Re: Aunger vs. Pinker on Galton

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Wed 20 Apr 2005 - 10:55:10 GMT

  • Next message: William Benzon: "Re: Aunger vs. Pinker on Galton"

    --- Derek Gatherer <> wrote:

    > At 00:06 20/04/2005, you wrote:
    > >I'd like your's and
    > >Chris's input into this. Maybe I didn't dive into
    > >cellular biology deep enough where the integral
    > role
    > >of ribosomes is unmasked. I always thought that
    > >ribosomes were where mRNA is translated into
    > peptides.
    > >I pretty sure DNA polymerases play a role in
    > >replication, but not ribosomes.
    > What does Aunger say about this? Even if he is
    > wrong about the biology,
    > that doesn't necessarily mean that what he has to
    > say about cultural
    > evolution is wrong, only that some other things
    > slipped through the
    > editorial net.
    I've already posted recently on this, but here it goes again. On page 86 of _The Electric Meme_ (hardcopy) he says:

    [RA] "Having split lengthwise, the complementary strands of DNA unwind from their three-dimensional form into two more accessible straight lines. At this point, the message of DNA on one side can be read off by ribosomes to produce its complement, which is then tacked on to form a new stretch of DNA." [RA]

    In case you think this might be a fluke, he reprises this theme later adding even more confusion (p. 165):

    [RA] "In particular, ribosomes, which construct DNA in the cytoplasm of cells, are themselves made through a complex process as part of the growth of a cell (which begins when instructions are read from previous bits of DNA)." [RA]

    I have the original hardcopy edition (ISBN: 0743201507, 2002), so maybe he's done better in future editions. I dunno.

    Given what I see are basic errors in fact (eg- Galton's relation to Darwin and the role he ascribes to ribosomes in DNA replication), it makes me wonder what his more conceptual stuff might lack, especially on his "neuromeme". I've even pointed to a failure to adequately address Karl Lashley's work on the enrgam, given from what I've read about Lashley's ideas on the diffuse nature of memory traces and his peculiar notion of reduplication of the engram. Aunger doesn't even list a single paper by Lashley in his index. He cites Hebb, but I'll have to see how thorough he is on the latter proto-cognitivist. I'm presently reading both Lashley and Hebb's classic works, so I'm a little curmudgeonish right now :-(

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