Re: Me against the meme

From: Derek Gatherer (
Date: Mon 14 Nov 2005 - 11:59:21 GMT

  • Next message: Derek Gatherer: "Re: Me against the meme"

    At 19:05 11/11/2005, Dace wrote:

    >Purpose, at least in our own lives, is self-evident.

    Exactly. And similarly I'd say mechanism in the test tube, is self-evident.

    >As we ourselves are
    >organic forms, we may confidently attribute purposiveness to other organic
    >forms as well, all the way down to bacteria.

    Anthropomorphism (as well as a unjustified leap of logic)

    >When I was six years old, I used to
    >pretend I was a robot, and my mission was to save America from evil,
    >communist robots. Sometimes I think reductionists have never outgrown that
    >stage of development.

    and funnily enough, I used to pretend I was the evil communist robot you were trying to save America from..... (but I digress)

    >The point is that describing the parts doesn't necessarily reveal the whole.
    >According to Alfred G. Gilman, a Nobel Prize-winning biochemist (quoted in
    >Gibbs' article) "I could draw you a map of all the components in a cell and
    >put all the proper arrows connecting them." But for even the simplest
    >microbe, "I or anybody else would look at that map and have absolutely no
    >ability to predict anything." To make predictions, you have to run
    >simulations of whole cells until you stumble onto the right model. We don't
    >know, just from the parts, what that useful model will be until we hit upon
    >it through trial and error. Clearly, there's more to a cell than its parts.

    Of course, that's what we systems bioinformaticists do. But, as Chris said previously - in order to build 'em up we previously have to break 'em down. Where did the "map of the components of the cell" come from? From good old fashioned mechanism-focused molecular biology.

    >Researchers were baffled as to how the plants knew
    >what the pre-mutant genetic sequences were. They then concluded that there
    >must be a complete copy of the plant's genes contained in its RNA, and it
    >was from this copy that the numerous, disparate mutations in its genome were

    I'll see if I can find this in Science and get back to you.

    >Nice try. That the field requires a queen doesn't mean it's somehow not
    >really a field (which is inherently holistic). Take away the big chunk of
    >iron, and all the magnetic particles fall out of alignment. Every field
    >exists in conjunction with matter. The point is that it can't be causally
    >reduced to matter. The field is itself a causal mechanism.

    But knowing that the field comes from the queen I can now identify the field's causal mechanism, by doing a saturation mutagenesis on the termite genome and picking out the genes that give her the capacity to create the field. After another few years of hard work in the lab, we'd have a molecular genetic mechanism for the creation of the field. Reductionism would have won again.

    Actually, fun though this would be, I've been reading around the Marais experiment and it appears he was the only one to do it, and the only description is in the book to which I gave the web-link. There's no actual hard evidence the experiment was ever done (or if it was done, done properly), so it is inadmissible as evidence in your case, I fear.

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