How evolution works

Domenick Venezia venezia at zgi.com
Sun Jun 26 13:11:18 EST 1994

Malcolm McMahon at University of Warwick, Coventry, UK

>Those wretched behaviourists have certainly created quite a climate of
>"political correctness" haven't they where scientists are so embarrassed
>to talk about things like purpose? No, evolution does not "thrash about
>blindly" while reason goes straight to the answer. Both search solution
>spaces feeling for "warm" and "cold" paths.

Wait a minute.  Are you saying evolution is goal oriented?  That it has
some target in mind?  I understand that natural selection could be 
considered a monte carlo search of a space with local minima (is there 
a global minima?) with a fitness function of, well, fitness, but to 
ascribe a purposefullness to this search smacks to me of theology.  

Also I don't think I said "reason goes straight to the answer".  Mine 
certainly doesn't - I do a helluva lot of thrashing.  And what does that 
have to do with the discussion anyway?  Did I miss some posts?

And finally I'm not afraid to speak of things like purpose.  I believe 
that little yeasties and other critters have the personal purpose of 
survival and reproduction and that their behaviors can be interpreted 
thusly.  But I don't think that reactants in a chemical reaction have 
any personal purpose.  Viruses on the otherhand are a bit stickier.  They 
look to me like a combination of anima and inanima - but I digress.  I 
will not believe in a Gaia-like theology of "purpose" to large diffuse 
systems like evolution until I see some evidence.  Belief without evidence
is at best wishfull thinking, and at worst, religion. 

Domenick Venezia
ZymoGenetics, Inc.
Seattle, WA
venezia at zgi.com

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