Re: Debunking pseudoscience: Why horoscopes really work

From: Dace (
Date: Sun Dec 02 2001 - 17:18:28 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Debunking pseudoscience: Why horoscopes really work
    Date: Sun, 2 Dec 2001 09:18:28 -0800
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    > > > On Wed, Nov 28, 2001 at 11:07:14PM -0800, Dace wrote:
    > > > >
    > > > > Whatever is genetically programmed now had to be consciously learned
    > > when it
    > > > > first evolved. Every function of the body had to be built up
    > > > > learning and imitation.
    > > >
    > > > I sometimes sympathise with some of the things you say, but that is
    > > > absolute bullshit. Genetic mutation is random, it does NOT follow
    > > > learning, imitation or anything else whatsoever.
    > >
    > > Who says evolution is reducible to genetic mutation? The only thing we
    > > say for sure is that organisms can't develop and species can't evolve
    > > to the extent that they in some way retain forms and behaviors from
    > > past.
    > I've never formally studied genetics, or even biology, so I'll just
    > say this: as I understand it, structures and behaviours are retained
    > due to being genetically determined -- plus, of course, for sufficiently
    > social and intelligent species, there's memetics. I'm quite confident in
    > saying that no other mechanism is known, and I get the impression that
    > practically everyone working in this and related areas believes that
    > no other mechanism is required. Amateurs with bees in their bonnets,
    > like you and Sheldon, have no credibility.

    That's Sheldrake. He was director of graduate studies in cell biology at
    Cambridge before retiring to pursue his own research projects full time.

    It's true that most biologists believe in materialist mechanism. On the
    other hand, Discovery magazine had no trouble digging up a few researchers
    who were willing to go on the record in support of Sheldrake. The main
    thing is that no one has any proof that genes encode information regarding
    living form. It's not as if we can read the genetic code and say, "Okay,
    here's the information on the liver; here's the blueprint for the lungs;
    here's the layout of the heart," and so on. That genes influence form--
    which is obvious from the successes of genetic engineering-- doesn't mean
    they encode forms.

    > >The radical notion that memory is stored in genes remains unproven.
    > Not so much radical as ludicrous.

    Are you agreeing with me?

    > > Darwin insisted repeatedly that evolutionary theory depends on a
    > > by which learned behavior is incorporated into species memory.
    > > adapt to their environment, and these acquired adaptations become
    > > instinctive in subsequent generations. Without this, he maintained, the
    > > whole theory is shot.
    > Despite the inevitable personality cult, I don't think you'll find many
    > people who believe that Darwin was infallible.

    When you point out that "practically everyone" in the field supports your
    view, you're appealing to authority. Then, when it turns out the biggest
    authority of them all is opposed to your view, you point out that he's not
    infallible. The point is that you need actual proof, not just large numbers
    of people who agree with you. Often the truth turns out to be precisely the
    opposite of what virtually everyone believed (see Copernicus). The memetic
    "herd mentality" is almost perfectly opposed to the spirit of science.


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