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  Topic: Failing to Understand Hierarchies?, Is there something wrong with this?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
blipey



Posts: 2061
Joined: June 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 03 2008,22:44   

Alright.  Revisiting (hopefully for the last time) the topic of nested hierarchies with Joe Gallien, I have come to a severe Whaaaa????? moment.

Joe cites the following site as a definition of nested hierarchy: http://www.isss.org/hierarchy.htm

I quote the relevant passage:

Quote
Nested and non-nested hierarchies: nested hierarchies involve levels which consist of, and contain, lower levels. Non-nested hierarchies are more general in that the requirement of containment of lower levels is relaxed. For example, an army consists of a collection of soldiers and is made up of them. Thus an army is a nested hierarchy. On the other hand, the general at the top of a military command does not consist of his soldiers and so the military command is a non-nested hierarchy with regard to the soldiers in the army.


In a response to an email inquiry I made of him, Professor Allen confirms that a paternal family tree is not a nested hierarchy.

However, from the bold passage above, I think this is false.  A family consists of a collection of people and is made up of them.  Therefore a family can be organized as a nested hierarchy just as an army can be (at least in the case of paternal family trees where each set can only be contained in one immediate superset).

I fail to see the difference between Professor Allen's army and a family (grouped by paternity).  Am I blind?

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But I get the trick question- there isn't any such thing as one molecule of water. -JoeG

And scientists rarely test theories. -Gary Gaulin

   
Bob O'H



Posts: 2132
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 04 2008,03:14   

Quote
I fail to see the difference between Professor Allen's army and a family (grouped by paternity).  Am I blind?

Nope.  Or at least I am too.

I think the point a out the army is subtle, and the description doesn't do it justice.  The general at the top of his hierarchy is a soldier.  So are the men below him in the hierarchy.  Therefore it is a nested hierarchy.  But, the chain of command consists of the power relationships between soldiers rather than membership relationships, so the command structure isn't a nested hierarchy.

Paternal lineages are also a nested hierarchy if one considers the lineage.  Any lineage can be defined by its members at a point in time.  The lineage contains all lineages at a later  point in time.  Hence it is a nested hierarchy.

In fact, one way of modelling evolution is to define the lineage in terms of nested sets, and model the pattern of nestedness.  IOW, it's formally defined as a nested hierarchy, using proper set theory an' all.

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It is fun to dip into the various threads to watch cluelessness at work in the hands of the confident exponent. - Soapy Sam (so say we all)

   
keiths



Posts: 2041
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 04 2008,03:28   

Quote (blipey @ Mar. 03 2008,22:44)
I fail to see the difference between Professor Allen's army and a family (grouped by paternity).  Am I blind?

Hi Blipey,

Professor Allen is mistaken.  A paternal family tree is a nested hierarchy, both by the generally accepted meaning of the term and by Prof. Allen's own definition.

Joe G's email to Professor Allen:
Quote
Sent: Monday, March 03, 2008 9:33 AM
To: tfallen@facstaff.wisc.edu
Subject: Nested Hierarchy- a question

Sir,

I am hoping you could settle some confusion. On your webpage about hierarchies, http://www.isss.org/hierarchy.htm, you say that an Army command isn't a nested hierarchy because the General does not consist of nor contain the soldiers below him. I understand that.

My question is does a paternal family tree represent a nested hierarchy or a non-nested hierarchy? For example this tree



It seems obvious to me that the same rules that prevent an Army command from being nested also apply to a paternal family tree.

Could you please clarify this for me.

respectfully,

Joe Gallien


Prof. Allen's reply to Joe G:
Quote
This is not nested. There is a single rule that applies top to bottom, not nesting.

Timothy F. H. Allen
Botany Dept, 430 Lincoln Drive
University of Wisconsin
Madison WI 53706-1381

He seems to have plucked this "single rule" objection out of nowhere.  Yet the very example he gives of a nested hierarchy, an army, also applies a single rule from top to bottom:  "is under the command of":
Quote
Nested and non-nested hierarchies: nested hierarchies involve levels which consist of, and contain, lower levels. Non-nested hierarchies are more general in that the requirement of containment of lower levels is relaxed. For example, an army consists of a collection of soldiers and is made up of them. Thus an army is a nested hierarchy. On the other hand, the general at the top of a military command does not consist of his soldiers and so the military command is a non-nested hierarchy with regard to the soldiers in the army. Pecking orders and a food chains are also non-nested hierarchies.


So yes, the general at the top of the command is not a nested hierarchy, but the army is.  Likewise, Sharif Hussein bin Ali is not a nested hierarchy, but the paternal family tree is.

But to answer your primary question:  Yes, you are blind, for not recognizing the greatness that is Joe Gallien.  He understands everything that humans can do.

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And the set of natural numbers is also the set that starts at 0 and goes to the largest number.  -- Joe G

Please stop putting words into my mouth that don't belong there and thoughts into my mind that don't belong there. -- KF

  
J-Dog



Posts: 4402
Joined: Dec. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 04 2008,07:47   

Quote (keiths @ Mar. 04 2008,03:28)
But to answer your primary question:  Yes, you are blind, for not recognizing the greatness that is Joe Gallien.  He understands everything that humans can do.

Is that before or after you snort a shot of freon?

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Come on Tough Guy, do the little dance of ID impotence you do so well. - Louis to Joe G 2/10

Gullibility is not a virtue - Quidam on Dembski's belief in the Bible Code Faith Healers & ID 7/08

UD is an Unnatural Douchemagnet. - richardthughes 7/11

  
Richardthughes



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Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 04 2008,10:12   

I've invited Professor MacNeill here to join in the discussion. His blog has a great list of evolutionary mechanisms:

http://evolutionlist.blogspot.com/2007....an.html

--------------
"Richardthughes, you magnificent bastard, I stand in awe of you..." : Arden Chatfield
"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
"ATBC poster child", "I have to agree with Rich.." : DaveTard
"I bow to your superior skills" : deadman_932
"...it was Richardthughes making me lie in bed.." : Kristine

  
J-Dog



Posts: 4402
Joined: Dec. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 04 2008,11:20   

Quote (Richardthughes @ Mar. 04 2008,10:12)
I've invited Professor MacNeill here to join in the discussion. His blog has a great list of evolutionary mechanisms:

http://evolutionlist.blogspot.com/2007....an.html

Richard - Have you shown him your latest chart yet?

And he's still coming over here?

Now THAT is dedication to edumacation and sciencey stuff!

Way to go Dr. MacNeill.

Actually way to go Richard.  It's guys like you that make guys like me look like something on the bottom of DaveScot's endangered - alligator boots.  I can't even get a YEC from ERV's site to come over here!

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Come on Tough Guy, do the little dance of ID impotence you do so well. - Louis to Joe G 2/10

Gullibility is not a virtue - Quidam on Dembski's belief in the Bible Code Faith Healers & ID 7/08

UD is an Unnatural Douchemagnet. - richardthughes 7/11

  
Richardthughes



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 04 2008,11:22   

"Invited" and "accepted" are a bit different! Hope he visits, though.

--------------
"Richardthughes, you magnificent bastard, I stand in awe of you..." : Arden Chatfield
"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
"ATBC poster child", "I have to agree with Rich.." : DaveTard
"I bow to your superior skills" : deadman_932
"...it was Richardthughes making me lie in bed.." : Kristine

  
Zachriel



Posts: 2709
Joined: Sep. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 04 2008,12:22   

Quote
Zachriel: Does a paternal family tree or even a typical spreading chestnut tree constitute a nested hierarchy (assuming suitable set categorizations)?

 
Quote
It depends on the level of analysis, so the answer is yes and no. A military hierarchy is a nested command structure. On the other hand, the general does not consist of, nor is derivable from the army. In the nested hierarchy of the army on the ground, he is just another soldier. So as always, it depends.


 
Quote
Joe G: It depends on if the person making the claim is a complete loser- like you... But thanks for demonstrating that you have all the credibility of a crack-whore.


Joe G just called Professor Allen a crack-whore. The question and answer is verbatum from a discussion I had with Prof. Allen in 2006. I have informed Joe G this, but that particular comment has not made it through moderation yet. I wouldn't want Professor Allen's comments to remain unattributed.

{xposted to The Joe G Thread}

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Proudly banned three four five times by Uncommon Descent.
There is only one Tard. The Tard is One.

   
Zachriel



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Joined: Sep. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 04 2008,12:37   

Quote (Bob O'H @ Mar. 04 2008,03:14)
   
Quote
I fail to see the difference between Professor Allen's army and a family (grouped by paternity).  Am I blind?

Nope.  Or at least I am too.

I think the point a out the army is subtle, and the description doesn't do it justice.  

If by a tree limb we mean a thick piece of wood or timber, then a tree limb is not a nested hierarchy. If by a tree limb, we mean when we cut it, then all the associated branches and stems fall to the ground with it, then we are talking about a nested hierarchy. (As opposed to a spider's web wherein if we cut an arbitrary strand it will probably not have much effect.)

General Pickett is not a nested hierarchy. But Pickett's Division is, Pickett being a soldier in Pickett's Division.

A patriarch is not a nested hierarchy. And if we group men with their sons, it's still not a nested hierarchy. But when Abraham and Isaac and Solomon look down the ages at their male descendents, then we have a nested hierarchy.

This might be an issue in some cases, I suppose, especially if we are trying to make specific derivations. But when we look at a tree, as long as we group the twigs by the associated branch and limb, we have a nested hierarchy.

--------------
Proudly banned three four five times by Uncommon Descent.
There is only one Tard. The Tard is One.

   
Allen_MacNeill



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Joined: April 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 04 2008,12:50   

Allen MacNeill, here:

Vis-a-vis the list of "evolutionary mechanisms" at my blog (http://evolutionlist.blogspot.com/2007/10/rm-ns-creationist-and-id-strawman.html):

Actually, the list is intended mostly as a compendium of all of the major mechanisms known that cause phenotypic variation in populations. As Darwin first pointed out, evolution by natural selection has three prerequisites:

1) Variety: there must be real differences between individuals in a population;

2) Heredity: some of these variations must be heritable. Darwin said from parents to offspring (i.e. "vertical" heredity), but recent analyses indicate that "horizontal" heredity (via transformation, viral transduction, and some neo-Lamarkian processes – see Jablonka & Lam/2007/Evolution in Four Dimensions) are also valid mechanisms of heredity; and

3) Fecundity: individuals must reproduce, generally at a rate that exceeds replacement. Given these three prerequisites, the following outcome is virtually inevitable:

4) Non-random, unequal survival and reproduction – what Darwin called "natural selection."

The list at my blog was mostly concerned with the first of the prerequisites listed above; that is, the sources of variation between individuals in populations. As I pointed out in my blog, creationists (including IDers) generally refer to the theory of evolution (ToE) as consisting entirely of "random mutation and natural selection" (RM & NS). What my blog post was intended to illustrate was that neither of these are the case. Random mutation (defined the way most creationists define it, as single nucleotide point mutations in DNA) is only one (and not the most important) mechanism for producing variation within populations. There are at least 46 more, and each can be further subdivided into different, but related mechanisms.

Furthermore, natural selection isn't the only outcome of the three prerequisites. As any good evolutionary biologist knows, there are at least two other major processes – sexual selection (which some evolutionary biologists, including myself, consider to be functionally separate from simple natural selection) and random genetic drift (a la Sewall Wright). This leaves out other less common processes, such as meiotic drive, which also qualify as outcomes of the three prerequisites, but occur under more restricted circumstances.

Vis-a-vis "nested hierarchies":

It is the case that a general in an army cannot himself be a "nested hierarchy", but that is a logically trivial point. It is also the case that an army is clearly a nested hierarchy, and that a general commanding an army is part of that hierarchy, just like the pope is part of the nested hierarchy of the Roman Catholic church (from whence we originally got the term "hierarchy", by the way; the pope is the "hierophant" of the catholic "hierarchy").

Biological systems are perhaps the most obvious and paradigmatic examples of nested hierarchies in the natural world. However, they are not "perfect" nested hierarchies, at least at the level of gene sequences, as there is apparently a lot of pretty promiscuous horizontal gene transfer going on, even between kingdoms (e.g. bacteria and animals, even humans), which as Ford Doolittle has pointed out makes a single-rooted "tree of life" quite implausible.

Personally, I like to refer to life on Earth as the "mangrove of life", as there was apparently a lot of diversity fairly early one, with lots of horizontal gene transfer, followed by a "constriction" within the multicellular eukaryotes (probably as a result of the complexities of meiotic cell division), followed by another radiation into the four kingdoms (Protoctista, Fungi, Plantae, and Animalia).

  
C.J.O'Brien



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Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 04 2008,13:33   

Hey, thanks for posting, prof. MacNeill. Interested lay-person here.

If I may, I'd like to ask about this:
Quote
sexual selection (which some evolutionary biologists, including myself, consider to be functionally separate from simple natural selection)

and what you mean by "functionally separate"?

I have always conceptualized natural selection (the fundamental logic of which you summarize above) as a general, substrate-neutral process that will operate whenever the conditions of heritable variation exist and where variant traits affect fitness and environmental resources are limited. If natural selection is conceived broadly this way, then "sexual selection" is natural selection where the most salient feature of the environment is the behavior of conspecifics, specifically with regard to (usually female) mate choice. Similarly "artificial selection" is natural selection where the most salient feature of the environment is the behavior of a more or less intelligent species with regard to the tendency to value certain traits more than others.

I don't doubt there are good reasons, but would you mind explaining what my sketch misses, and perhaps what is the utility to Evolutionary Biologists of considering sexual selection as inherently distinct from a more general phenomenon?

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The is the beauty of being me- anything that any man does I can understand.
--Joe G

  
Allen_MacNeill



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Joined: April 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 04 2008,15:02   

There are circumstances in which sexual selection (especially the kind of "runaway" sexual selection described by R. A. Fisher) can result in characteristics that lower the "survivability" of the sex undergoing such selection. For example, the extraordinarily long tails of some male birds are clearly the result of female choice, and just as clearly decrease the flying ability of such males. Amotz Zahavi might argue that this "handicap" simply adds to the male's desirability in the eyes of potential mates, but some detailed field experiments have shown that longer tails, while increasing the "desirability" of males, also can significantly lower their "survivability".  

In other words, natural selection (i.e. differential survival and reproduction) can have outcomes that are opposed to sexual selection (i.e. differential reproduction alone), and vice-versa. If one defines natural selection broadly enough it subsumes sexual selection, but I believe that there is utility in analyzing them separately.

  
Raevmo



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Joined: Oct. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 04 2008,15:26   

Hi Allen, you said

Quote
In other words, natural selection (i.e. differential survival and reproduction) can have outcomes that are opposed to sexual selection (i.e. differential reproduction alone), and vice-versa. If one defines natural selection broadly enough it subsumes sexual selection, but I believe that there is utility in analyzing them separately.


I disagree. Sexual selection is "natural" and I would classify it as a (distinct) subset of natural selection. Sexual selection is not just female choice - there's also intra-sexual selection due to competition between males or females over access to mates. This blurs into competition over territories and food, so there's no clear demarcation between sexual selection and what you call "natural" selection.

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After much reflection I finally realized that the best way to describe the cause of the universe is: the great I AM.

--GilDodgen

  
Allen_MacNeill



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Joined: April 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 04 2008,15:52   

You are correct; the distinction is primarily semantic, rather than operational. Ultimately, as every evolutionary biologist knows, what matters is number of offspring per individual, relative to everybody else. That's why "fitness" is defined as "reproductive success" - it does an individual no good to survive if they don't reproduce.

  
Henry J



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Joined: Mar. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 04 2008,19:18   

Hierarchy = groups within groups within groups ... within groups.

What's not to understand? :)

Henry

  
JonF



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 05 2008,07:21   

John Harshman has what I consider to be a good definition:

 
Quote
A nested hierarchy is a set of groups within groups, within which there are no partially overlapping groups: groups are either wholly disjunct or one is wholly contained within the other. This sort of hierarchy can be unambiguously represented as a branching tree with elements at the tips.


Source

  
blipey



Posts: 2061
Joined: June 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 05 2008,10:33   

Quote (JonF @ Mar. 05 2008,07:21)
John Harshman has what I consider to be a good definition:

 
Quote
A nested hierarchy is a set of groups within groups, within which there are no partially overlapping groups: groups are either wholly disjunct or one is wholly contained within the other. This sort of hierarchy can be unambiguously represented as a branching tree with elements at the tips.


Source

Right.  All the objections that JoeG has boil down to logically trivial points.  A person cannot be a nested hierarchy in and of himself.  Duh.

And as Zachriel stated, a random grouping of fathers and sons would not necessarily constitute a nested hierarchy.  However, there is nothing that prevents you from being able to construct a nested hierarchy based on paternal descent.

The "one rule" thing seems trivial to me as well (though I may still be misunderstanding its intent).  While you could arbitrarily assign many rules to the structure of an army:

1.  Must be under the command of one and only one unit directly above its level

2.  Must not be under direct command of a unit not one level above it.

3.  Must not be under the command of any unit a level below it.

4.  etc.

This is really summed up with one rule: "is under the direct command of one and only one unit."

That JoeG fails to address this point or even mention the direct correlation between armies being made up of soldiers and families being made up of people, shows his dishonesty in spades.

--------------
But I get the trick question- there isn't any such thing as one molecule of water. -JoeG

And scientists rarely test theories. -Gary Gaulin

   
Zachriel



Posts: 2709
Joined: Sep. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 06 2008,09:36   

Quote (blipey @ Mar. 05 2008,10:33)
<snip>

That JoeG fails to address this point or even mention the direct correlation between armies being made up of soldiers and families being made up of people, shows his dishonesty in spades.

I have found that nearly all such ID misunderstandings are based in very simple concepts. They either don't understand the scientific method, basic patterns, simple probability, or even more fundamentally, how we categorize and define things. You can spend all day talking about taxonomy and belatedly discover that you are not actually talking about the same thing at all!

Joe G is hung up on his idea of the nested hierarchy. We could simply define an "Abraham" (after the Biblical patriarch) as an ordered set such that each subset is strictly contained within its superset. Then build our biological taxonomy based on "Abes". But the ability to make and use definitions is something well beyond Joe G's comprehension—his misunderstandings being that fundamental.

Joe G's an extreme case, but this is typical among IDers.

--------------
Proudly banned three four five times by Uncommon Descent.
There is only one Tard. The Tard is One.

   
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