Re: Random thoughts

From: Marcio Pie (
Date: Mon Oct 29 2001 - 17:13:37 EST

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    Hi Moorad,

    > The following has been whirling in my brain for some time. I believe that
    > the study and attempts of predicting our weather is a much simpler problem
    > than the study and attempts of predictions one can make in evolutionary
    > theory. It is well-known that the study of our weather leads to
    > deterministic chaos, via the Lorenz equation and the so-called butterfly
    > effect. Now, why doesn't the same occur in any theory that attempts to
    > predict the outcome from natural selection and random mutations?

    Because they represent different classes of phenomena. Chaos is
    deterministic; you can predict the future exactly if you know the
    equations and the initial conditions. OTOH, evolution has a very strong
    component of randomness, both through mutations and drift.

    > In
    > particular, why can't two totally different species, say a gnat and man, be
    > the evolved outcome of a common entity in the past? In addition, why should
    > two species that are close in DNA space now be considered to have evolved
    > from the same entity in the past?

    They could, but that wouldn't be the most parsimonious explanation given
    the available evidence. I think most biologists are aware of that.

    > I believe that such complex systems are
    > chaotic and attempts of predictions are totally baseless. Also, working
    > backwards in time is useless and arbitrary. Moorad

    Complex systems are not chaotic. Some people from the so-called
    "complexity sciences" suggest that the place where organisms should be is
    in the border between order and chaos. Too much homeostasis prevents
    evolution; not enough homeostasis would lead crutial processes such as
    development to be too fragile.


    Marcio R. Pie
    Department of Biology
    Boston University
    5 Cummington St.
    Boston, MA 02215

    Phone: (617) 353-6977
    FAX: (617) 353-6340

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