Re: Random thoughts

From: Moorad Alexanian (
Date: Tue Oct 30 2001 - 08:41:46 EST

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    Hello Marcio. No long range predictions can be made in systems that exhibit
    deterministic chaos. That is the nature of sensitivity with intial
    condition. You indicated that "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 (sic) processes such as development to be too
    fragile." I used "more jargon and less science" to refer to "some people"
    not to you! One cannot make big claims in some fields as physicists make in
    their own and then when confronted with it one cannot just get out by saying
    that that field is not like physics!! Please do not identify me with the ID
    movement. I believe in a Creator and I believe my whole human experience,
    that of a physicist and that of a plain human being, makes more sense with
    such a belief than otherwise. Moorad

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Marcio Pie" <>
    To: <>
    Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2001 7:39 AM
    Subject: RE: Random thoughts

    > Hi Moorad. Thanks for your response.
    > > >> The following has been whirling in my brain for some time. I believe
    > > >> the study and attempts of predicting our weather is a much simpler
    > > problem
    > > >> than the study and attempts of predictions one can make in
    > > >> theory. It is well-known that the study of our weather leads to
    > > >> deterministic chaos, via the Lorenz equation and the so-called
    > > >> effect. Now, why doesn't the same occur in any theory that attempts
    > > >> 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.
    > >
    > >One cannot make long range prediction in system that are very sensitive
    > >initial conditions. In addition, randomness would make forward or
    > >prediction even less possible.
    > You can make long range prediction if you know exactly the equations and
    > the initial conditions. That's why it is called deterministic chaos.
    > not true for stochastic processes.
    > > >> 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
    > > >> from the same entity in the past?
    > > >
    > > >They could, but that wouldn't be the most parsimonious explanation
    > > >the available evidence. I think most biologists are aware of that.
    > >
    > >That is the point that from the available evidence one cannot derive a
    > >definite conclusion.
    > Of course not. But there's very little room in science where your concept
    > of "definite conclusion" can be applied. Isn't it possible that I'm
    > actually an E.T., trying to convince you of some evolutionary process to
    > weaken your mind so that my planet can take over the earth? Now, serious.
    > What kind of evidence would convince you?
    > > >> I believe that such complex systems are
    > > >> chaotic and attempts of predictions are totally baseless. Also,
    > > >> 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
    > > >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.
    > >
    > >I think that is just more jargon and less science. That is the difficulty
    > >with
    > >a theory that is just words and can never attain the rigor of a true
    > I can't understand you, Moorad. You ask something, I give you my answer,
    > you dismiss it as "just more jargon and less science". What's the jargon
    > you are referring to? chaos? homeostasis? order? I chose terms which you
    > would be more familiar with, being a physicist. If I wanted to hide behind
    > jargon I could start talking about gene regulatory networks and stuff like
    > that. My impression is that you are demanding a level of rigor from
    > evolutionary theory that can only be found in parts of physics. Is ecology
    > a true science? how about linguistics? how about political science? If you
    > really think that science is either physics or stamp collecting, I can
    > understand why you think that evolutionary theory is not science. Anyway,
    > look forward to know what kind of evidence would convince you that
    > evolutionary theory is scientific. Alternatively, you can show me how ID
    > would do a better job, both in terms of explanation and in prediction.
    > Peace,
    > Marcio
    > ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    > Marcio R. Pie
    > Department of Biology
    > Boston University
    > 5 Cummington St.
    > Boston, MA 02215
    > Phone: (617) 353-6974
    > FAX: (617) 353-6340

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