Re: Gould and complexity

From: Phil Goetz (
Date: Wed Feb 02 2005 - 23:14:07 MST

--- fudley <> wrote:

> On Tue, 1 Feb 2005 "Phil Goetz"
> <> said:
> > the point of the book is that this increase in the
> > complexity of the most complex species is due
> > to a random walk
> The random walk of mutation is only half the story
> of evolution, the
> other half is non random natural selection.

You misunderstand. "Random walk" does not refer
to mutation. The claim is that evolution leads
species to adapt better to the environment, and
it is as likely that a simpler organism will be
better-adapted, as that a more complex organism
will be better-adapted. Evolution DRIVES adaptive
change from complexity to simplicity as often
as it drives adaptive change from simplicity to

> Gould makes much of this left wall right wall
> difference and itís true
> that there is a minimum complexity for life, so at
> that point any change
> must be in the direction of more complexity, but it
> seems to me that
> stopped being a significant factor in the workings
> of evolution two
> billion years ago or more.

It seems to me that you haven't read the book.
Most species, and most organisms, are near
this left wall. Dogs and horses and chimps and
humans are only a tiny, tiny fraction
of the great mass of species, the vast majority
of which are bacteria, and a large percentage
of which are beetles and ants.

- Phil

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