Re: Darwin and Lamarck

t (
Tue, 27 Apr 1999 10:49:09 EDT

From: <>
Date: Tue, 27 Apr 1999 10:49:09 EDT
Subject: Re: Darwin and Lamarck

In a message dated 4/26/99 10:13:45 AM Central Daylight Time, writes:

>> In essense, how is this different from breeding dogs for a particular
(nothing new below) <<

It isn't as best I can tell. Though there are many hopeful biological
Lamarkians out there, and enough tantalizing tidbits to keep their spirits
up, I fail to see either a mechanism?, or a consistency? that would make it
compelling. It still remains that circumcizing males does nothing to alter
the foreskin genes, and that overwhelmingly most other alterations in
phenotype do not have any "epigenetic" effects.

A few limited examples, though interesting to contemplate, do not add up to a
scheme of Larmarkianism. Indeed it compells the extra question of why just a
few examples and not universally? I certainly haven't sensed the deliberate
suppression of Lamarkian hopes; some of the examples are not entirely
unfamiliar to myself or my father-in-law who is a biologist.

It just doesn't add up to the ten dollar evidence that some would hope that
it would, so perhaps they project their unrequited hopes into the evil
suppressive schemes of those killjoy Darwinists - yet another element in the
coalition of Mr. Lees' hated "scientism" enemy (its apparently getting pretty
big these days). Darwinism on the other hand remains consistent with obvious
mechanisms for the scheme. Between a quarter and a ten dollar bill, perhaps
some people will continue to choose the quarter because they are drawn to
shiny objects. I guess its better than nothing, at least in a few rare
places you can still get a cup of coffee for a quarter.

All that bantering aside, the question that continues to interest me is
whether Darwinism (with its distinction between genotypes and phenotypes), is
inherent to evolutionary systems or whether it is just a feature of biology.
Is it part and parcel of evolutionary algorithm? Is it a forced move in
evolutionary space? Or is it just a particularly good move? Or is it a
forced move in some evolutionary spaces and not in others? Can you even make
an intelligible study of an essentially Lamarkian evolutionary system were
such a thing possible or actually existed?

Obviously Blackmore thought it necessary to defend against accusations of
Lamarkianism, but then finally used Campbell's rule to suggest that it may
not be important. In legal circles that is called pleading in the
alternative - my client did not assault the plaintiff, but even if he did, it
was justified force in self-defense, but even if it wasn't the plaintiff
suffered no damages, but even if he did there is no justification for
punitive damages.

Either the accusation of memetic Lamarkianism is serious or it isn't. I am
not sure which myself, however. Apparently Blackmore isn't either.


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