Re: Evolution predictions and medicine: (was re: Challenge)

From: Moorad Alexanian (
Date: Thu Oct 11 2001 - 15:05:39 EDT

  • Next message: george murphy: "Re: Evolution predictions and medicine: (was re: Challenge)"

    Inheritance and genealogy is limited to one type of being. We do not talk
    about the genealogy or inheritance of dogs in man's past, do we? Try that
    with a Mormon friend.

    We have mutations in physics and we do not invoke the origin of the elements
    in the Big Bang to know about them and work with them. I don't see why it is
    not the same in biology?

     Consider natural selection. The emergence of resistant pathogens is just
    the same as the breeding of dogs. One begins with pathogens X and ends up
    with pathogens X. In the case of AIDS, why do we still call them AIDS
    viruses if they have changed their nature so dramatically?

    Physicists can forget all about the Big Bang and still do 99.9999% of all
    the physics that there is. Show me why that is not the same in medicine and
    even biology.


    ----- Original Message -----
    From: <>
    To: <>
    Sent: Thursday, October 11, 2001 1:40 PM
    Subject: Evolution predictions and medicine: (was re: Challenge)

    > Moorad wrote to George:
    > >I grant all what you say but all the theories you mention give rise
    > >to predictions. What are the predictions that evolutionary theory has
    > >made in medicine, for instance, that could not have been made without
    > >invoking evolutionary theory?
    > [...]
    > I'm a bit confused.
    > If I take the question literally, the answer is none.
    > Understanding of biology (and other sciences) involves numerous core
    > discoveries. We could call it a bundle of core ideas and known
    > mechanisms. Depending on a particular case or question, a particular
    > subset of known phenomena/ideas may provide sufficient explanation.
    > Evolutionary "theory" (actually theories) may encompass a particular
    > set (actually, most of biological understanding probably relates to
    > evolution) and particular cases/examples of evolution may involve a
    > subset of these. Medicine, as it relates to biology also pulls from
    > the same pool or bundle and again, specific cases in medicine will
    > rely more heavily on a particular subset of the bundle.
    > As for the relationships between medicine and evolutionary studies,
    > in specific cases they'll be overlap of the core mechanisms.
    > Thus it's hard to ask what exclusive predictions could be made
    > from evolutionary theory wrt medicine because any such predictions
    > would necessarily require a sharing of mechanisms & ideas. You
    > can't easily disentangle the two.
    > So how would individual mechanisms or components of evolutionary
    > theories have impact on medicine? That can be asked.
    > Consider common descent with modification: This invokes inheritance
    > and genealogy -- Definitely has a strong impact on our understanding
    > of the transmission of some diseases (e.g. Tay-Sachs).
    > Consider mutation: Has impact on cancer, antibiotic resistance,
    > and microbial pathogenesis.
    > Consider natural selection: Explains the emergence of resistant
    > pathogen populations, new pathogens and new mechanisms of
    > pathogenesis.
    > Consider neutral theory: Explains much of the diversity in
    > human and pathogen populations that can contribute to
    > differential responses to treatments under different
    > conditions.
    > Basically, I don't the think question being asked makes
    > much sense because the predictions made by "evolutionary
    > theory" can never be considered exclusive to just
    > evolution because all of biological thought derives
    > from the same pool. That separation doesn't exist because
    > evolutionary theory is not composed of a single, stand-alone
    > theory.
    > Suggested: Ernst Mayr's _The Growth of Biological Thought_
    > or Sober's _Philosophy of Biology_ for background reading.
    > Regards,
    > Tim Ikeda (
    > --------------------------------------------------------------------
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    > .

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