Re: Me against the meme (2)

From: Derek Gatherer (
Date: Fri 18 Nov 2005 - 13:30:56 GMT

  • Next message: Dace: "Miroslav Hill responds"

    At 12:12 18/11/2005, Scott Chase wrote:
    >Dace wrote:
    >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.
    >My reply:
    >They used to rely on the abacus, but then calculators were invented ;-)
    >You need to read Sean Carroll's _Endless Forms Most Beautiful_. See the
    >parts where he talks about genetic switches.

    I thought we had disposed of that argument a while back. I pointed out to Ted that such a combinatorial calculation never needs to be made, so it's a pseudo-problem (it is in fact yet again Hoyle's fallacy - the incorrect assumption that evolution has to achieve complex structures out of chaos). People who commit Hoyle's fallacy are, in Dawkins' analogy, looking at Mount Improbable and claiming there's no way up, whereas in fact there is a way - it just takes billions of years and billions of mountaineers die in the attempt. But each mountaineer starts out not from the bottom but from the place the last best dead mountaineer reached.

    > I've heard retinoic acid mentioned as a
    >possible morphogen and it certainly ain't DNA.

    Gosh, retinoic acid! Did part of my Ph.D. on that, many eons ago.

    Actually, Ted, try this one:

    We know that related organisms have similar DNA sequences. We know that related organisms have similar developmental pathways. We know that mutational pressure on DNA is high.


    If developmental pathways are controlled by spooky fields and not DNA, then since mutational pressure is high, we would see a lot more divergence in DNA. Since we don't, it follows that developmental pathways are not controlled by spooky fields. QED.

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