From: Dace (email@example.com)
Date: Fri 14 Oct 2005 - 20:45:58 GMT
> > 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.
There's a difference between an established fact of science and a belief
commonly held among scientifically-minded people.
> 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.
I contend that in order to make sense of evolution, we must posit a third
form of transmission which is biological but not genetic.
> > 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
> > www.skepticalinvestigations.org).
> 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.
Darwin was well aware of the concept that a kind of blueprint exists in our
"germ-plasm" which is transmitted from parent to progeny. Alterations in this blueprint would then result in alterations in the developing organism. But it that's all there is to heredity and development, then we ought to find a great many "monsters" in nature bearing organs out of proportion to their bodies. "We may infer that, when any part or organ is either greatly increased in size or wholly suppressed through variation and continued selection, the coordinating power of the organization will continually tend to bring again all the parts into harmony with each other." (Darwin, *The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication* London: Murray, 1875, Vol 2, p. 354)
The history of genetics has validated Darwin's insight. It's now understood
that the one-gene-one-phenotype model is incorrect, that many genes work in
concert to generate a particular phenotypic effect. We have no reason to
assume that such coordination follows blind, mechanistic principles, any
more than we can assume that genes comprise the whole of developmental
> 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".
Not in the least. As Elsasser points out, holistic memory is complementary
to genetic transmission.
> Much has been done
> since Darwin's silly idea of pangenesis or Haeckel's
> parallel nonsense of perigenesis. Why try to resurrect
> dead ideas?
Who says I'm trying to resurrect pangenesis? Darwin's error here was to
rely on contact mechanics to account for how acquired traits are
transmitted. He regretted near the end of his life that his thinking had
become machine-like. This drift into mechanism has been extended, with
catastrophic results, by his successors.
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