Re: Proof

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Fri Aug 24 2001 - 23:31:21 BST

  • Next message: Scott Chase: "Re: Proof"

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    From: "Scott Chase" <>
    Subject: Re: Proof
    Date: Fri, 24 Aug 2001 18:31:21 -0400
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    >From: "Dace" <>
    >To: <>
    >Subject: Re: Proof
    >Date: Fri, 24 Aug 2001 12:49:05 -0700
    > > Ted, concerning (a) protein folding, and (b) genes making proteins
    > > making organisms, what level of proof would you require to sign up for
    > > the mainstream evolutionary / molecular biological model of the world?
    >Walter Elsasser approached the question of organic form like any other
    >physics problem. And he found that it had no solution. Where are the
    >mechanisms that turn blueprints into final product? Moreover, how would
    >such mechanisms work? Elsasser was appalled by the fact that biologists
    >didn't even have a theory for how genes construct organisms. Right now
    >we've got a big, fat notebook full of descriptions with no coherent order
    >explanatory principle.
    >When you can thermodynamically connect the dots between polypeptides and
    >proteins, then you'll have something.
    God of the gaps meets moving goalposts? Whenever the holes in the knowledge
    base are filled out step by step, those launching salvos at "orthodox
    science" (tm) need only ratchet the problem further, into areas not yet

    "OK so you know how that gene (or those genes) play(s) a role, however
    limited, in that developmental process, you still haven't offered a coherent
    and comprehensive explanation for how the organism develops from zygote to
    fully mature adult with respect to form and behavior."

    Expression genetics (versus transmission genetics) has a long way to go. I
    have an even longer way to go understanding the development of organisms as
    influenced by gene products and things such as cell surface interactions and
    signal transduction and how the context a cell finds itself in at any given
    time influences how that cell's genetic repertoire is expressed.

    Something like the concept or descriptive notion of a morphogenetic field
    can go a long way to combat "bean bag / beads on a string" genocentrism of
    the "this for that/1:1" variety, but taking this too far and adding in some
    very contentious idea of morphic resonance basically evaporates the utility
    of the MF concept (if any utility even exists). One paper I recall which has
    some relevant discussion is:

    Gilbert SF, Opitz JM, Raff RA. 1996. Resynthesizing evolutionary and
    developmental biology. Developmental Biology (173): 357-372

    In the abstract Gilbert, Opitz and Raff say that morphogenetic fields
    "exemplify the modular nature of developing embryos" and call them "a major
    unit of ontogeny whose changes bring about changes in evolution." I found no
    mention of Sheldrake in their extensive references section. Of Goodwin they
    say that his particular formulation is somewhat akin to the classical
    version and that "this is a field outside developmental genetics and is
    actively opposed to gene action as being important in field functions."
    Where Gilbert Opitz and Raff slight Goodwin as being non-genic, IIRC Goodwin
    (in _How the Leopard Changed its Spots_) slights Sheldrake as being
    non-psychical in his formulations. Could someone double check this for me
    since I don't have a copy handy?

    One area I've been interested in is epigenetics and I've heard of epigenetic
    inheritance systems and ideas such as epialleles and epimutations, where
    methylation states of genetic *material* (evil grin) are pertinent. It think
    it was Vincent who said something about the new _Science_ (vol 293, no.
    5532) where epigenetics is a major topic. This could be a fruitful area for
    further exploration. Are the MR proponents giving this or any *new* work in
    developmental biology any *serious* consideration? Have they done much
    reading in the hybrid field of evolutionary developmental biology where
    expression genetics contends with transmission genetics? Are they
    constructing an Aunt Sally of "orthodoxy" for their own amusement and/or
    polemic advantage?

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