brain sizes: Einstein's and women's: pop quiz

Cary Kittrell cary at
Tue Sep 3 14:09:04 EST 2002

In article  "John Knight" <jwknight at> writes:
<"Cary Kittrell" <cary at> wrote in message
<news:akm0vh$cls$1 at
<> In article  "John Knight" <jwknight at> writes:
<> <
<> <"Bob LeChevalier" <lojbab at> wrote in message
<> <news:1f55mukbu39srm1uuq3rdqnke33pa3ah9q at
<>     {..}
<> <> >How many more?  The factorial of 170 is 7.3 x 10^306.
<> <>
<> <> Nonsense as usual.  There would not be more breeds than there are
<> <> dogs, and dog breeding is anything but random.
<> <
<> <The POINT is exactly that!  Dog breeding is not random.  And now we have
<> <explain to you what "factorial" means?  If dog breeding WAS random, and
<> <there are 170 different breeds, then the potentional number of
<> <between all these breeds is 7.3 x 10^306.
<> <
<> <Please don't say you don't know what a "factorial" is.
<> I do.  It's that little button on your calculator you constantly
<> mis-apply.
<> The number of unique pairs of 170 objects is
<> (170 * 169) / 2, or about 14,000.  You're only off by
<> three hundred orders of magnitude or so, which is not all
<> that unusual.
<The correct number of combinations is the factorial of 170.  Nobody said
<anything about "unique pairs of 170 objects", did they?  We were discussing
<the total number of combinations that could exist if there weren't solid
<statistical boundaries between different breeds.

SNORT!  Right you are John -- but only if dogs are so polyploid as to put
orchids to shame.  Hint: no matter how many generations you breed, 
your mutt is only going to have two sets of chromosomes, not 170
sets.  And since there isn't a Schnauzer genetic locus and a 
Beagle genetic locus and a Pomeranian genetic locus and a 
Australian Shepherd locus and a Setter locus and .... since, in
fact, "breeds" are merely differing combinations of a handful
of genes, your 170! result is absurdly off.

Fascinatingly, you're exhibiting exactly the same scientific
misconception that Darwin himself brought up in criticizing his
own theory -- the "drop-of-ink" model of heredity, which
implied that genetic material was analog, and capable of being
infinitely diluted.  Darwin, who unlike you was painfully honest
and would thus spontaneously bring up objections to his own
work, suffered from the sad circumstance that the work of Gregor
Mendel, which would have relieved Darwin of his objections to his own work, 
had sunk without a trace, and was not rediscovered for some decades.  

You, however, have no similar excuse for your own ignorance of genetics.

<> All of which is irrelevant, because "breed" is a purely human
<> construct, just like "good" poker hands and "bad" poker hands.
<> When two breeds mate, they do not produce a new breed, unless
<> the AKC says they did.  They produce mutts, and no one keeps
<> track of the "breeds" of mutt.
<Humans have almost nothing to do with the different breeds of foxes or
<wolves or tigers or lions or birds or turtles, yet exactly the same
<statistical boundaries are present, aren't they?   If even ONE of these
<thousands of species could just jump from one species to another, 

"jump from one species to another"?  Jesus, it's worse than I thought.

<then the
<world would be flooded with all the necessary intermediate combinations,
<wouldn't it?

I'm looking at a six of hearts, a two and nine of clubs, a three of
diamonds, and the queen of spades.  Obviously, by your reasoning, 
I must have played 2,598,959 other hands of poker to get to this

<If the cross-breed between two different breeds of wolves were viable, then
<there would be more of these cross-breeds than there are original breeds.
<Same with dogs.  

Get yourself a nice chunk of Ordivician limestone and stare at it for
a week, then come back and we'll talk.  Or to put it another way:
stepped on any trilobites lately?  There used to be at least 15,000
species of trilobites.  Jabbed your toe on a conodont?  Run from
any of the thecodonts?  Been stepped on by a megatherium?  Lost
a pet to a smilodon?

99+++ percent of all species that ever existed are extinct.  
Yes, in fact, there have been millions and millions of your
putative "intermediates".  The great great great majority are dust.

-- cary

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