) is nothing unless I observe the binary fission of a bacterium that results in a gene that has a different genetic composition to the parent. All genetic changes can potentially have another cause, how do you not know that cell cannot replicate without meiosis eg protein composition in the ribosome becoming a nucleus? It hasn't been shown as impossible. Don't get me wrong, they're not mutuality exclusive however evolution is not the only choice, saying it is is a fallacy of exhaustive hypotheses.

2(f) = 4
E coli(-)(f) = E coli(+)

I must know without a doubt what 'f' is.

To prove evolution it's not enough to say here is species B-2, and two weeks later, here is species B-3. One must prove, through OBSERVATION that one evolved to another. It's the final round and you still haven't shown me evidence of anyone making an OBSERVATION of the mutation.

This is the final round and I'd hate to see Pro giving new evidence now. So Resolution Affermed.

I will follow each example Pro gives and see if they love up to this (below first =>). We have evidence "that (species of) organism's experience genetic change" but it's not evolution until I know what these causal factors are. Why? Because without the cause it's not evolution it's merely the difference in the genetic composition of a population over time.

If you still disagree with this here are two common definitions of evolution, the biological and the general.

1(The general) Gradual directional change especially one leading to a more advanced or complex form.[2]
2(The biological) The change in the genetic composition of a population over successive generations.[2]
-In biology, evolution is change in traits of a population of organisms over time (due to a number of mechanisms and processes). In other contexts, the term evolution can mean any gradual directional change.[3]

Again, someone MUST OBSERVE the change, the mutation, the transition that proves a genetic mutation, evolution, has occurred.

<====>

The Cases,
Many of these cases are, well… useless, they prove polypoidy exists and can be found in both domestic and wild species of plants, seeds and fruits. That is there main conclusion, see all the abstracts and conclusion sections to the links for evidence. Any further conclusions are that they MAY have occurred because of ‘X' reason. Eg. "It is suggested that these are true autopolyploids that have probably arisen through somatic doubling since tetraploid cell lines were found in some anther loculi."[#2] They are rarely linked to evolution or cell mitosis and even when they are linked it's only a POSSSIBLE connection.

#1) http://www.cazv.cz...
Citrus polypoids
Seedlings recovered from underdeveloped seeds of different commercial cultivars of Citrus were studied
for their plolypoid level. Chromosomal analysis showed that many had tetraploid and triploid chromosome numbers both in domestic and natural seeds. That is all the conclusions they made, relevance to this debate, I have no idea. Polyploidy exists, maybe?

#2) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com...
Poaceae(False grass) polyploids
Conclusions: Tetraploid and triploid chromosomes exist in Poacease grasses.

#3) http://web.mac.com...
The best link, neopolyploidy – and frequency. I only read ‘introduction' and ‘polyploidy and phenotypic evolution',
Conclusions: Polyploids show distinctive phenotypic traits, polyploids are commonly differentiated from progenitor diploids by a combination of morphological, reproductive, phenological, life-history, and physiological traits – examples followed. SUGGESTED, NON-FACT causes for these traits - increased DNA content, population genetics, gene dosage effects, infertility, allelic diversity, genetic load ect.

#4) http://www.plantbiology.msu.edu...
Factual Conclusions: Polyploidy exists in yeasts, insects, amphibians, reptiles, and fishes, estimate rate of tetraploid formation is of the same order as the genic mutation rate (10^-5), in plants, polyploidy represents a major mechanism of adaptation and speciation, rates of polyploidy in many species, triploids are often semifertile, and contribute to tetraploid formation.

Possible/Suggested Conclusions: Gene duplication suggests that the mammalian genome has a polyploid origin, unreduced gametes are the major mechanism of polyploid formation.

#5) (removed for space; see round 2)
Sorry, but due to time I can't give a full analysis, however I have read it, and like the others it's irrelevant.

#6) http://www.cababstractsplus.org...
Sorry, but due to time I can't give a full analysis, however I have read it, and like the others it's irrelevant.

>Concerning E Coli<
Evolution: "Evolution is the change in the inherited traits of a population" or "genetic composition of a species changes over time".

Did the E coli's genetic composition change over time?
Yes.

Is the moment of evolution/change(binary fission) recorded?
No.

Both answers must be without a doubt yeses for the genetic change to constitute as evolution and not merely differences in genetic composition over time.

<====>

Miscellaneous Defenses,

Natural Selection
Natural selection isn't a cause for evolution, mutation is. Mutation is the only cause for evolution. Natural selection is the means in which the mutated (evolved) species became a majority, the allele frequency increases, but even in this case, they must have been a ‘prime evolver' some time or another. [4]

Virion
According to Wikipedia antiviral drugs are a form antibiotics since they kill microorganisms[5]. From Pro's own link[6][http://www.drreddy.com...]: "Some unfortunately all too common -- for bacteria and some viruses to "learn" how to survive even with antibiotics around." Some Antibiotics do affect the ribosomes in a way that the virions cannot reproduce themselves.

Ring species,
I didn't know if I was supposed to reply for this, it's true but ring species are no different to any other evolved species. What led you to stating this?

'Captured'
By captured, I meant observed on a 1 to 1, bacteria to bacteria basis, bacteria evolved to bacteria.

I understand your argument very well.

[1] Logic, Induction and Sets, Thomas Forster.
[2] http://en.wiktionary.org...
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...(disambiguation)
[4] http://openlearn.open.ac.uk...
[5] http://www.answers.com...
[6] Pro's Round 2 - Link 1
belle

Pro

Round Counter-title: You're not off the hook because genes are too small to resolve with our eyes

As Zets said:
"To prove evolution it's not enough to say here is species B-2, and two weeks later, here is species B-3. One must prove, through OBSERVATION that one evolved to another. It's the final round and you still haven't shown me evidence of anyone making an OBSERVATION of the mutation."

He is taking the word "observation" literally, as in someone needs to have watched the gene with their own eyes changing. This is incredibly disingenuous, as it is extremely difficult and costly to actually image chromosomes in the process of replication and division. Furthermore all genes look the same in such imaging, so watching a mutation take place wouldn't look like anything. Not to mention, in an E. coli bacterium, DNA polymerase synthesizes new strands at the rate of 1000 base pairs per second. [1] By the time anyone realized what was going on, the relevant event would be over.

In any cause, the term "observation" here is meant in the scientific sense, and need not mean only viewing with one's eyes. As I am sure Zets is aware, the scientific method consists in developing hypotheses and testing them by means of controlling for all variables except the one of interest. That is what took place in the study in question. The variables were controlled such that no other (non-miraculous) explanation is possible for the observered result- a colony of bacteria displaying a heretofore unobserved ability. Zets himself has suggested no competing explanation for how this could have come about. Thats because there is no coherent explanation, except that the genetic makeup of the organism in question changed over the course of many generations.

"Many of these cases are, well�€� useless, they prove polypoidy exists and can be found in both domestic and wild species of plants, seeds and fruits. That is there main conclusion, see all the abstracts and conclusion sections to the links for evidence."

First off, recall in the last round Zets claimed that polAgain, Zets claims that because we are not in the position to physically watch these cells as they divide, it is not reasonable to draw the conclusion that such mutations occurred spontaneously. However, that is a violation of common sense and of sound reasoning. Occam's razor holds that the simplest explanation that adequately explains all the data is the most likely correct one. Not only is spontaneous genetic change (ie evolution) the simplest, and thus most likely possible explanation, it is also the only one on offer. Zets has not attempted to provide a differing or better explanation for these events of spontaneous change either, most likely because there are no better explanations. Also note that his refutations consist in the main of statements to the effect that "this is irrelevant" with little or no further explanation given.

"Natural selection isn't a cause for evolution, mutation is. Mutation is the only cause for evolution. Natural selection is the means in which the mutated (evolved) species became a majority, the allele frequency increases, but even in this case, they must have been a �€˜prime evolver' some time or another."

Mutations are base on which natural selection acts in order to produce the variety of life found on earth. While its true that without mutations, there would be no genetic differences for natural selection to act on, it is nonetheless the case that natural selection is the THEORY meant to explain why and how evolution takes place.

"According to Wikipedia antiviral drugs are a form antibiotics since they kill microorganisms"

Indeed. However, my round made no reference to viruses at all, but rather to "superbugs" such as MRSA, found to haunt hospitals. These superbugs are almost invariably bacteria.

"I didn't know if I was supposed to reply for this, it's true but ring species are no different to any other evolved species. What led you to stating this?"

As I stated in R1, ring species demonstrate gradual genetic changes spread over a geographical area, where 2 groups close to one another can interbreed, but the further apart they become, the more like 2 separate species they become. They provide a sort of time-lapse image of the evolutionary process spread over a geographical area. By observing the patterns in such species, we thus observe the process of genetic change over time.

I think everyone would agree that "observe" means more than to simply view with one's eyes. The study I cited clearly and carefully eliminated all possible competing explanations for the genetic change that took place. The supplementary evidence I offered further supported the conclusions reached by the study, namely that genetic change takes place and can lead to new traits. while Zets has attempted to call these results into question by being skeptical of conclusions drawn without physicaly viewing the events in question, this defence is inadequate. To take what one sees as a given while what one infers from what one sees as intrinsically suspect is inconsistent at best, and obfuscatory at worst. As he has shown no error in reasoning, nor even suggested one, between what was observed and what was concluded, one can only assume that he means to declare all inductions as suspect. If thats the case, he cannot rely on the sense of "seeing" that he does in reference to observation that he does without contradicting himself. For it is clearly an induction from past interactions that what we see represents something solid and real in the external world.

Forgive me if it appears I am introducing new arguments in the last round; however it is only in this final round that Zets declared the "observation" of scientific induction to be invalid in relation to the resolution. Due to his contradictory stance, I consider his arguments on that point moot.

1. http://cdn.idtdna.com...
Debate Round No. 3
27 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Bipolarmoment 6 years ago
Bipolarmoment
If you must observe the instant of "change" to qualify as an "observable fact" then how do you rule out eliciting the result vis-a-vis the uncertainty principle? Essentially if you ascribe to that notion you've created a Liar's paradox.
Posted by J.Kenyon 7 years ago
J.Kenyon
Pretty obvious who the winner is. Zets, you might want to consider consider using spell/grammar check. No one writes perfectly, but in your case, the errors sometimes make it difficult to understand what you're saying.
Posted by Zetsubou 7 years ago
Zetsubou
That quote doesn't show that I was talking about Natural Selection, not even in the slightest.

I didn't even mention Natural selection, that quote is just an extended premise to the debate.
Posted by Zetsubou 7 years ago
Zetsubou
That quote doesn't show that I was talking about Natural Selection, not even in the slightest.

I didn't even mention Natural selection, that quote is just an extended premise to the debate.
Posted by belle 7 years ago
belle
"Evolution is a theory, a plausible one at that and one that will be observed in the near future, but at the current time it is no more than a theory."

natural selection is a theory, not evolution itself
Posted by Zetsubou 7 years ago
Zetsubou
Sorry, but why does it appear that I am addressing natural selection?
Posted by Puck 7 years ago
Puck
So much fail ... so little time.
Posted by Zetsubou 7 years ago
Zetsubou
Sorry, I've been busy.
Posted by belle 7 years ago
belle
lol... arguments speak louder than cryptic comments my friend.
Posted by Zetsubou 7 years ago
Zetsubou
I knew it...
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