RE: [asa] Intelligence

From: Dehler, Bernie <>
Date: Fri Jan 02 2009 - 23:19:30 EST

Randy- thanks for that insight and relaying the info. I found this concept of "brain-chauvinistic" to have merit. I think there must be some evolutionary intelligence mechanisms that have yet to be discovered and identified. I agree we are too brain-chavinistic, I think. Consider the Venus Flytrap. How does it know when to trap a fly without a brain? I guess there are also animals without brains, too (spnges?)... and they are smart enough to eat, reproduce, etc. I think I saw more info along those lines here:

Evolution deniers say evolution couldn't have happened as quickly as supposed. Scientists know many of the evolutionary mechanisms, but I think we still need to discover more, along the lines of this intelligence aspect. I think there is an aspect of natural intelligence also guiding evolution. As you say, that may be a new field for ID, but undesired as it may undermine their hope of an external designer.


From: [] On Behalf Of Randy Isaac
Sent: Friday, January 02, 2009 2:12 PM
Subject: [asa] Intelligence

The discussion about ID for the last 25 years has focused on the design aspect, with some discussion about the intelligent agent and some about information, but much less discussion about intelligence, per se. Perhaps we take for granted that we know something about intelligence. My understanding of intelligence has just been challenged by a most interesting article.

This article is chapter 5 in the book recently published by Templeton Foundation Press, "The Deep Structure of Biology", edited by Simon Conway Morris and subtitled "Is Convergence Sufficiently Ubiquitous to Give a Directional Signal?" This particular chapter is written by Anthony Trewavas and is titled "Aspects of Plant Intelligence: Convergence and Evolution". Trewavas has published extensively in peer-reviewed literature on plant intelligence.

In this chapter, Trewavas discusses "the biological meaning of intelligence" and cites 8 possible types of intelligence, including bacterial intelligence, genomic intelligence, and species intelligence as well as animal intelligence. He concludes that section with the following paragraph:

"Apart from the higher animals that use the centralized activity of the brain to process information and in which classical intelligence is located, all other biological systems possess a decentralized intelligence that is a consequence of behavior by the whole system. All forms of described intellligence above involve a network of interacting constituents of varying degrees of complexity, whether it be molecules, cells, or individual organisms, through which information flows. The common important property that makes the network intelligent is that the connection strengths in the network can be varied, thus enabling information flow to be directed into diffrerent channels as required. Different signals can be directed to produce different responses, but cohesion between different information pathways will result in synergistic, cooperative, or competitive effects beween numerous signals. The simplest forms of memory represent semipermanent alterations in the speed or the specific channel of information flow from particular signals to their response implementor." (emphases in the original)

In other words, intelligence can be a broader concept than we usually consider from our "brain-chauvinistic", as he puts it, perspective. He says "The word intelligence derives from the Latin inter-legere, literally to 'choose between,'...Intelligence consists of two distinguishable components. There is the organism capable of intelligent responses, and there is the environmental problem that necessitates the application of intelligence for its potential solution. Intelligent behavior will not emerge or be detected without the right circumstances (such as finding food) to elicit it." "Plants and animals differ fundamentally in the way they express behavior in response to signals. In plants, it is phenotypic plasticity; in animals, it is movement."

This leads to an intriguing and stimulating possibility. The "intelligent cause" cited by the ID community as being the "best inference" from the patterns in living cells, need not be an independent, external agent, but the intelligence of the cell itself. Or to say it in another way, the design of the genome (or any living system) may be due to the intelligence of the genome (or that particular system).


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Received on Fri Jan 2 23:20:01 2009

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