Re: The Real Place of Fuzziness in Anthropology

Bryant (
14 Aug 1996 22:29:15 -0600

In article <>,
Joel and Lynn Gazis-Sax <> wrote:

>But selection is not what we are talking about. What happens /after/ selection.
>Genotype is what shows up in the DNA. Phenotype is the actual expression.
>Suppose we take two genetically identical rats, keeping one in the lab and
>releasing one (with a chip implanted so we can find it again) into the
>wild. In a year, we bring both the rats back to a central point and do
>all the scientific measurements on them. What do we get? Two identical
>rats? At the level of the genes, yes, but beyond that level, these same
>building blocks have created some markedly different though similar animals.

Are you releasing them into comparable environments? Say, a mile apart
in the same forest? What marked differences would you expect to find?

Reaction norms are well documented; I'm certainly not arguing with your
point that epigenetic interactions between genes and environment count.
Just wondering how this fits with chaos theory.

>Make a clone of me and take it away. In a few years, bring us back together.
>Will we be exactly alike?

In what regard? The literature suggests that you'll be similar in some
regards, dissimilar (often in adaptively patterned, facultative ways) in

>That is what chaos theory teaches.

Epigenetics and reaction norms were somewhat understood long before chaos
theory arrived, and I've never seen it suggested before that
chaos theory sheds light on the developmental process. Frankly, I don't
even understand what explanatory power Chaos Theory offers (I'm not
assuming there is none; only that I don't see it).

For instance, isn't the principle of "Emergent Qualities" really just an
admission that we don't know the specific path functions involved in a process?