Re: The evolution of "evolution"

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Mon 10 Oct 2005 - 23:21:34 GMT

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

    --- Dace <> wrote:

    > Scott,
    > > - --- Dace <> wrote:
    > >
    > > > I make
    > > > it plain in my article
    > > > that such mutations merely provide the raw
    > material
    > > > for natural selection.
    > > > The question is the source of the variations
    > > > environmentally selected.
    > > >
    > > Provision and source are one and the same here.
    > > Mutation provides variation and it is a source.
    > Mutation is a source of variation, but is it the
    > only source? What about
    > the life experiences of plants and animals? That
    > doesn't count for
    > anything?
    Life experiences die with the organism. If the organism is a member of a social species it might be able to transmit skills to others, including offspring, but that's a separate set of phenomena from genetic transmission. There's tradition and other aspects of culture in the few species that have these capabilities. Species lacking non-genetic means of information transmission are S.O.L.
    > > > Is
    > > > it random mutations in our nuclear
    > "determinants,"
    > > > as Weismann claimed, or
    > > > is it the adaptations made by creatures in the
    > > > course of their lives, as
    > > > Darwin claimed? Clearly, the second accords
    > better
    > > > with common sense. A
    > > > theory that can account for transmission of
    > acquired
    > > > adaptations is
    > > > inherently more plausible than Wiesmann's
    > > > alternative.
    > >
    > > I think you're getting confused about two separate
    > > phenomena. There's variation and there's a
    > selection
    > > process resulting in adaptation(s).
    > I've given no indication that I take variation and
    > selection to be somehow
    > one and the same. My point is that the source of
    > variation-- to be acted on
    > by natural selection-- is primarily the intelligent
    > decisions made by
    > creatures. As Darwin pointed out, animals have a
    > great deal of flexibility
    > in their youth and can re-mold their traits. He
    > speculated that young
    > flat-fish found it advantageous to have their eye
    > sockets higher, and they
    > literally pushed their eyes out so as to have a
    > greater field of vision.
    > The key is that this trait was passed on to future
    > generations. Otherwise
    > the adaptation would have been lost. This is why
    > Darwin staked his entire
    > theory on the ability of organisms to inherit traits
    > acquired through
    > life-struggle by their progenitors. (The reference
    > is in my paper at
    If this is true, Darwin was wrong in his views about heredity. Nobody really had much of a clue during his time what the locus of heredity was. Mendel had stumbled onto the notion of hereditary factors in his experiments with pea plants. He was closest of everyone of that time period. If it's true that Darwin had a copy of Mendel's paper (see Henig's _The Monk in the Garden_) he might have done well to have actually cut the pages and read it, but perhaps his mind wasn't ready to grasp the implications of Mendel's work. Mendel wasn't aware of the full implications. It took the "rediscovery" of Mendel by de Vries and others to get the genetic ball rolling and it took Watson and Crick to borrow Rosalind Franklin's diffraction work and realize what DNA's structure was and what implications there existed for the nascent field of molecular biology. You ignore the hard labors of these pioneers and others merely because they are
    "reductionists" or "mechanists". Much has been done since Darwin's silly idea of pangenesis or Haeckel's parallel nonsense of perigenesis. Why try to resurrect dead ideas?

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