From: Dace (email@example.com)
Date: Sun 30 Oct 2005 - 22:10:25 GMT
> At 22:35 27/10/2005, Dace wrote:
> >Contact mechanics among molecular components is
> >assumed to be the basis of all organic events. Since researchers see no
> >reason to look for anything that might contradict this view, they never
> >evidence for holistic causation and take this as confirmation that they
> >right all along.
> You want to pretend that contact mechanics is just an
Not at all. The reality of contact mechanics is verified for me with every
key I strike while composing this post. The assumption is that contact
mechanics accounts for everything under the sun.
> >You may find this proposition odd, but that's not reason enough to
> >it. All the way back to Copernicus science has been showing us that
> >doesn't agree with our ideas of how it should be. If you feel holistic
> >memory is unscientific, you must explain how it contradicts either itself
> >established scientific principles.
> It is an established scientific fact that the development of embryos
> is due to a genetic program working within the egg.
It is an established fact that development of embryos cannot take place
without genes. Necessity and sufficiency.
> >Strong micro-reductionism states that the whole has no attributes that
> >aren't in some way traceable back to the parts. In biology this is
> >expressed in terms of genotype-phenotype. Whatever is observable about
> >organism is derived from information contained in its genes (or the
> >gene/RNA/protein complex).
> Straw man. That sort of thing went out of fashion in the late 60s -
> and even then was only held as a strong null hypothesis.
Oh, yeah? Then where else, in the reductionist theory, do organisms gain
their biological attributes?
> >Part of the confusion here is the precise meaning of science. As Rothman
> >points out, most biologists would regard the phrase "reductionistic
> >as redundant. Same goes for "mechanistic science." In their view,
> >is a process whereby systems are reduced to their parts, and the behavior
> >these parts is explained according to contact mechanics. Yet by this
> >definition, physics became unscientific with the advent of field theory,
> >according to which the parts are under the influence of the whole at a
> No, this is a misrepresentation. Science is about logical
> cause-and-effect hypotheses backed up by experimental evidence. The
> reason we believe in mechanism is that when you spend your life
> actually studying living systems, you actually see the mechanism. If
> we ceased to see evidence of mechanism, we'd drop it as an
> explanatory framework.
You really ought to read Rothman's Lessons from the Living Cell. It may
come as something of a shock.
> >My statement was about development, not evolution. According to the
> >reductionistic theory, the forms and functions of an organism follow from
> >the information contained in genes.
> According to experimental evidence, the forms and functions of an
> organism follow from
> the information contained in genes.
Didn't you just say that was a straw man?
> Not just "according to
> reductionistic theory". Why do you keep denying what hundreds of
> scientists have painstakingly established over the last century?
The investigations of the last century have enabled us to understand many
mechanistic functions of the body, including genetic mechanisms. But this
cannot by itself establish that organisms are fundamentally mechanical. A
theory that can't account for self-determination is not a complete theory of
life. This applies to the self-determination of species (evolution) as much
> >We can claim that the organism is still a
> >mechanism but whose construction occurs blindly, or we can recognize that
> >organism is merely a particle in a field of influence known as a species,
> >and the genes belonging to that organism, rather than having to build the
> >damn thing from scratch, merely serves to individuate it from others of
> If genes "merely serve to individuate" why are there genes involved
> in totally fundamental as pects of development? Even the up-down,
> left-right, front-back polarity of embryos is governed by genes. You
> seem to think it's just a matter of who has blue eyes and who has brown.
I'll grant this is a problem for my view. Nonetheless it's a much smaller
problem than trying to explain evolution without inheritance of adaptations
or claiming that development proceeds entirely from "scratch" (a single
> >This is the fallacy of confusing the particular with the universal. That
> >*some* inheritance is mediated by genes doesn't mean *all* inheritance is
> >mediated by genes. That all inheritance must be materially mediated is a
> >metaphysical proposition. It says something about the nature of reality
> >that not only can't be verified but appears to be contradicted by
> That's just the "God of the gaps" argument.
It's not a gap. It's the whole picture. How are you going to explain the
whole by elucidating the parts when the whole doesn't appear to be reducible
to the parts?
> >Quite the contrary, creationism flourishes when people are all too aware
> >the mechanistic claims of biology. If you're going to have a mechanism,
> >shouldn't you have a mechanic? All the machines that ever existed in the
> >history of the world were built through intelligent design.
> Except biological ones (Blind Watchmaker).
Begging the question.
> > For humans to be influenced by dinosaurs would be like me having your
> > memory. We have human/hominid/primate/mammalian memory. Dinosaur
> > for the birds. However, any species that evolves into a state similar
> > enough to the dinosaur will fall under its field of influence.
> > You may find this proposition odd, but that's not reason enough to
> > it. All the way back to Copernicus science has been showing us that
> > doesn't agree with our ideas of how it should be. If you feel holistic
> > memory is unscientific, you must explain how it contradicts either
> > established scientific principles.
> No. I offer to you my theory of the almighty jam sandwich, which
> has no effect on the world whatsoever, but is the original
> creator of everything and without which all matter would cease
> to exist. Paging William of Ockham...
A theory of life that can explain it on its own terms is by definition
preferable to a theory that explains it through artifice. It's not up to me
to demonstrate to you the value of my theory. It's up to you to demonstrate
the value of yours. Why should I accept your mechanistic theory of life
when I already have an organic one?
> >>>As cell biologist Stephen Rothman points out, if you provide evidence
> >>>reductionism can't provide a coherent explanation (e.g. in the case of
> >>>protein movement) reductionists simply dismiss the evidence as flawed.
> I don't believe anyone claimed that all the evidence was in and
> the work complete; just that there is not anything that seems
> outside the scope of things we know to be. What (for the record)
> did he say was inexplicable?
Evidence for the vesicle theory of protein transport. Rothman notes many
examples of unscientific behavior among the proponents of this
reductionistic theory. They speak of the vesicle model as if it were a
description of an actual mechanism rather than what it is-- a speculative
model. If they can't explain away contrary findings, they assume future
knowledge will provide an adequate account. They believe they don't have to
test their model against a natural system, never saying, if the theory is
correct, then such and such should happen. The experiments they have
conducted cannot prove the vesicle transport system exists, only what it
would look like if it does indeed exist. The same evidence invoked in favor
of the theory is preciesly what we'd expect to find if the theory is wrong.
They exploit the confusion introduced by electron micrographs, which can
show some items where they don't exist in vivo. Thus, when a micrograph
shows proteins where they're expected, it's deemed correct. When a
micrograph shows proteins where they're not expected, it's deemed
contaminated. Proteins that don't show up at all are assumed to have been
lost in the "homogenization" process prior to viewing in the electron
microscope. Possible confusions introduced by autoradiography, in this case
involving exposure times, are exploited in the same manner, thereby
"immunizing the vesicle theory from falsification." When Rothman refuted a key tenet of the theory, that protein transport through membranes is a one-way street, proponents claimed Rothman's sample preparation process was defective. Twenty years later, when the X-ray microscope allowed researchers to peer into the cell without having to undergo the sample preparation process, Rothman's findings were confirmed. Yet most researchers still refused to admit defeat, because to accept Rohtman's model of direct protein transport would be to recognize that a biological process doesn't necessarily entail an underlying mechanism.
> > Strong micro-reductionism states that the whole has no attributes that
> > aren't in some way traceable back to the parts. In biology this is
> > expressed in terms of genotype-phenotype. Whatever is observable about
> > organism is derived from information contained in its genes (or the
> > gene/RNA/protein complex).
> There's _nothing wrong with that_ as long as you know what _all_
> the parts are.
This is Rothman's chief complaint against vesicle theory proponents, that in
knowing what all the parts are, by necessity, they understood the process as
> > Part of the confusion here is the precise meaning of science. As
> > points out, most biologists would regard the phrase "reductionistic
> > as redundant. Same goes for "mechanistic science." In their view,
> > is a process whereby systems are reduced to their parts, and the
> > these parts is explained according to contact mechanics. Yet by this
> > definition, physics became unscientific with the advent of field theory,
> > according to which the parts are under the influence of the whole at a
> > distance.
> Not true. If it were so redundant why does it persist?
Ah, the power of memes.
> > According to the
> > reductionistic theory, the forms and functions of an organism follow
> > the information contained in genes.
> Nonsense. What makes a cell? Answer that.
Two answers actually: mitosis and miosis. By organism I mean multicellular.
The fact that genes don't have to account for the structure of the cell only
makes the assumption that they're responsible for the structure of bodies
that much more inexplicable.
> > If you have 1000 genes,
> > each having a wild type and a mutant type (the simplest assumption we
> > make), then the possible number of ways they can combine is 2 to the
> > power. Believe it or not, this figure cannot ever be calculated by any
> > conceivable supercomputer in any amount of time.
> (1) Find me a population that has total free recombination
> between genes
Well, perhaps they're not totally free, but they're not totally constrained
either. There's a great deal of flexibility, as evidenced by the many ways
the same set of genes combine.
> The fundamental point is that you aren't trying to find the
> high-fitness ridges from scratch, _ever ever ever (EVER)_ except
> in computer sims. Organisms have always been on the ridges since
> they were tiny creases.
If all the structural information of an organism follows from its genes (and
the constraints of physics and chemistry) then genes must know how to
combine in ways that are transcalculational.
> > That all inheritance must be materially mediated is a
> > metaphysical proposition. It says something about the nature of reality
> > that not only can't be verified but appears to be contradicted by
> This is just waffly nonsense. What is inherited that can't be
> explained by what we have more satisfactorily than by invoking
> your stuff? A list please.
Again, as a proponent of an artificial rather than organic view of life, the
onus is on you. How does your stuff better account for life than a theory
that takes life on its own terms?
> > Selection can amplify a change brought on by
> > genetic mutation, but it can't generate the change in the first place.
> No. Mutation is almost completely irrelevant. It is a miniscule
> effect over any reasonable timescale. Recombination and
> (de)methylation are the 'responsive modes' of evolution.
> Mutation has a _barely detectable_ effect.
This is what you get when you take the central source of adaptations--
living organisms-- out of the picture.
> >>>evolution becomes a purely mechanical process involving mutation and
> > natural
> >>>selection, leaving no room for will and intelligence, the hallmarks of
> > life.
> I'm sorry -- bacteria -- intelligence and will? Flashy molecular
> assembly at best. I could do something similar with (a lot of) Lego.
"Yet the humble microbes may have a rudimentary form of intelligence, some
researchers have found. The claims seem to come as a final exclamation
point to a long series of increasingly surprising findings of sophistication
among the microbes, including apparent cases of cooperation and even
> >>Creationism only flourishes when people are poorly educated about
> > Quite the contrary, creationism flourishes when people are all too aware
> > the mechanistic claims of biology. If you're going to have a mechanism,
> > shouldn't you have a mechanic? All the machines that ever existed in
> > history of the world were built through intelligent design.
> Fine. Because humans only see artefacts that have artificers, an
> uneducated assumption might be that all complex objects must be
> the result of the actions of a higher order being.
It's not just the assertion of complex objects but *mechanistic* objects
that lends itself to an anthropomorphic interpretation. I grant, however,
that Michael Behe is not going to change his mind even when presented with a
nonmechanistic view of evolution.
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