Re: Tears and 'salt excretion'. Was Re: tears

H. M. Hubey (
1 Nov 1995 21:45:27 -0500 (Tom Clarke) writes:

>I was staying out of the debates between Hubey and y'all since I find
>that Hubey generally hasn't quite mastered the science game yet :-)
>Then you had to go take my name in vain.

I'm glad you decided to intervene :-)..

>Actually as I contemplate the sentences above I'm not sure of your point.

I think I understand what the problem is.

I'll try to clarify it, for Mr. Burrett(sp?)

>You, of course fixed on his careless use of the forbidden word "direction",
>which I think was a slip due to inexperience in the science wars :-)

This knee-jerk reaction to the D-word is a residue of fighting
off the creationists. In truth it's there because of the difficulty
of convincing the creationists. So they have to fight tooth and
nail every time they see the trigger words.

The simple fact is that direction means lots of things to lots
of people (and I know that you know that).

>Even Dawkins with his "selfish gene" ideas would not eschew explanation
>of how phenotypic characteristics evolved. He of course would emphasize,
>that any such explanation would have to reduce to the advantage of
>the underlying selfish gene. The most common basis of such explanation is
>of course reproductive success of the individual housing the genes.

First off, even the simplest (not too simple really) math models of
population genetics have direction built right into them. There's
evolution in N-space. The phase point moves. Bingo.

It's even worse than that. The standard diffusion type equations
for the gene ratio already imply direction. I think the authors
deliberately ignore the fact that these equations can be derived
from deterministic DE's (with the addition of noise) via the
Fokker-Planck-Kolmogorov method. For if they did that then they'd
have to admit that there's a deterministic component to the
equations of evolution, and they hope that nobody will see them,
at least until the creationists are tamed. The simple fact is that
determinism is also a dirty word because of the IQ wars ,and
yes, again, the Bell Curve. The problem is in the miscomprehension
of the word "determinism" as well as "direction". The words have
taken on meanings which they should not have, if one stuck
only to mathematical models and their meanings within the
context of these models.

And again:
The direction of time as entropy has been beaten to death already.
That living organisms (open systems) are sources of negative
entropy is already known and has been known for a long time. That
complexity increases over time (of living things) is also without
controversy. I don't understand what the problem is.

>Sigh. Don't you have any sense of irony? I think Hubey knows that such
>explanations exist. He was pointing out that evading explanation in
>other sciences is obviously silly.

Thank you. I guess what he wants to do is to claim that mammalian
body temperature is something like a physical/mathematical constant
say like Pi or Planck's constant.

There's no need to explain it. It's just there.

>Surely paleoanthropology has advanced beyond the butterfly collecting stage.

I used to think so :-)...

I see stages in everything :-)..

1) Observation stage -- random comments
2) Classification stage - right or wrong
3) Measurement stage
4) Mathematical modeling stage

It's iterative, of course. Physics graduated beyond the
fire, earth, air, water stage long time ago.


Regards, Mark