Re: P.Johnson on James Dobson

Richard Kouchoo (
Mon, 22 Nov 1999 15:47:21 +1000

My previous post:
>>However the "two headed" snake scenario is just an example of the
>>duplication of 'code' by error (mutation). To create a "wing", a
>>totally NEW structure, NEW code is needed. I think this is where
>>Johnson and others are coming from.

Reply from Tim
>I think that is why Johnson et al. are not taken seriously.
>The wing is not an entirely "new" structure per se, but an
>adaptation of a previous one. Yes, there is "new" information
>involved in wing evolution, and the source could well have been
>"error (mutation)". Assuming that "two-headedness" in snakes
>arose from mutations then that certainly is "new" code.
>Johnson et al (and I include Lee Spetner here) have NOT properly
>defined what they mean by biological information -- certainly not
>in any consistent or quantifiable way. I've been through this before
>with Spetner and have seen nothing added by Johnson (see the
>evolution reflector @ Calvin for past exchanges on the subject)

Thanks for your reply Tim. I am currently involved in post-grad research in
informatics (I have no background in biology) and being 'information
science minded,' I have understood (or perhaps misunderstood) the process
of biological evolution as a net increase in new & useful "code and data"
within the gnome over time. Admittedly, the influencing factor has really
been Lee Spetner's "Not By Chance" which did make a lot of sense. For
example, how would a new functional feature arise without additional coding
and data? (and I think this is in fact what Spetner means by 'information')

As far as the evolution of the wing is concerned, how would scales evolve
into feathers exactly? What is the actual mechanism? Is it simply natural
selection acting on mutations? Surely new (or already existing but dormant)
genetic code is needed for the transition. Given environmental cues, the
code is activated and morphological change is hence possible. Relevant
"code and additional data" need to be present to 'convert' scales (input)
into feathers (output) as initiated by environmental factors ('software
flags'), given enough time.

I would appreciate any further comment, critique or clarification of any of
the concepts here.

Best regards
Richard Kouchoo

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