RE: the nature of evolutionary change in human groups

From: Alexanian, Moorad (alexanian@uncw.edu)
Date: Mon Mar 17 2003 - 08:55:35 EST

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    I just cited crystals as an example of discrete groups. That is all.
    Moorad

            -----Original Message-----
            From: RFaussette@aol.com [mailto:RFaussette@aol.com]
            Sent: Monday, March 17, 2003 8:03 AM
            To: asa@calvin.edu
            Subject: the nature of evolutionary change in human groups
            
            
            In a message dated 3/17/03 6:49:43 AM Eastern Standard Time,
    oleary@sympatico.ca writes:
            
            
            

                    "In group theory, there are discrete and continuous
    groups. Discrete
                    groups are those studied in crystallography and
    solid-state physics and
                    the elements of the group cannot be obtained by means of
    infinitesimal
                    changes. However, the continuous groups are such that
    finite
                    transformation can indeed be made up by infinitesimal
    transformations.
                    Of course, it seems to me that mutations would always
    involve finite
                    changes rather than truly continuous changes."
                    
                    This is an important point. You have captured exactly
    the problem that
                    many of us have about Darwin's slow series of steps. No
    one doubts that
                    gradual warming causes the river ice to break, or that
    it can suddenly
                    start to crack up on a given day, having been warmed for
    some time.
                    However, some group happenings are, as you say,
    "discrete."
                    

            I am trying to understand your arguments and find a relevant
    analogy - I do not understand how the behavior of crystals can tell you
    anyhting about human gorup behavior, but I can suggest a book, Paul
    Colinvaux's Fates Of Nations, A biological theory of history (cambridge
    u press, 1980). He provides excellent examples of how advances in
    technology change the nature of human competing groups - sudden advances
    in technology force the response and refocus of the discipline of a
    human group as it embraces the new technology gaining an edge over its
    competitors. Strict Darwinism only works at the level of the individual
    - group behavior is governed by ecology and niche theory - as
    individuals specialize in a group they become group dependent and
    leaving the group and their niche specialization would cause a
    catastrophic drop in their fitness relative to other individuals who are
    in a specialized group - its talked about in wilson's book - but
    colinvaux provides examples of niche theory at work throughout history
            rich
            



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