Re: P.Johnson on James Dobson

Moorad Alexanian (
Mon, 22 Nov 1999 08:53:32 -0500

If "two-headedness" in snakes arose from mutations, then why are they not
prevalent? I thought two heads think better than one. I suppose that the
answer is that they may have to be in separate bodies.


-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Kouchoo <>
To: <>
Date: Sunday, November 21, 1999 11:48 PM
Subject: Re: P.Johnson on James Dobson

>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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