Re: The evolution of "evolution"

From: Derek Gatherer (
Date: Tue 25 Oct 2005 - 09:56:51 GMT

  • Next message: Dace: "Re: The evolution of "evolution""

    At 22:03 24/10/2005, Dace wrote:

    >other people
    >would have
    > > seen the same thing. I did cell culture for nearly 2 years, and I never
    > > anything like that.
    >You can't see what you're not looking for. In fact, you literally can't see
    >influence passed between physically separated cultures for the simple reason
    >that it's not visible.

    No, the reason why nobody can see signals passed between separate flasks of cells is that it simply doesn't happen. But then considering you believe that long deceased dinosaurs are still signalling to us from the Jurassic, I suppose for you it is a perfectly reasonable proposition.

    >As cell biologist Stephen Rothman points out, if you provide evidence that
    >reductionism can't provide a coherent explanation (e.g. in the case of
    >protein movement) reductionists simply dismiss the evidence as flawed. In
    >this way their beliefs become unfalsifiable. What this demonstrates is that
    >many scientists are ruled by the reductionistic meme more than the
    >scientific method.

    Rothman is a reductionist - he says so in his book. What he is opposed to is "strong micro-reductionism", as am I and as is almost every biologist I know (see Cohen and Stewart's "Collapse of Chaos"). This is the same kind of anti-science tactic used by the creationists - identify a healthy disagreement within science and attempt to twist it to claim that science is crumbling.

    >Reductionism rests on the common sense notion of contact mechanics between
    >visible components. This is not a scientific concept but a deeply
    >ingrained, widely distributed habit of thought, i.e. a highly successful

    Reductionism is about cause and effect, that's all. The Victorians thought brains were probably like very sophisticated steam engines; today we liken them to computers. The mechanical analogies are always going to be rubbish, but that doesn't mean that effects have no causes.

    >The reductionistic hypothesis is more complex and
    >unwieldy insofar as it assumes that genes possess all the information
    >required to build an organism and that they possesses the magical power to
    >compute precisely how they must combine to bring about this stupendously
    >improbable event.

    No, enough Hoyle's fallacy! You keep going on about this even though I keep correcting you. How improbable is it that one person will win a series of say, 10, coin tosses in a row? See Dennett's "Darwin's Dangerous Idea" for the answer (given the correct circumstances, it's 100% certain). Try Dawkins "The Blind Watchmaker" while you're at it. It's only improbable if you have to start from scratch, and organisms never have to start from scratch.

    >And how does [Aspergillus] remember its billion year ancestral
    >history? Is the
    >knowledge divided into bits of information stored in its genes?

    It doesn't have to "remember". There is no "memory" requiring to be recalled. Does a motor car have memory of its ancestry from the Ford Model T? The second question is a non-question because it's about something that doesn't exist.

    >Given that
    >the correct sequence of combinations in the timing of penicillin production
    >is transcalculational, how can all that information fit?

    No, I told you before, that simply is not true. It's not transcalculational at all. If biosynthetic processes were transcalculational, biochemistry in vitro would be impossible, as how could a poor human chemist possibly do such things in his/her head? Louis Pasteur demonstrated in about 1858 if I recall correctly, that there is no reason why biochemical pathways cannot be reconstructed in the test tube. He started with alcohol synthesis using enzymes purified from yeast, which the vitalists of the time claimed could only be done in yeast - they believed that one could not possibly reduce the infinite complexity of such a thing to a simple interaction between one enzyme and one substrate. Come on Ted, get up to date with the 1860s! Don't you know that Abraham Lincoln is president now?

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