Re: * makes hubey

Phillip Bigelow (
25 Nov 1995 08:36:44 -0800 (M.D. Winn) writes:

>>There seems to be some flexibility with the word "determinisim" here.
>>As I understand it (covering myself ;-), evolution is entirely governed
>>by short-termed contingencies. There is no pre-set long-term plan.
>>However, this short-term mechanism can lead to the same solutions
>>appearing several times (can't remember what the biologists call it,
>>but I think there are plenty of examples of adaptations arising
>>independently in different geographical areas).

Two terms apply here; one of which is more appropriate to the discussion.

"Convergence" is when different organisms develop similar morphologies
because they share a common niche. The niche may provide constraints on
inappropriate morphologies, but it does *not* constrain the organism to one
particular morphology/character trait. I think this is the one you were
referring to.

"Parallelism" or "parallel evolution" is when different organisms evolve in
a similar fashion, because of a common niche.

High cognitive IQ is not pre-ordained for the animal kindom on the
following evidence:

1) Out of the hundreds of millions (billions?) of different organisms that
live/have lived on the earth, only a small handful have what would be called
"large brains". If large-braininess were an end-goal of the evolutionary
process, it 1) would have happened much sooner, and 2) it would have happened
with more frequency than it has.

2) Evolutionary convergence is not taking place with high cognitive IQ.
Cetaceans have a different brain structure, and undoubtably a different
"thought process" than do the Primates. If convergence were in operation,
then cetacean's and primates' brains would be similar in structure.

3) Large-braininess is a variable *character trait* of the mammalia....and to
complicate matters, it is not even a synapomorphy of the order. Most modern
families of mammals have had 60 million years to evolve large brains.
Instead, these families used that time to develop different specialties.
Large brains are extremely-derived in only a few families. For other
orders of animals, even the most evolutionarily-derived of them,
large-braininess has not taken place at all.

4) A test of Hubey's large-brain-is pre-determined hypothesis:
The Plant Kingdom is at least as old as the Animal Kingdom (perhaps even
older by some phylogenist's reckonings). There is not a single plant with a
centralized "data processing" area. If intelligence is inevitable, why did
the Plant Kingdom get the short end of the stick?

>>Equivalently, the
>>short-term mechanism of evolution can lead to a particular solution
>>arising WITH A HIGH DEGREE OF PROBABILITY. Mark might then be right
>>that intelligence is very likely to arise, and if it hadn't done it
>>via man, it would have done it some other way.

Considering that large-braininess has arisen only a handful of times out
of a billion tries or so over 3.5 billion years of trying, I would say that
the character trait has an *extremely low degree of probability* of arising.
In fact, we are lucky that we even have it expressed at all.
If something is possible, then given enough time, and through chance, it
*will* eventually arise. Determinism-through-chance is taking place in
evolution. But the notion that intelligence is a highly desirable thing for
evolution to move toward, is simply unsupported by the physical evidence.