Re: memetics-digest V1 #1588

From: Dace (
Date: Tue 29 Nov 2005 - 22:10:34 GMT

  • Next message: Keith Henson: "Re: "Abstract" Memes?"

    Hi Chris,

    > Hi.
    > >>Protein folding (again): Fine, there are many stable
    > >>configurations for some proteins to fold to (cf. prion disease
    > >>for a nasty one) but that is managed by (1) a whole suite of
    > >>stuff during manufacture (chaperones, pauses in translation
    > >>etc.) and (2) a really thorough misfold-spotting machinery that
    > >>recycles anything remotely dodgy.
    > >
    > > How do the chaperones know what to do? Are they guided by genetic
    > > instructions? Is it mechanical necessity? How does misfold-spotting
    > > machinery know which is folded right and which is wrong?
    > We've been over this. Proteins are most often localised close to
    > where they need to be, where that us an issue, then stochastic
    > bumping does the rest (in part why Q10 issues arise when the
    > temperature is changed). Almost all of the chemistry of life is
    > based on complementary shapes that fit together given the chance
    > without any need of guidance. Self-assembling. Simulations have
    > shown this to be perfectly feasible.

    The multiple-minimum problem remains outstanding. Any assertion as to mechanical necessity of protein-folding is a statement of faith.

    > >>> Instead of finding out how DNA
    > >>> serves to differentiate individuals within a common theme, scientists
    > >>> trying to find out how DNA builds bodies from scratch (a single cell).
    > Okay misquote maybe. So we can at least agree that 'cells from
    > scratch' is not an issue (cf. your combinatorial 'nightmare')?

    The correct combination by which genes produce functional organs is well beyond the realm of computation. This has nothing to do with creating cells from scratch.

    > >>Clouds(?): This is just nonsensical. Structure in cells is
    > >>elaborate.
    > >
    > > Yes, structure in cells is far more elaborate than in a cloud of gas.
    > > That's the problem. According to thermodynamics, the behavior of free
    > > molecules is indeterminate, and only at the large-scale does a gas
    > > certain patterns of behavior. But the patterned behavior found in
    > > which are composed of free molecules, is vastly more intricate and
    > > than the patterns found in a gas. How do we account for this
    > Exactly what proportion of these molecules do you assume are
    > 'free'? I'll tell you; very few indeed. Most are tethered or
    > localised by all sorts of mechanisms. This 'randomised bag of
    > stuff' idea bears no resemblance to the reality.

    Again, you're simply restating the problem. Why, given their indeterminate nature, do molecules in cells generally participate in patterned, cellular behaviors?

    > And by the way the 'laws' of thermodynamics to which you refer
    > are not specific about the behaviour of free molecules because
    > the theory is approximate. There is no indeterminacy when you
    > look at the level of individual molecules (apart from difficulty
    > [for us only, not for the system] in calculating the outcome of
    > multiple-body collisions.

    If it's impossible to mathematically determine molecular behavior in a gas
    (Boltzmann's theorem) then what makes you so sure molecular behavior is in fact deterministic? This can only be a matter of faith. Your faith in molecular determinism, despite the impossibility of ever obtaining evidence for such a thing, is particularly odd given quantum indeterminacy, which is known to be a property of particles themselves and not simply an artifact of human ignorance. As a rational belief, metaphysical determinism is done for. That it persists can be chalked up to its ability to replicate in a psychological environment that craves order and certainty.

    > >>As for 'free will': This is just bizarre. Does a motion sensor
    > >>have the 'will' to sound an alarm when it is triggered? Does
    > >>chemotaxis qualify as something different (no)? Does a bee have
    > >>a 'desire' to remember a route using that special neural
    > >>structure it has (no)? There is a sliding scale for awareness to
    > >>be sure, but it drops off pretty rapidly and is reliant on
    > >>having something that can process _large amounts of information
    > >>at once_. Action-reaction pairs are _not_ thought. Without
    > >>thought there can be no 'desire' for anything.
    > >
    > > If organisms are machines, then even among humans free will is
    > > If organisms are not machines but merely contain mechanical elements
    > > a holistic context, then free will can exist at any level of
    > > The meaning of evolution is that species are self-created in conjunction
    > > with natural selection. Thus human free will is only the
    > > of what ordinarily manifests at the species level.
    > Bingo. You're one of them -- just like all the people desperate
    > for something 'quantum' to get them out of the problem that
    > _no-one has free will_!

    Free will is self-evident. At a mundane level, we experience it constantly.

    > This is the nub of it. This illogical insistence that we are
    > somehow more than the outcome of mixing our experiences in our
    > heads then living in a context of stimuli provides the big
    > irrational hole through which you are poking this argument.

    Who says experiences take place in our heads? Neurotransmission, yes. Experience, no. We are not homunculi. In a world where A = A and never B, how can we ever think about anything outside our own heads? Roll that one around in the old noggin for awhile.

    > But how do you know that the influence of a neighbouring colony
    > _is_ relevant in your own microclimate? Seems a double-edged
    > sword to me -- I'd rather have the facility to respond myself if
    > I were one of them -- do you postulate an editorial procedure on
    > this influence or is it universal (in which case why only Hill
    > as witness?)?

    The only limit is similarity. Physically separated colonies must be closely related, or no influence will pass between them.

    > >>(2) What is the origin of life in the morpho world?
    > >
    > > I'm with Cairns-Smith. Why do you ask?
    > Okay so Cairns-Smith postulated claymation followed by RNA
    > world. I raise it because I want to know how the morpho thing
    > bridges the gap from non-life to life? Firstly, can non-alive
    > (whatever that means) things influence each other through fields
    > (crystals would seem to be a good example, also relevant to your
    > cloud objections above)?

    The key to form-based fields of influence is that the form be intrinsic, not externally stamped as in assembly lines. It must emerge organically, not mechanically. Crystallization is an example of a form that emerges organically outside the context of life. When newly hatched types of crystal begin spontaneously appearing in labs halfway around the world, scientists tend to assume, without evidence, that the new type of crystal somehow contaminated these other labs, perhaps carried on the beards of traveling chemists.

    > Secondly, what influenced the first
    > thing anyone could acknowledge as life, as by definition there
    > was no template?

    I'm not sure that life has a beginning, any more than time itself.

    > This keys into the next one too -- how perfect
    > is the field-based copying? Is it copy-with-error (i.e.
    > neo-Darwinian)?

    It's not perfect, and that's very significant. An organism may follow its field-mediated species memory, or it might ignore it and choose instead to adapt to changing circumstances. Free will occupies the probabilistic gray area between chance and necessity. It's not all black and white, as Monod had it.

    > >>(3) What is the mechanism of evolution, in full? All Lamarckian?
    > >
    > > Lamarckian evolution is theologically guided. God started the process
    > > guided it with the intention of producing H sapiens. Darwin dropped
    > > Lamarck's theology but kept his emphasis on the inheritance of traits
    > > developed through use and disuse. Such traits cannot be inherited
    > > genetically and must rely on holistic memory which, according to
    > > operates via the resonance of current forms with prior, similar forms.
    > Right. So why do we never _see_ Lamarckian (or any variant)
    > evolution?

    Who says we don't? In Darwin's opinion, the inheritance of use and disuse was the primary source of variations to be selected or not by the environment. To this day there's no evidence to the contrary, only the assumption, based on reductionist metaphysics, that inheritance can only come through genes.

    > >>(4) What is a 'lethal' gene for you (i.e. knockout/mutant =
    > >>never develops or dies very early)?
    > >
    > > Again, why do you ask? What's your point?
    > Because if something is far more dependent on fields for
    > existence, why do so many gene knockouts die so thoroughly?
    > Surely if genes are not hugely important ('individuation' rather
    > than fundamental development) there should be no such thing?
    > They can't all be involved in channeling the field can they?

    What happens when you knock out part of the tuner in a TV?

    That's not to say that organic form is more dependent on inherited fields than genes, simply that if one side of a complementary process is knocked out, the whole picture is lost. It's not just DNA that's double-stranded but inheritance itself.


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