Re: Me against the meme (2)

From: Dace (
Date: Fri 18 Nov 2005 - 06:00:55 GMT

  • Next message: Scott Chase: "Re: Me against the meme (2)"


    > >>And I would suggest you consider something like this:
    > >
    > >>Cells are ordered and managed to a degree that _almost_ baffles
    > >>the imagination. No need for influence.
    > >
    > > Sure, cells are ordered, but where does that order come from? Why
    assume it
    > > comes from the physical and chemical principles of its molecular
    > In gross terms, their parents. Repeat (almost ad infinitum --
    > cf. the above). Cytoskeletal structure is _very_ old and not per
    > se a set of gene products assembled from scratch; those gene
    > products only maintain what was always there, a subsample of the
    > parent cell.

    Of course. But this doesn't answer my question. How is order maintained in the cell when the behavior of its constituent molecules is indeterminate? All you're doing is to extend the question back from the daughter to the mother cell. We don't know how the current cell does it, and we don't know how the cell it came from did it either.

    > > Okay, let's assume termites utilize an if-then, algorithmic logic in the
    > > creation of their mounds, including arches. Presumably, if the termites
    > > rely on sense-perception to get the two sides of their arches to meet
    > > cleanly in the middle, then the sudden, catastrophic loss of sense data
    > > coming from the opposite side would cause them to abandon the arch. The
    > > algorithm would look something like this: If the other side of the arch
    > > vanishes behind a solid steel wall, abandon the arch! Yet that's not
    > > termites do. Therefore they don't rely on sense-perception in the first
    > > place. Their behavior is modulated by a field of influence much like
    > > particles in a magnetic field, the difference being that this type of
    > > is based on form in place of charge. Unless you can explain why such a
    > > field cannot exist, you must accept this is as the default explanation.
    > Their field of perception is much more limited than you assume.
    > Mostly direct touch; their eyesight is abysmal. So no ability to
    > coordinate sides of arches at all as you suggest, they are
    > emergent. Point is you can find rule sets that do this kind of
    > thing without needing to sense further than your absolutely
    > immediate surroundings -- and bear in mind that the model agent
    > sim systems can already accomplish a lot without _millions of
    > years_ of (much more complex) rule set tuning. Based on those
    > preconditions, they would continue to blindly (forgive the pun)
    > make whatever they were making, based on (very) local conditions
    > as set up before plate insertion; so yes they would appear to
    > construct the arch almost as if the plate wasn't there.

    A set of rules is an abstraction invented by human beings in order to simulate behavior of creatures such as termites. But even if termites do follow a set of rules, i.e. an algorithmic program, this wouldn't explain whether the actions by which they execute said program are guided by a field or by sense perception. If they do the same thing whether or not their sense perception is blocked, this would suggest holistic guidance.

    > >>To paraphrase Sherlock Holmes; when you have eliminated the
    > >>impossible (or daft), what remains, however improbable, must be
    > >>the truth.
    > >
    > > A process can certainly be impossible, such as the genetic calculation
    > > the correct means of combining to produce multicellular organisms,
    > BZZZZ. Already shot that one dead (and then shot the horror
    > movie corpse a few times when it kept sitting up).

    No one knows how genes calculate the correct sequence of combinations to produce complete organisms from a single cell. Given the laws of combinatorics, this task would appear to be impossible.

    > >>Occam through Conan Doyle's eyes (who was himself
    > >>then fooled by two little girls' pictures of fairies as he had
    > >>insufficient mental awareness of the potential to be misled by
    > >>the new technology of photography).
    > >
    > > Conan Doyle was fascinated by the occult, the unexplained, the odd
    > > detail that just didn't fit the conventional explanation. This is a
    > > theme in the Sherlock Holmes stories. He fixates on the one thing that
    > > doesn't make any sense, and out of this examination solves the entire
    > > mystery. Rather than flee from the odd details, such as the ability of
    > > termites to build arches perfectly without the benefit of
    > > or the ability of pets to know when their masters have decided to come
    > > the scientific mentality welcomes such anomalies as clues to a better
    > > theory. What the reductionist cult reveals is the mentality of
    > > not science.

    > This is like all the horrendous TV 'science' journalism we get
    > nowadays -- always the brave struggle of the courageous (and
    > therefore fallaciously assumed to be correct, in the 'good guys
    > wear white and are usually vastly outnumbered like in Star Wars'
    > mode) minority against orthodoxy (which btw is itself a
    > value-free label like dogma so don't start) and the supporting
    > cohorts of small-minded bigots in the dogmatic mainstream.
    > The few are _not_ always right when pitched against the many.
    > Nazism anyone? Any flat-earthers out there?

    This is an interesting point. But if I've simply fallen prey to the lone-voice-of-reason meme, you'll have to demonstrate that what I'm saying is irrational. First you take apart the argument, then you propose a memetic explanation as to why I can't let go of it.

    > >>So if there is a spooky field, it must emanate from the body of the
    > >>queen. Therefore, it cannot be a property of the whole nest, but
    > >>merely of the queen's individual body. Therefore it is not a
    > >>holistic field at all. QED.
    > >
    > >
    > > 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
    > > 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
    > > reduced to matter. The field is itself a causal mechanism.
    > So why is this a special case? Why is it that if the principle
    > applies to molecules, cells, organs, individuals and
    > (presumably) societies, does it need a queen termite to channel
    > the field in this instance (that was supposed to be a gag not a
    > lifeboat for gods sake!)?

    It's not a special case. Every morphic field requires a morphogen
    (Sheldrake's terminology). Without human DNA serving as a morphogen, human developmental fields won't kick in, and no embryo will form. So too, without a receiver, no transmission will enter a radio.

    > >>And there's also a deeper problem with the notion of an
    > >>kind of "chosen" functional adaptation (intelligent or otherwise),
    > >>which is that there is no empirical evidence for such a process,
    > >>despite a century of failed attempts (from Kammerer to Steele via
    > >>Michurin and Lysenko) to find it.
    > >
    > > So there's no evidence for intelligently adapting to a given situation.
    > > It's just never occurred in the history of the world. Nobody's ever,
    > > called a plumber when the faucet started leaking or put on a coat when
    > > was cold outside. Never happened. Just another occultist/commie
    > > fabrication.
    > Fallacious argument (two, actually). Firstly, the point was that
    > there is no ability to reason in bacteria, so how on earth could
    > they call a plumber (so to speak)?

    There are plenty of documented examples of functional adaptations in bacteria. Every time a bacterium exchanges genes with another bacterium in order to be better suited to environmental conditions, it has made a functional adaptation.

    > Second (more my own agenda)
    > there is no _foresight_ by you in calling the plumber -- don't
    > kid yourself that you are doing more than throwing experiences
    > (~memes) against each other in your head and seeing which of the
    > many, many little resultant ecologies from that 'thought'
    > process end up with you smiling at the end cos your feet aren't
    > wet anymore; you didn't make anything new in your head, just
    > mixed and matched.

    Why do you subscribe to a model so profoundly at odds with our experience? Why should we abandon a lesson derived from experiences we have every day of our lives in favor of your model?

    > This is not different in kind from standard
    > evolution, just in turnaround time (and although it isn't
    > standard biology it is the same process -- Dennet and crabgrass
    > vs bluegrass in his yard, or whatever it was). Niches (most
    > often defined by other life, probably infinite in variety and
    > often never discovered/exploited) pre-exist (in the same sense
    > that fitness landscapes also have essentially infinite numbers
    > of locations). Stuff is generated essentially at random. If some
    > stuff sticks in the niche, it prospers; be it a bug or a ~meme.

    This model of evolution stems from the assumption that intelligent adaptations can't be transmitted to subsequent generations. The Weismannian assumption is in turn based on the metaphysical proposition that causation must be based on contact mechanics, a belief abandoned long ago by physics.


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