Received: by alpheratz.cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk id WAA14646 (8.6.9/5.3[ref firstname.lastname@example.org] for cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk from email@example.com); Fri, 10 Aug 2001 22:08:05 +0100 From: <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Date: Fri, 10 Aug 2001 16:11:55 -0500 Content-type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII Content-transfer-encoding: 7BIT Subject: Re: Convergence + protein folding Message-ID: <3B7407CB.10957.136E62B@localhost> In-reply-to: <003a01c121ca$0d87d280$da86b2d1@teddace> X-mailer: Pegasus Mail for Win32 (v3.12c) Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Precedence: bulk Reply-To: email@example.com
On 10 Aug 2001, at 11:26, Dace wrote:
> Joe Dees:
> > On 9 Aug 2001, at 12:33, Dace wrote:
> > > > > Dawkins discusses this dilemma in The Blind Watchmaker: "It
> > > > > is vanishingly improbable that the same evolutionary pathway
> > > > > should ever be followed twice. And it would seem similarly
> > > > > improbable, for the same statistical reasons, that two lines
> > > > > of evolution should converge on the same endpoint from
> > > > > different starting points. It is all the more striking...
> > > > > that numerous examples can be found in real nature, in which
> > > > > independent lines of eovlution appear to have converged, from
> > > > > very different starting points, on what looks very like the
> > > > > same end-point."
> > >
> > > Joe Dees wrote:
> > >
> > > > Random mutation (within the same range of genetic
> > > > possibilities), followed by selection by similar environments
> > > > for similar niches should just about do it.
> > >
> > > Are you establishing yourself as a higher authority on these
> > > matters than Dawkins? Of course, he's taking into consideration
> > > environmental fitness and random mutation in his assessment.
> > > Learn to pick your fights. Don't just assume that every assertion
> > > I make is unorthodox or subject to debate.
> > >
> > Appeal to Authority is another one of those 2500 year old Greek
> > logical fallacies. In fact, my reply was logical, rational,
> > reasonable, coherent, cohesive and cogent, and specifically
> > addressed the referent conditions rather than someone else's opinion
> > of them.
> Appeal to Authority is a fallacy only when the "authority" turns out
> to have no expertise on the issue under discussion. If I appeal to
> the authority of a plumber on my leaky faucet, that is not a fallacy.
> But if I make my appeal to the authority of an electrician, this would
> then be a fallacy.
> Yes, your reply was logical. That's the problem. You're trying to
> argue against facts with logic. It won't work. This is what I mean
> about banging your head against a wall.
One argues logicallly based upon the facts; the alternative, to
argue illogically, always fails to produce a correct conclusion.
Stephen Jay Gould, who dismisses Sheldrake, is arguably a
greater evolutionary theorist than is Dawkins, and I'll just bet that
Daniel Dennett would dismiss him, too.
> > > Bill Spight wrote:
> > >
> > > > Dear Ted,
> > > >
> > > > > It's well known that atavistic traits commonly pop up among
> > > > > developing organisms. A feral pig is liable to develop tusks.
> > > > > Horses occasionally grow extra toes. Humans are sometimes
> > > > > born with a small tail. Such
> > > things
> > > > > can be expected if we do indeed resonate with past forms. But
> > > > > they can
> > > also
> > > > > be explained according to the genetic model. What can't be
> > > > > explained genetically is parallel evolution, or "convergence."
> > > >
> > > > Convergent evolution is in fact a major support of the theory of
> > > > evolution.
> > >
> > > And as Hume said, "The green table is green."
> > >
> > He's saying that the fact that similarly configured niche
> > inhabitants evolve to occupy similarly configured environmental
> > niches is an empirical corroboration of the power that natural
> > selection exerts on random mutations, thus an empirical
> > corroboration of evolutionary theory.
> And you imagine you're informing me of something I didn't already
> know? What am I, six years old? His point is obvious. It's also
> irrelevant. Sheldrake takes an evolutionary model. He accepts natural
> selection. I've already made this perfectly clear for anyone who's
> been paying attention. The only interesting thing about the comment
> was its amusing redundancy, hence the Hume comment.
Sheldrake also, unfortunately for him, accepts the mystical notion
> > > > > Among plants and
> > > > > animals, we continually find new examples of organisms widely
> > > > > separated
> > > in
> > > > > their phylogenetic derivation which nonetheless develop
> > > > > remarkably
> > > similar
> > > > > forms. In New Zealand we find many kinds of leaves common to
> > > > > Eurasia
> > > which
> > > > > serve to fend off herbivores that don't exist in New Zealand.
> > > > > There
> > > seems
> > > > > to be no reason why marsupials and mammals would develop such
> > > > > incredibly similar forms.
> > > >
> > > > Don't be silly.
> > >
> > > See Dawkins above. He may not accept morphic resonance, but at
> > > least he concedes that convergence is a mystery.
> > >
> > It is less mysterious to Stephen Jay Gould (omidog - dueling
> > authorities! <chortle>).
> I'd be interested to know in what book Gould made this observation.
It was noted in another post, in a discussion between Wilkins and
Chase, I believe, where Gould also dismissed Capra's holism and
De Chardin's march to the Omega point (all three in the same
> > > To take a single example, the astonishingly similar color patterns
> > > on the scales of fish of different species which inhabit different
> > > African lakes cannot be explained by any known factor. It has
> > > nothing to do with fitness or chemistry. You've got nothing here
> > > except coincidence. And that's the point Dawkins is making above.
> > > There's a colossal coincidence at work here, and it's repeated
> > > *countless* times across the earth. At least Dawkins is honest
> > > about the extreme improbability of neo-Darwinian theory.
> > >
> > You don't have other predator and prey species that share those
> > lakes, and common underwater environmental color and configuration,
> > which could cause similar selection? And these different species
> > are not genetically related; say, in the same family? I'm quite
> > sure that one or both of these conditions hold(s).
> It's interesting that you're quite sure. You appear to be working on
> faith, not reason.
I'd say YOU are, unless you've personally gone snorkeling in the
lakes and examined the genomes in question.
> > Sheldrake just proposes a resonating wave function that functions as
> > a newage Holy Ghost. It's junk science, which means it is
> > pseudoscience trying to hide it's pseudo in the closet, and was
> > probably published to make the author money,
> Fallacy of abuse.
> as sensationalistic
> > 'controversial' theories which are basically conjectural 'just so
> > stories' with no empirical basis sell more to the great untutored
> > than do serious and seriously dry academic tomes. From Velikovsky
> > to Joseph Chilton Pearce, crackpots have made much money doing this
> > sort of thing.
> "Guilt by association." These statements are childish and
The remark made by Gould would be similarly criticized by you? It
sounds as though you have become a Sheldrake "true believer",
with emotional investment in his conjectures being accepted, which
has the effect of making you a meme vector, or proselytizer.
Another remark in the same thread Chase/Wilkins thread rang as
true as fine crystal; MGR resembles homeopathy, another mystical
belief system unsuccessfully attempting to masquerade as
> > > > > > > Genes do not appear to contain instructions for the
> > > > > > > folding of proteins. The very concept of "genetic
> > > > > > > instruction" is speculative. There is, as yet, no evidence
> > > > > > > to bolster it. Nucleic acid chains produce amino acid
> > > > > > > chains. That genes produce proteins is a meme, and this
> > > > > > > meme is obstructing the emergence of a new theory.
> > > > > > >
> > > > > > They do so indirectly, by producing their components (via
> > > > > > messenger RNA), complete with specific locks and keys to
> > > > > > govern their combination/assembly.
> > > > >
> > > > > DNA does not code for locks and keys to govern protein
> > > > > assembly. The folding of protein remains a mystery, as any
> > > > > biochemist can tell you.
> > > > >
> > > > If it codes for protein construction, then lock and key
> > > > configuration, being an aspect of overall configuration, is
> > > > necesarily a part of the whole.
> > >
> > > This statement is absolutely correct. *If* genes code for protein
> > > construction, *then* they would necessarily provide a lock and key
> > > configuration. However, genes do not encode for any such thing.
> > > They "encode" for a simple, linear sequence of amino acids.
> > > That's it, Joe. Bang your head against the brick wall all you
> > > want, it's not going to change the facts.
> > >
> > If DNA encodes for "simple, linear sequence(s) of amino acids", then
> > these themselves can only lock-and-key into proteins in ways
> > predetermined by their configuration.
> Do you realize you're making this up out of thin air? Do you imagine
> you would find support for this statement from professional
> biochemists? Do you imagine that you could open a textbook and read
> all about how genes guide the protein-folding process? This is
> absurd! It's common knowledge among professionals that protein
> folding remains a mystery. While it's assumed that eventually we will
> discover a mechanism that forces amino acid chains into the correct
> configuration, even if this were the case, it still would offer no
> basis for the belief that genes are somehow in control of the process.
Reread the above to see why your response does not address my
contention; if genes code for amino acid sequence construction,
then the locks and keys inherent in those configurations constrain
linkage possibilities; nothing has to be forced, just alternatives
excluded by being rendered configurationally impossible.
> > > Self-existence in no way implies human-like consciousness. It
> > > means only that the form of a thing arises intrinsically rather
> > > than being stamped onto it externally. Only self-existent forms
> > > resonate with each other. This is why chairs and tables and
> > > toaster ovens don't engage in morphic resonance.
> > >
> > This distinction, and the additional synergistic interrelations
> > attributed to it, smacks of the long-discredited 18th and 19th
> > century concept of elan vital, or 'life force'.
> Guilt by association.
> > > > First you decry what you perceive as the application of a
> > > > mechanistic view to biology, and then you attempt to do so
> > > > yourself when it suits you. It is extremely doubtful whether
> > > > electromagnetic fields could carry a precise, detailed and
> > > > info-rich instruction between cells, even if they possessed
> > > > transmitters and receivers of sufficient complexity to
> > > > communicate same - which they don't.
> > >
> > > I don't mean to suggest that electromagnetic fields can explain
> > > organic form. Biologists have long speculated that a different
> > > kind of field, a "morphogenetic field," could be based on form in
> > > the same way that electromagnetic fields are based on charge.
> > > Just as similarly charged particles resonate with each other, so
> > > do similarly formed "particles" (such as proteins, cells, organs,
> > > etc.) While electromagnetic fields are deterministic, "morphic"
> > > fields are probabilistic. We generally follow habit. If we've
> > > done something the same way nine times out of ten in the past,
> > > then there's a 90% probability we'll do it that way again. This
> > > applies to all organic structures. Morphic resonance is more like
> > > quantum mechanics than classical mechanics. If "mechanistic" can
> > > include probabilistic causation, then Sheldrake's theory is indeed
> > > mechanistic-- just not deterministic. Perhaps I should stop
> > > equating mechanistic with deterministic. Unfortunately, habits
> > > are difficult to break.
> > >
> > You are violating Occam's Razor by multiplying fields beyond
> > necessity (what is necessary to account for the phenomena
> > observed).
> Invoking Occam here is a big mistake. The whole point of field theory
> in biology, all the way back to the 20s, was to reduce the number of
> "entities." Field theory is far more elegant than germ-plasm theory.
> All the complexity involved in storing blueprints in our chromosomes
> and somehow translating them into actual bodies is washed away with
> the concept of a holistic field governing development. This is not to
> suggest, of course, that elegance constitutes proof.
We already know that the genes are there; we actually modify
them, on occasion. To add another mechanism, whose existence
and efficacy have not even been demonstrated, to one actually
proven to exist and that has not ben proven to fail to account for the
observed phenomena is indeed to violate Occam's Razor. "God
made it all" would be simpler than evolution, I suppose, but that
wdoesn't make it correct.
> You're really going to have to do better, Joe. Except for the
> reference to Gould, none of this is the least bit helpful.
Perhaps you are beyond help on this issue.
> Ted Dace
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This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
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