Re: The evolution of "evolution"

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Mon 03 Oct 2005 - 11:38:08 GMT

  • Next message: Derek Gatherer: "Re: The evolution of "evolution""

    --- Derek Gatherer <> wrote:

    > Ted
    > To be specific, you commit two kinds of errors in
    > your essay:
    > 1) misrepresentation of neo-Darwinism
    > 2) premature declaration that some kind of
    > "memory" theory would 'explain' ontogenesis
    > The grossest misrepresentation of neo-Darwinism
    > (there are several more minor ones) is in your
    > use of Hoyle's fallacy. For instance,
    > "The Hyacinth macaw can crack a nut with its beak
    > that you or I would need a sledgehammer to open.
    > Is all that colossal strength nothing more than a
    > side-effect of a chance mutation in the macaw’s
    > genetic toolkit? How many millions of such coding
    > mistakes had to come and go before the right one
    > announced itself, and at last the bird got its
    > meal?"
    > and again later:
    > "Like a toy in a cereal box, every defining trait
    > of every species on Earth comes with a special
    > mutation hidden inside. Genes, you might say,
    > work in mysterious ways. We don’t know why the
    > right mutation comes along at the right moment­it
    > just does!"
    > and again:
    > "What about the creation, from scratch, not from
    > scratch of trillion-celled furry animals with big
    > ears and buck teeth? Apparently, DNA is the one
    > thing that really can pull a rabbit out of its hat."
    > No scientist proposes any of the above 3
    > scenarios. None ever has - even the
    > "mutationists" of the 1920s had a much more
    > refined and sophisticated view than the one you
    > claim we have today. Mutationism went out the
    > window when Fisher showed that Mendelian genetics
    > did after all fit natural selection.
    > As for "memory" explaining ontogenesis, I
    > suggest you take a look inside the pages of
    > journals like "Developmental Biology",
    > "Development", "Mechanisms of Development" or
    > "Genes & Development". Enormous strides have
    > been made since the mid-80s in understanding
    > things like limb and axial development at the
    > molecular genetic level.
    > A lot of your problem is that you're not up to
    > date on the subject you are professing to critique.
    Didn't Mendel send Darwin a copy of his work on pea plant trait transmissions between generations? Ed Larson talks about this in his audio version of _The Theory of Evolution: a History of Controversy_. I've heard this before. So if Darwin had received a copy of Mendel's work, yet had taken the time to actually read and grasp the significance of Mendel's work, one could only wonder what changes Darwin would have made to his ideas about inheritance.

    Yet, wasn't Mendel aware of Darwin's work?

    Mendel was well ahead of Darwin (and Ted) when it comes to understanding the transmission of traits
    (ontogenetically significant factors). The only reservations I have are for the overly simpistic one gene : one trait views. Development is often far more complicated than simplistic 1:1 mapping implies, but nonetheless doesn't need paranormal phenomena to explain it.

    Organic memory is dead on the vine, but has historic significance for memetics because of the memory-heredity analogy.

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