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#15696 - 10/27/06 02:05 AM Re: God & science
terrytnewzealand Offline
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Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 1031
Loc: Whangarei New Zealand
RicS wrote:

'but this idea of a "transitional fossil" seems a bit strange to me.'

In effect every species alive today is either a transitional species or the last species in its line.

Samwick, is that a fact, a belief or a speculative assumption?

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#15697 - 10/27/06 02:45 AM Re: God & science
samwik Offline
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Registered: 10/10/06
Posts: 1164
Loc: Colorado
Quote:
Originally posted by terrytnewzealand:
In effect every species alive today is either a transitional species or the last species in its line.

Samwick, is that a fact, a belief or a speculative assumption?
I think that is a very ingenious way of restating the theory of evolution. smile

~~samwik

P.S. I haven't thought about "belief" yet; maybe if trilobyte would come back, I could explore that also....
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Pyrolysis creates reduced carbon! ...Time for the next step in our evolutionary symbiosis with fire.

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#15698 - 10/27/06 03:23 AM Re: God & science
DA Morgan Offline
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Registered: 10/17/04
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It is FACT!
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#15699 - 10/27/06 03:38 AM Re: God & science
samwik Offline
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Registered: 10/10/06
Posts: 1164
Loc: Colorado
DA,

*******
#5 : ?a piece of information presented as having objective reality?

"information presented as..."
is how science speaks of "facts" that form the foundation of a theory.

vs.

#3 : ?the quality of being actual?
#4 a : ?something that has actual existence?
#4 b : ?an actual occurrence?

which are the common usages;
*******

Do you mean "fact" as used in definition #5?

Thanks,
~samwik
_________________________
Pyrolysis creates reduced carbon! ...Time for the next step in our evolutionary symbiosis with fire.

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#15700 - 10/27/06 04:38 AM Re: God & science
terrytnewzealand Offline
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In effect every species alive today is either a transitional species or the last species in its line.

DA. I'm prepared to play safe and call it a speculative assumption. We could add that there is absolutly no evidence contradicting it and a huge amount supporting it.

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#15701 - 10/27/06 04:54 AM Re: God & science
DA Morgan Offline
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Posts: 4136
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samwik asks:
"Do you mean "fact" as used in definition #5?"

Yes!

Unless you can find something in the universe that does not evolve over time then everything that exists today, whether the galaxy, the solar system, the planet earth, or its inhabitants is either transitional to something different or the last moments before extinction. There is no other choice.

BTW: I put this change to the reality-challenged a few years back so perhaps it is time to put it here again.

Name one physical thing in the universe that is not evolving.

They failed then ... they'll fail now. Change is the rule and there are no exceptions.
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#15702 - 10/27/06 05:02 AM Re: God & science
terrytnewzealand Offline
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Hear, hear.

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#15703 - 10/27/06 05:51 AM Re: God & science
samwik Offline
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Registered: 10/10/06
Posts: 1164
Loc: Colorado
Thank you DA,
I appreciate you taking the time to deal with my nit-picking.

I like this a lot too:
"Name one physical thing in the universe that is not evolving." -DA

Not me, I can't!

It was thoughts along this line that helped me to understand space-time better.

Can something move without the existence of time? If nothing moved (evolved), would time exist? Can time exist without the space to move in?

Thanks for the memories,
~~Samwik smile


...but remember....

"Even though Maldacena's universe was very different from ours, the elegance of the theory suggested that our universe might be something of a grand illusion - an enormous cosmic hologram (New Scientist, 27 April 2002, p 22)."
_________________________
Pyrolysis creates reduced carbon! ...Time for the next step in our evolutionary symbiosis with fire.

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#15704 - 10/27/06 07:12 AM Re: God & science
samwik Offline
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Registered: 10/10/06
Posts: 1164
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Quote:
Originally posted by RicS:
G'day Sam,

I've been trying quite hard to get what you are suggesting in this thread but can't quite wrap my head around it.

Why should you need to get a new theory if two incompatable explanations of evidence exist, for instance? Could it be that one of the two works fine but there is just more evidence that has yet to be uncovered or because of circumstance that evidence is lost.

Dinosaurs went extinct because of a meteor. It fits a great deal of the evidence but not all of it. Trouble is that it is possible that it, and other explanations might be all partly correct, or the meteor one is completely correct but the evidence is gone. 65 million years has been enough to wipe out the primary evidence so all that is left is speculation.

I think I understand your point about scientists making assumptions. It's actually amazing that when peer review occurs to many scientific papers, the basic assumptions are rarely questioned. Sometimes that's because everyone thinks those assumptions are well settled. But at other times I really have to wonder. Is this something like what you are getting at?

I was given a paper two days ago by a scientist in Britain that did a considerable amount of research demonstrating that Urban Effect had no real influence on the world's average temperature records over the last century or so. The assumptions he started with where truly breathtaking in their lack of support but they were not challenged anywhere. One assumption was that urban effect had to be greater on the warmest days. Sounds logical but there was no imperical data to back this up. Another was that urban effect would effect temperatures by a negligible amount on windy days. This one was the basis of the whole paper, yet there was no attempt to support the assumption at all. An assumption that I would suggest really made the whole thing a wasted exercise was that prevailing winds due to major weather patterns could be relied upon to establish that a particular day in a particular city was windy (this was done because the data that was available generally does not include wind intensity at all and even if it does it does not generally record it at the time of minimum temperature). His examination of the records showed that weather patterns for China actually caused the cities to warm up when he had assumed they would cool down yet even this did not cause him to wonder whether the assumption was correct.

I started thinking of simple physics experiments and a block of warm concrete. What would this do to air circulation? If there was a fan set up to blow across the block, would the warmth of the block change the air flow? Would the movement of air cause the block's extra temperature to drop to the surrounding ambient temperature in a short time? Think of a city on a winter's day. From studies of Berlin's urban effect and what it does to night time temperatures, to winter's days and nights etc, the assumptions actually didn't hold up all that well, but this paper was submitted to a professor who found no fault with the assumptions. It obtained funding and no one questioned the assumptions. It was peer reviewed and no one questioned the assumptions. It is now used as a the primary paper by a very large institute for many other research projects as their reference why urban effect has minimal effect on temperature and therefore does not need to be considered. And during all of this not one person thought to question the basic assumptions that the author used to base the whole paper on.

Interestingly, I was having quite a pleasant email chat with the professor mentioned about problems with data. The conversation abruptly ended when I made the comment that I wondered about the assumptions made in the paper in question and whether there was any observations made by others on which the author could rely.

I know this is in the wrong topic but I'm using an example that I understand to see if this is what Sam's underlying supposition is. What is a "fact"? Is that a similar query to why do scientists seem to use assumptions for studies when there is little or no evidence to back up that assumption? And how far do we go? Do we have to take every scientific discussion back to the basic principals and ensure that each is valid before we can build on it, or is it safe to assume that these "facts" are, well, "facts"?

Sam, is this close to what you are putting across? Or am I really off the track?


Richard
I finally got to read this -mostly. but i'm having computer problems so will finish and try again later.

But yes, I think this is all right on what i'm gettng at. Except first part maybe; -but later

Thanks mucho all,
~~Sam
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Pyrolysis creates reduced carbon! ...Time for the next step in our evolutionary symbiosis with fire.

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#15705 - 10/27/06 07:34 AM Re: God & science
Te Urukehu Offline
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Registered: 09/08/06
Posts: 51
Loc: Aotearoa
In terms of evolution surely it is a grand illusion. Superficially, the appearance of things change over time - but the underlying matter that constitute the fundamentals of the phenomenological world of our perceptions remain the same
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#15706 - 10/27/06 07:58 AM Re: God & science
samwik Offline
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Registered: 10/10/06
Posts: 1164
Loc: Colorado
So far, so good.

Yes, very often our facts are "presented as" reality, but....

And these are usually the very basic assumptions.

I'm not saying we have to re-check every assumption every time we make an observation or whatever.

There is a whole spectrum from hypothesis to "~truth" (gratis -see "theories" thread); that is, theories that are so well established as to be considered true or "a fact." As such, they form the basis for many other provisional theories (not yet gratis), weak or competing theories and hypotheses.

Regarding your above post, the beginning and up thru the dinosaur part is addressing the level of hypothesis or weak/competing theory. In that area not to many are demanding "facts" be acknowledged as absolute.

But when a theory such as evolution or relativity rises to that level of being gratis --Generally Recognized As True, in situ (in a given situation/reality) then the basic assumptions are also much more fundamental.

So what's my point? Um, let me get back to that later?

Briefly? In certain circumstances (in certain situations) it may be appropriate to acknowledge that those basic assumptions are not necessarily facts in the most ultimate sense (even though we are so used to thinking of them as ultimately true in most situations). For instance, in a discussion about religion or in a discussion about cosmology, questioning basic assumptions shouldn't be out of the question.

Maybe a better way to say it would be that if the basic assumptions or fundamental reality can't be agreed upon, then discussion is gonna be hard.

Just being aware of the ultimate limitations of knowledge can allow one to (while remaining confident in your belief that your basic assumptions are safe) try a 'thought experiment' where you provisionally adopt the other's basic assumptions. It can be very educatioinal and mentally empowering.

Okay, enough for now; computer calm -maybe too calm.

Thanks again,
Later,
~~Samwik


"Even though Maldacena's universe was very different from ours, the elegance of the theory suggested that our universe might be something of a grand illusion - an enormous cosmic hologram (New Scientist, 27 April 2002, p 22)."
_________________________
Pyrolysis creates reduced carbon! ...Time for the next step in our evolutionary symbiosis with fire.

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#15707 - 10/27/06 08:11 PM Re: God & science
DA Morgan Offline
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Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
TU wrote:
"In terms of evolution surely it is a grand illusion. Superficially, the appearance of things change over time - but the underlying matter that constitute the fundamentals of the phenomenological world of our perceptions remain the same"

Surely you jest. You don't have the same atoms in you right now you have 3 seconds ago. There is no illusion at work here. Evolution is the only reality.
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DA Morgan

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#15708 - 10/27/06 10:31 PM Re: God & science
samwik Offline
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Registered: 10/10/06
Posts: 1164
Loc: Colorado
Hi DA,
I don't think anyone is trying to say that evolution is wrong or invalid (just because our fundamental assumptions of reality MAY be based on an illusion). As a tool, the theory works just fine (for the reality that we perceive).

You said "Evolution is the only reality." -DA

Do you believe the same for Relativity Theory?

Thanks,
~samwik
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Pyrolysis creates reduced carbon! ...Time for the next step in our evolutionary symbiosis with fire.

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#15709 - 10/27/06 10:35 PM Re: God & science
DA Morgan Offline
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Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
Relativity and quantum mechanics are the rules under which evolution occurs.

What they describe is the evolution of systems. Some macroscopic ... some microscopic.
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#15710 - 10/27/06 11:30 PM Re: God & science
samwik Offline
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Registered: 10/10/06
Posts: 1164
Loc: Colorado
But relativity and quantum mechanics are mutually incompatible. They have conflicting basic assumptions and describe conflicting realities.

My point in referring to theories as "tools," is that they work for our purposes; and that should be the extent to which we rely on a theory's power.

As to their description of "true reality," maybe this is some sort of grand illusion. Maybe really we're just sitting on the back of an elephant being sucked into a black hole (re: your 10/26 post: "Can you Wrap your Mind..." http://www.newscientistspace.com/article/mg19225751.200-the-elephant-and-the-event-horizon.html ).
?or as I put it, ?a 4-D bubble on an anti-DeSitter membrane in 8-space, being sucked into a black hole.? **

Thanks,
~samwik

**from the post on ?not-quite-sci.?, ?Expanding Universe,? 10/16, 10:53 PM
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#15711 - 10/28/06 08:17 PM Re: God & science
DA Morgan Offline
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Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
samwik wrote:
"But relativity and quantum mechanics are mutually incompatible."

True. But that doesn't stop each, in its own realm, from giving a very good description and prediction with respect to the evolution of a system.

We are the elephant. We are part of the universe. A part that is conscious of its own existence. And we are just desparately trying to comprehend our environment and our condition.
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#15712 - 10/28/06 10:25 PM Re: God & science
Te Urukehu Offline
Member

Registered: 09/08/06
Posts: 51
Loc: Aotearoa
While relativity and quantum physics may appear incompatible to us now - that does not necessarily infer that they are indeed incompatible.

I would think Science has many more discoveries to make before it can disseminate with confidence an essential theory of incompatibility.

I however believe that Science will more likely discover the angle of compatibility that underpins and therefore binds the two theoretical realms together - taking humanity one step closer to a truth.
_________________________
Darkness is but the sum total of Creation inclusive of the Light.

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#15713 - 10/31/06 12:19 AM Re: God & science
anyman Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/18/04
Posts: 134
sam,

just a quick note to say i'm not shinin' you on...i need to do some catch up over here on several threads

i spent all night messin' around here (while getting some other things done)

i'll make a serious effort to get to some of this in the next few days

later gator :-)

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#15714 - 11/10/06 06:43 PM Re: God & science
samwik Offline
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Registered: 10/10/06
Posts: 1164
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Sorry to be gone so long, but looks like anyman is still busy too; so....

...from previous page, this thread:

""My point in referring to theories as "tools," is that they work for our purposes; and that should be the extent to which we rely on a theory's power.

As to their description of "true reality," maybe this is some sort of grand illusion. Maybe really we're just sitting on the back of an elephant being sucked into a black hole (re: your 10/26 post: "Can you Wrap your Mind..." <http://www.newscientistspace.com/article/mg19225751.200-the-elephant-and-the-event-horizon.html> ).
?or as I put it, ?a 4-D bubble on an anti-DeSitter membrane in 8-space, being sucked into a black hole.? **
** ...from the post on ?not-quite-sci.?, ?Expanding Universe,? 10/16, 10:53 PM

Thanks,
~samwik""

...and....

Quoted from: Can you wrap your mind around this?
DA: That was an excellent conclusion (along with Te's) for the God&science thread, but I just had to clarify my take on this analogy used on that thread. It seemed too off-topic over there, but is much more on-topic here (if not too picky).


?According to Bob, the elephant went through and floated along happily for eons until it turned into spaghetti.? -from the NewScientist link above-

Just to clarify (although I?m sure we?re both partially wrong), I see it as if we are ?Bob? riding along with the elephant (the universe, or 4-D bubble) as it is sucked into the event horizon, floating happily along it?s trajectory (the anti-deSitter membrane) toward the singularity, stretching ?for eons until it [the universe/elephant] turned into spaghetti.?

Long live the Flying Spaghetti Monster!

Out in 8-space, Alice (God) is watching curiously, as we are, as you say, ?desperately trying to comprehend our environment and our condition.?

Long may we ride the FSM!

*_* END Quoted from: Can you wrap your mind around this?

...so....

To recall the meat of this thread, page 5 would be a good review. I've included some relavent comments above, from a simultaneous thread.
I had written this post below back on the 28th-29th but never did post it (computer problems, etc.).
It still seems like a good wrap-up.
Any Comments? ~still welcome
~S
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#15715 - 11/10/06 06:45 PM Re: God & science
samwik Offline
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Registered: 10/10/06
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...so....

To recall the meat of this thread, page 5 would be a good review. I've included some relavent comments above, from a simultaneous thread.
I had written this post below back on the 28th-29th but never did post it (computer problems, etc.).
It still seems like a good wrap-up.
Any Comments????

The whole reason for starting this thread was to point out the futility of arguing for or against a theory, if the BASIC ASSUMPTIONS are not agreed upon.

?By trilobyte's reasoning there are no such thing as "facts". Even the idea the sun will rise tomorrow is not a fact. All is relative.? -ttnz
?But science makes some basic assumptions.? -RicS
Once we agree on the basic assumptions, then we can argue over what some particular evidence reveals or refutes. However, if the basic assumptions aren?t accepted, why even bother to challenge some aspect or claim of a theory?

A theory isn?t reality; and it may bear no relation to true reality at all (or it may be a very close approximation of ?true reality?), but that doesn?t matter. A theory is only a tool that allows for ? [well, we?ve said all this before].
I?ve never understood why a simple tool should threaten someone else?s worldview or philosophy of life. I think it?s because they think the theory is a competing worldview (a competing belief in what true reality is); and they don?t see a theory as just a simple, elegant tool that is pretty much independent of true reality (because of its dependence on basic assumptions).

?The TOE is a useful [tool] theory because its predictions are accurate. Creationism is a useless [tool] hypothesis, because it predicts NOTHING.? -soilguy11:48
?This is how creationism fails as a scientific hypothesis [tool]. It cannot be refuted. On the other hand, evolution [the tool] WOULD be refuted if the genomes of similar creatures were very different.? -soilguy7:08
I?m not voting for or against, but I think creationism could be called a theory, but [as with all theories] ONLY WITHIN THE CONTEXT of its basic assumptions (which makes it a very weak theory for scientific purposes).

Which brings me back to the reason for this thread.
?It's important that you understand what a fact is to a scientist before you assert what is and what is not a fact.? -TFF8:45
By zeroing in on trilobyte?s use of the word fact (or FACT as it was so often put), I was hoping to get to the underlying difference in our basic or founding assumptions (or as trilobyte so often put it, ?speculative assumptions.?

Sure, speculative assumptions generate speculative theories
We can grant that they are speculative; but they work soooo well! (for us, as tools, within their context). My point being, that regardless of one?s worldview, using a tool should not invalidate the worldview, even if the basic assumptions of the tool [theory] conflict with the basic assumptions of the worldview. For instance, I might believe the world was created by God 4000 years ago, but I can still use a tool [ some theory that assumes a geologic timescale] in order to examine and better understand my home planet; or I might have a Newtonian worldview, but still use Einstein to study the cosmos.

I understand that many people form a worldview that is entirely consistent with scientific theories, but that doesn?t mean it?s the only valid worldview. Worldview is so subjective (speculative?) and it doesn?t necessarily have to be very practical. Theories, on the other hand, do need to be objective and practical.

The intense confidence that scientists hold regarding their elegant, internally consistent, well vetted theories, is the same as the intense confidence that deeply religious people feel about their elegant, internally consistent, well vetted religions.
Arguing which is better is a purely subjective measure of utility and scope because things are still viewed from within their own context.

I may be overstating the absoluteness of polarity, but I don?t think I?m making a mountain out of a molehill either. Religion & science are relative opposites of great magnitude because the basic, founding assumptions are so fundamentally different.
But a religion usually is a worldview also. You don?t find people believing in more than one religious system. A theory shouldn?t be a worldview, though it might easily contribute to one. In science it is common to believe in competing theories. I believe in both Newton?s and Einstein?s theories as far as they are useful in different contexts, but I have to make allowances for their differing founding assumptions, their inaccuracies, and their lack of completeness in order to accommodate them in my worldview. The Earth is not flat, but for my everyday experience, the flat theory works well enough (I don?t have to calculate curvature when planning a trip across town). The Earth is not a perfect sphere, but in some contexts, the spherical theory works well enough to see patterns and relative relations of global things. I realize each theory works within its context and does not describe ?true reality,? but I can account for their shortcomings and accommodate them in my worldview. Interestingly, for both of the above examples, none of the four theories would be sufficient for a detailed examination of gravity.

So creationists shouldn?t argue scientific points or facts if they don?t buy into the basic assumptions, but they shouldn?t feel threatened either; because similarly, no one should challenge a religious point, if they don?t buy into the basic religious assumptions. Neither scientists, nor creationists should be self-righteous, but neither should they be discounted; both can be very useful within their particular context.


Now if you want to argue about basic assumptions, that?s fair game and another matter entirely, for which I have no definite opinion; except maybe, each to his own.

I?m not advocating anything here except tolerance, hopefully the result of a better understanding of our conceptual capabilities and our semantic limitations.


For a good way to close, the slightly altered tagline for Rascal Puff #1009
sounds appropriate:
?Modern day Finalized Reality is like a bus schedule - there'll be another one along shortly. Present day [theories] are often perceived and presented as [facts].?

?They keep me happy, and able to make sense of my world without much thought about it.? -RicS1:18
In the end, isn?t that all anyone is trying to do?

Thanks,
~~samwik
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Pyrolysis creates reduced carbon! ...Time for the next step in our evolutionary symbiosis with fire.

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