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Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 21 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.  Go to page Previous  1, 2
So much is starting to make sense! 
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Post Re: So much is starting to make sense!
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that replicating/reproducing processes will inevitably dominate is a statistical law, not an actual force

I don't get the distinction
Quote:
or "motive" driving genes to use the system of which they are a constituent.

Of course genes don't have motives! The processes you have so neatly described have the net effect of more genes. As far as what the engine is that drives it all... it is really point of view, analysis, way of looking at things. Bodies "for" genes or genes "for" bodies; "for" doesn't exist in nature. It is metaphor to help us understand a dynamic.




Thu Nov 14, 2002 10:08 pm
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Post Re: So much is starting to make sense!
Did one of you mail me a package from England? I received a package of published and unpublished material from someone who apparently wishes to remain annonymous. I can respect this wish and not share your personal identity with the board, but it would be nice to know who you are. As of right now I don't have a clue who this stuff is from, which diminishes its importance to me.

Chris

Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 10/30/05 4:12 pm



Fri Nov 15, 2002 12:46 am
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Post Re: So much is starting to make sense!
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I don't get the distinction


You mean the difference between a statistical law and an actual force or cause?

Generally speaking, a law does not have any explanatory power even when it is a 'hard' law, e.g. the inverse square law of gravity. That's simply an observation of a phenomenon that always occurs, but it in no way explains why gravity or why its strength falls off at that ratio with distance, etc., etc. The law cannot be considered a cause in any sense of the word.

This is doubly so with statistical laws which are even further removed from the phenomena occurring within the system. A statistical law is simply a generalized description of a system's behavior as a whole. It does not point to (much less explain) the properties of the constituents of the system; nor can you predict the system behavior from the properties or behavior of the constituents.

For example, it is wrong to say, 'Entropy causes dissipation.' There is no such thing as an entropic force. Similarly, it is wrong to say, 'probabilities cause the penny to land heads half the time,' or, 'population genetics cause genes to evolve replicating processes.'

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As far as what the engine is that drives it all... it is really point of view, analysis, way of looking at things. Bodies "for" genes or genes "for" bodies; "for" doesn't exist in nature. It is metaphor to help us understand a dynamic.


But metaphors are very powerful, as Dr. Bloom has gone to great lengths to illustrate. If the metaphor that helps us to understand something is flawed, then our understanding is flawed. If "for" doesn't exist in nature, then the metaphor is flawed and should be abandoned because it leads to false explanations and understandings.

I don't necessarilly want to make a big deal out this particular example, but just that it's an illustrative one in terms of the way the metaphor plays - it all but forces one to interpret things a certain way and to make certain conclusions which may not be called for and/or supported by the evidence. Of course no one seriously working on the issue believes or intends to suggest that genes have motives, that nature works in a teleological manner, or etc. - that's why motive was put in quotes; but that is the effect in terms of understanding it because the underlying paradigm and theory can only be expressed in such misleading or inappropriate terms.

That's seen in the way admittedly contrived forces and properties crop up everywhere, e.g. "motive" and a "selfish" quality for genes. Those things don't actually exist, but assuming them in some abstract/nebulous form is necessary to understanding the model. I take that as indicative of fundamental flaws in the model that the metaphor represents (else the model would evoke a different metaphor).

I think this is especially the case in evolutionary theories where it seriously does make a difference what the engine is and how it's driven... one can't say it's just a point of view because what occurs is intimately dependent upon irreversible processes. In other words, it's not like a math equation or particicle interactions or relativistic frames of reference where there's an equivalence between the expressions on either side of the equals sign - there is no equals sign in evolutionary processes. If you run the 'calculation' with genes for bodies, say, you get a different answer than you would running it with bodies for genes. With one, you get the sum of the parts, while with the other you get a whole greater than that sum.




Tue Nov 19, 2002 12:06 am


Post Re: So much is starting to make sense!
Quote:D -->>D id one of you mail me a package from England?


That would be telling! :)

*Ani gets put under the lights*

Would you believe I was kidnapped, taken to England, and forced to become a slave to Kaos agents intent on causing catastrophic confusion by disiminating an overload of information?

Er... Would you believe I flew to England to mail the stuff in order to conceal my identity... hey, I wanted to remain anonymous, right?

Yeah, yeah, ok. Would you believe it wasn't me at all who sent the stuff?

(heeesh, I'm really dating myself with tv allusions, aren't I?)




Tue Nov 19, 2002 12:13 am
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Post Re: So much is starting to make sense!
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Generally speaking, a law does not have any explanatory power even when it is a 'hard' law, e.g. the inverse square law of gravity. That's simply an observation of a phenomenon that always occurs, but it in no way explains why gravity or why its strength falls off at that ratio with distance, etc., etc. The law cannot be considered a cause in any sense of the word.

This is doubly so with statistical laws which are even further removed from the phenomena occurring within the system. A statistical law is simply a generalized description of a system's behavior as a whole. It does not point to (much less explain) the properties of the constituents of the system; nor can you predict the system behavior from the properties or behavior of the constituents

Gravity explains why apples fall. It does not explain gravity. All of modern physics is based on statistical laws. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle proves that it cannot be otherwise. Even a law so basic as the conservation of matter and energy is only "true" on a statistical basis; if it were absolute, it would violate Heisneberg. Quantum mechanics explains why the photons-through-splits experiment yeilds distinct lines; it does not explain why particles are both discrete and waves.

ALL scientific laws, theories, explanations point to underlying processes which are the way they are, and do not care whether or how we explain them. Emergent properties of complex organisms are exactly that-emergent properties, based always on the simpler properties of that of which they are built. I still don't understand what "other" you are trying to see in these systems, but science says: it isn't there.




Tue Nov 19, 2002 8:23 am
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Post Re: So much is starting to make sense!
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All of modern physics is based on statistical laws. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle proves that it cannot be otherwise.


I have to disagree with that. There is a significant difference between a constant and an average, esp. in terms what you're explaining and what shape those explanations take. If, for example, the conservation of energy were not absolute, all of physics would have to be tossed in the garbage. I think it's a misunderstanding of the uncertainty principle to say it suggests everything is fundamentally statitistical. The uncertainty principle states, roughly, you cannot know everything about a particle with precision. It does not say you cannot know one or another thing with precision - you can do that fine (at the cost of being uncertain about other things).

Perhaps you are thinking more in terms of the wave function equations? There it's helpful to note that the probability referred to in wave function is not the same type of 'chance' probability that you find with, say, rolling dice; and it's more properly called amplitude. There the Schroedinger equations are completely deterministic so there is no uncertainty or probabilistic statements; those are only introduced when taken to the classical level. Semi-classical theories, typicallly with a systemic principle (e.g. twistor theory, quantum loop qravity, Barbour's "mist", et al), are much more productive in terms of completeness of explanation, and in their ability to save from the ravages of indeterminism that most fundamental of tenets in science that says events do not occur arbitrarily: there is a cause/reason for them to happen as they do. (One of the things systemic theories are very helpful at is explaining randomness in a deterministic world.) In many ways, the systemic approach saves reductive answers from what would otherwise be failure.

Quote:
Emergent properties of complex organisms are exactly that-emergent properties, based always on the simpler properties of that of which they are built. I still don't understand what "other" you are trying to see in these systems, but science says: it isn't there.


The point is that one cannot predict what those emergent properties will be based on the constituent properties (one cannot even predict that there will be emergent properties). If you are going with the assumption that the constituent properties are all that's needed to fully explain the higher level, then you must be able to make those predictions. Unfortunately, in many cases reductive answers fail in that, and this is where you get folks talking about "the illusion of fill-in-the-blank" - basically, their theory can't explain or account for something, so they ignore it - but that can, and sometimes does, simply lead to a bunch of silliness (taken to it's ultimate, it becomes 'there is no objective reality' which is about as unscientific an attitude as I can imagine).

There are certainly many scientists who feel strict reductionism is the only answer, so you have some good company for holding that position; and there are plenty of ultra-Darwinians for strict reductionism for the evolutionary context. But it's far from a unanimous opinion, and you can just as legitimately say: science says it is there. The fact that E.O. Wilson, once a major champion of strict reduction, is changing his tune and now promoting his Concilliance concept which attempts to incorporate some systemic principles ought to suggest that the consensus is shifting; a more telling case is with Murray Gell-Mann who, disatisfied with his own Nobel Prize winning theory (quantum chromodynamics), founded the Sante Fe Institute precisely to address the notorious failure of a strictly reductive approach to explain certain things. And the systemic approaches have thus far proved very promising at explaining those things, e.g. origin of life, macroevolution, ecology, consciousness, classical phenomena in a quantum context, etc.

As far as the "other" - I'm not really sure what your question is. I'm not saying reductive anwers are inherently bad (they are most often the best and most appropriate approach), and it's not that this stuff is mutually exclusive of or conflicts with the reductive explanations of the system's constituents and their behavior when looked at as discrete events (i.e. isolated from the system as a whole). Perhaps it's better to look at it rather as "in addition" in the sense that there are, for example, laws of organization. That has proven to be a successful approach in widely different systems, where a general law applies to a type of system, and it doesn't matter what the constituents are or what their properties are, the same patterns, etc. always occur. That gives you the necessary predictability that the reductive answers lack.

If you're interested in seeing what this is all about, I'd recommend How Nature Works, by Per Bak, for the classical physics side of it (e.g. how it appears in simple systems like a pendulum or sandpile); The Quark and the Jaguar, by Murray Gell-Mann for the quantum-to-classical ideas and general applicability; and At Home in the Universe, by Stuart Kuaffman for complex systems (e.g. origin of life, thermodynamics in open systems, and adaptive systems in general).




Fri Nov 22, 2002 12:44 pm
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