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

From: Thomas Buckner (
Date: Tue Feb 01 2005 - 18:32:46 MST

--- Phil Goetz <> wrote:

> > 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
I have lately read that humans are at the
mid-point in size between the smallest physical
objects (subatomic particles) and the largest
(stars) and are also among the most complex
objects in the universe; anything very much
larger cannot have complex internal structure due
to gravity. One might expect from this fact alone
that humans are about as complex as they can get,
as far as physical evolution is concerned, and I
think that this is the case.
Humans are getting far more complex culturally,
technologically, and in every other way open to
them. Somatically, it's hard to see how they can.

Tom Buckner

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