Re: great chain of being

H. M. Hubey (
26 Oct 1995 00:23:39 -0400

Geoffrey Norman Watson <> writes:

>On 25 Oct 1995, Alex Duncan wrote:

>> In article <> H. M. Hubey,
>> writes:
>> >The degree to which PC has invaded science never ceases to amaze
>> >me. What now? Am I being accused of being racist toward bacteria
>> >and fish?
>> From a cat's perspective, we're primitive. Evolution has probably been
>> occuring for ~4 Byr here on earth. IOW -- ALL organisms on earth belong
>> to lineages that have been evolving for 4 Byr.

>I realise that this is a reply to H.M. Hubey, so I have not read the original
>post :), but I think that this response is a little confusing.

Thank you very much for your interest in the matter :-)..

I guess I'm not the only one that's having problems with
getting confused :-)..

>In arguing that " A is more highly evolved than B" is nonsense it seems to
>imply that "A is more evolved than B" is nonsense and simply to equate
>evolution with the elapsed time for which a lineage has been extant.

YOu're right of course. But I actually wrote what i wrote to be
ornery. The problem is that there are several senses in which
the words like /evolve/, /evolution/, /devolve/ etc are used.
But that's no big deal; lots of words have these multiple meanings
or shades of meanings. The problem here is that, as in others
like this, some folks want to use only a single way of looking
at things and exclude everything else.

>However this would seem to render the concept of differential rates
>of evolution nonsensical too. Evolution involves change but the rate and
>consequent degree of change is variable.

YOu sound like one of those radicals who wants to pervert this
field (evolution, PA etc) into one of differentials, integrals,
and all sorts of other mathematical mumbo jumbo :-)..

Why can't you guys leave things alone and go back to your
own field and post there :-)..

>complexity. And complexity in diversity - the insects, flowering plants.
>And relational complexity - between organisms which depend on one another.
>Since evolution proceeds in small steps from a simple base-line, complexity
>can only be achieved over time, so the more complex products can ONLY be
>produced by more mature evolutionary systems.

The same idea can be found in Dragons of Eden, Carl Sagan. There's
a very good correlation between information (measured in bits)
and what you're saying i.e. complexity of organisms and yes
we are at the top of it all, just like we are at the top
of the food chain. That's what evolution has been about :-)..
to produce us. And yes, I am a human chauvinist :-)..

HUmans first; worms, insects, fishes and other animals come
after us.

>Geoffrey Watson
>(Note: I am a Computer Scientist, not a Biologist !!)

I guessed that :-).,.


Regards, Mark