How evolution works

Domenick Venezia venezia at zgi.com
Sun Jun 26 13:11:18 EST 1994


Malcolm McMahon at University of Warwick, Coventry, UK

>Those wretched behaviourists have certainly created quite a climate of
>"political correctness" haven't they where scientists are so embarrassed
>to talk about things like purpose? No, evolution does not "thrash about
>blindly" while reason goes straight to the answer. Both search solution
>spaces feeling for "warm" and "cold" paths.

Wait a minute.  Are you saying evolution is goal oriented?  That it has
some target in mind?  I understand that natural selection could be 
considered a monte carlo search of a space with local minima (is there 
a global minima?) with a fitness function of, well, fitness, but to 
ascribe a purposefullness to this search smacks to me of theology.  

Also I don't think I said "reason goes straight to the answer".  Mine 
certainly doesn't - I do a helluva lot of thrashing.  And what does that 
have to do with the discussion anyway?  Did I miss some posts?

And finally I'm not afraid to speak of things like purpose.  I believe 
that little yeasties and other critters have the personal purpose of 
survival and reproduction and that their behaviors can be interpreted 
thusly.  But I don't think that reactants in a chemical reaction have 
any personal purpose.  Viruses on the otherhand are a bit stickier.  They 
look to me like a combination of anima and inanima - but I digress.  I 
will not believe in a Gaia-like theology of "purpose" to large diffuse 
systems like evolution until I see some evidence.  Belief without evidence
is at best wishfull thinking, and at worst, religion. 

Domenick Venezia
ZymoGenetics, Inc.
Seattle, WA
venezia at zgi.com





More information about the Ageing mailing list