Re: tree-climbing hominids

David Froehlich (
Wed, 11 Oct 1995 15:44:30 -0500

On 10 Oct 1995, H. M. Hubey wrote:

> >Evolution does not have a direction.
> Of course it does. It has one now and it's pointing in that
> direction. If we knew more we'd be able to point in the
> right direction. Actually I think some geneticists actually
> think so too and would be willing to start.

Let me make a statistical that you might actually understand. What you
have just implied is the same as saying "I have flipped this coin and it
has come up heads three times in a row. Therefore, I can predict the
next coin flip"

Pure, unadulterated bullshit!!!!

> Direction implies some idea of
> >where you are going and some implication that once started the
> >motion cannot be changed.
> Direction doesn't imply anything about knowing which way to
> go. If you want to define the word this way, then it's your
> problem.

The last time I looked at a vector (which is essentially what you are
argueing for evolution) It has a direction. Now with a vector you can
extrapolate in both directions. However, your basic misconception here
is that evolution bears any resemblance to a vector. If anything it is a
stochastichally random process mediated by selection. That selection may
have a direction at this moment is probably true given the same
selection pressures but to imply that it will continue is incorrect. The
selective pressures are not static and consequently you can not
extrapolate. Evolution is not a nice neat mathmatical equation that you
can solve for. Remember that niche space is N-dimensional, probably more
dimensions that we even realize.

> Evolution is a random process of mutation and
> >selection.
> Mutation doesn't have direction if the density function is
> symmetric. If not it has a direction. Selection certainly
> has a direction.

At this point yes, selection has a direction but it is not static and not

> Just because an organism has gone so far in one direction
> >does not mean that you can extrpolate future developments.
> I can understand why you would want to defend this point of
> view. If you don't we'll ask you to show the scientificity
> of your science by making predictions. Don't worry, I won't.

It might help if you actually learned something about evolutionary theory
before you try to converse with it. Evolutionary scientists do not try
to predict future events because the variables are not constant.
Selection is not static (just look at the changing ideas about beauty in
US society).

David J. Froehlich Phone: 512-471-6088
Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory Fax: 512-471-5973
J.J. Pickle Research Campus
The University of Texas, Austin, Texas 78712