Re: Neoteny was Re: god makes hubey

Bill Burnett (
Mon, 27 Nov 1995 10:00:31

(H. M. Hubey) writes:

> (Bill Burnett) writes:

>>Evolution has no pre-set 'goal'

>Who said that it did? Goal has no sense except for a living
>thing with a brain.

Sadly my server has dumped your original 'explain neoteny' posting.
However, my original response lives on for a few days more at least (courtesy
of pb.)

(Phillip Bigelow) writes:

>> (Bill Burnett) writes:

>>>Explain how neoteny indicates a pre-set goal, please.

> (H. M. Hubey) extrapolated:

>>It's odd that they don't look like more primitive ancestors
>>and instead like their more developed (virtual) descendants.
>>Human babies look like what we'd normally extrapolate as
>>our future descendants.

Gee, I wish you'd corrected me straight away. This was the time to explain
yourself and tell me evolution has no preset goal.

And I also said...

>>Evolution is not necessarily an increase in complexity

To which you tried to make me look stupid (I'll do it myself with no help,
thanks :))....

>Uhhh? It looks like we are now beginning to admit that
>there is such a thing. That's progress. SEe a dictionary
>for these words

> evolution, evolve, devolve,...

I hate to disappoint you but you can't learn evolutionary theory from a
dictionary. Behind all those names you love to loath there is meaning, Mark,
and we learn the meanings too.
I have never said evolution never results in an increase in complexity. I
have disputed firstly your criteria for measuring complexity and second that
evolution always result in an increase in complexity. It clearly does
not, e.g. a change in gene frequencies or the secondary degeneration of
structures in e.g. leeches which results in a more derived but less 'complex'

I also pointed out...

>>We are not descended from chimps
>>We are both descended from a common ancestor

and you smarted...

>Cheap shot. Chimps are used as models for CA whenever it
>suits the fancy of those who want to try to "prove"

If you don't want me to take cheap shots don't set up such easy targets.

>>None of these statements denies the increase in complexity in _some_
>>organisms as a consequence of mutation/adaptation/drift/recombination etc.

>Good. This is progress.

Oh thank you, I feel so much better having finally got it right...

>>Degree of complexity depends on the character you analyse.

>Hmmm.. oh yes, the bird foot is so complex compared to the human foot :-)
>And the leopard tail is soooooooooo complex compared to the
>elephant tail..... My, sooooooooo complex.

I'm at a loss. Why is this so difficult to grasp?
Would you be prepared to admit that the hearing system of bats is more complex
than ours? Yet bats are clearly less intelligent.
How about the digestive system of ruminants? Wow, all those stomachs. Yet
even I can out-think a cow.
How about bacterial dna polymerases that can withstand heat up to 94'C. More
'advanced' than ours? No great thinkers there.
Viruses which knock out our immune systems? Are they less advanced than our
immune systems?

For someone who sets such store by the writings of SF authors you have
surprisingly little imagination.


Bill Burnett -
Scottish Association for Marine Science
P.O. Box 3, Oban, Argyll PA34 4AD, UK