Re: Ethics (was FAI (aka 'Reality Hacking'))

From: Phil Goetz (
Date: Mon Jan 31 2005 - 20:49:20 MST

> Stephen Gould's reputation is trash among serious
> evolutionary biologists,
> not always because Gould gets it wrong, but because
> Gould claims, as his
> own brilliant revolutionary ideas, warped and
> dumbed-down versions of quite
> ordinary tenets of modern evolutionary biology.

Gould has a political agenda, and the way he
treated EO Wilson when Sociobiology came out is
almost unforgivable in a scientist, but that is
not a refutation.

> It's true that there's no steady increase in species
> complexity, but the
> reason given above is not correct. Rather, natural
> selection tends to
> increase genetic complexity, as genomes accrete
> additional adaptive
> functions, *until* natural selection hits the right
> boundary, which is the
> limited selection pressure available to maintain
> genetic information
> against the noise of mutation. See Williams 1966
> for more details on this.

See Gould's book, which you apparently are dismissing
without having read, for Gould's data, which is not
consistent with the reason you have just given.

His data (which he admits is not his data; he does
not claim to be originating the idea, only collecting
together and popularizing data gathered by many
others) involves studies of the changes in species
over time that show that there is no such process
going on as you suggest. To summarize:
At any given time, a species that is at neither the
right wall nor the left wall is roughly equally
likely to get less or more complex. Natural
selection does not tend to increase complexity.
That is Gould's argument.

0 Phil

Do you Yahoo!?
Yahoo! Mail - Easier than ever with enhanced search. Learn more.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:50 MDT