No drive for drift... was Re: Tears and 'salt excretion'

Bill Burnett (
Mon, 6 Nov 1995 11:31:59

Mr. H. M. Hubey writes:

>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.

The phase point moves. The phase point goes back. The phase point stays
where it is sometimes.

Awe struck as I am by the sheer volume of your understanding of the finer
points of population genetics and your in depth knowledge of the associated
verbiage this is all by the by.

I will concede the following:
1. Our ancient ancestors were, if you like, germs.
2. We are more intelligent and behaviourally sophisticated than germs.
3. We have moved from being germs to being people.
4. We have advanced.

Okay. So what? I would argue that the germs went in a different direction.
Oops, I've used the d-word. No, actually, I don't object to the d-word in
this sense, I object to the d-word in the H. sapiens is the be all and end all
top of the heap closest to God sense. I object to a 'universal' direction as
a driving force for evolution, at the head of which stands Hubey. Or Richard
Owen, or Adam. Evolution needs no direction but proceeds in many different
ones regardless. I don't say it just does, I've offered mechanisms by which
it works. I fail to see how any direction can be considered any better than
any other direction.

>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.

No, actually, the authors admit to stealing the diffusion approximation.
That's precisely why it's called the diffusion approximation in stead of
something more imaginative.

>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.

The problem is you think more complex in terms of brain power = higher.
Some people might not have a problem with that. I do. I suggest we drop it.

Mr. Clarke adds...
>>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.

Yes Tom, I have a sense of irony. Where's yours?
Incidentally, I'm sorry if I took your name in vain, unintended. I felt sure
an ardent Dawkinist as yourself would eschew the need for a great universal
direction as championed by that paragon of evolution Mr. Hubey.

And Mr. Hubey again...
>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.

My irony sensor twitcheth again, but no... Of course not. For a start
mammalian body temperatures vary widely among species, something you
(apparently) ignore. And birds are warm blooded too, and some tunas get
pretty close. Are we all out of the same pool, or were they different ones?