reply to Kerry on evolution -Reply

Wed Jul 19 19:12:55 MDT 1995

(Kerry's post condensed and appended below.)

"Offline-readers" and QWK I don't know about, but I use methods like
saving some messages onto discs and directories and such.  Also, when
I am catching up, I read one thread at a time, by following subject
lines, rather than reading everything in order of arrival.  Or you
could consider subbing to marxism-digest, if that would help.

Re: Science.  I am a scientist [biologist and anthropologist in
training] but I do not think 'science is out to discover unassailable
Truth for all time'.  If it were I could hardly have career plans to
overturn pre-existing "truth" and replace it with something better in
my field.  I was taught, and do believe, that anti-dogmatism is one
of science's best features.  We've been chewing on this topic on the
list a bit, and it was here that I heard someone blast Kuhn for
misrepresenting science as he looked back over physics that had
already been done and made up his story.  I don't read Kuhn, myself.

Now it may seem like splitting hairs, and I'm sure we have talked
past each other a bit, but I offer definitions in order to try to
stop that by clarifying meanings.  I offer to define evolution and
related terms and concepts because I have studied it a lot [BS degree
plus 3 yrs grad. work, FWIW].

I say evolution is genetic change in a population, not just one
species becoming another, because it is a long way in between, and
genetic changes accumulate all the way.  [In fact, it is quite
problematic to say where the boundary between old and new species
lies.]  Also, genetic change is not only "new genes" but changes in
gene frequency within a population.

Domestication by definition implies genetic change, it is not just
the taming of wild animals.  Therefore, domestication itself is best
thought of as a product of selective breeding, in effect, if not in
intent.  It need not focus on one characteristic, and it need not be
planned in order to change the genetic composition of a species.
When it is focussed and planned, it still results in genetic change
of some sort, that's why and how it works, and produces visible
results.  Also, domestication/breeding of livestock is not
necessarily sedentary - herding societies are notoriously nomadic.

Of course culture is "passed along" but not genetically!  Do we
agree?  Or isn't that what you mean by saying it is not inherited?  I
would say culture is inherited more like a house that is left to one
rather than genetically inherited like blood type.  Such confusing
language [inherit] is only one of the reasons why I do not normally
ever refer to "cultural inheritance."

Kerry posted:
An additional aside, is there anything akin to an "offline-reader",
such as what they have for BBSs for these "lists"? ... and I find the
organizing and maintenance of those types of posts (such as those in
QWK format) more ammenable in fostering dialoqe/debate.
	Science.  Having taken a class or two on the Philosophy of Science
and issues of epistomology I need to preface my initial response to
"science".  When I think of "science" I see it as captial "S", a term
which has a number of implicit meanings and assumptions embedded
within it.  The first is where the science of physics is presented as
emblamatic of how all science should be done, regardless that the
objects of study can and are radically different.
	Secondly, the most grevious problem with science, per se, is the
unquestioning of the assumptions that underpin it when it is being
practiced.  It attempts to argue that what it discovers is "Truth"
with a capital "T", that which is unassailable for all time. [snip]
[snip]... in the case of breeding, a particular genetic
characteristic is cultivated over generations.  This  doesn't
necessarily equate with evolution which, as I understand the term,
refers to the replacement of a species by a genetically different
though a "descendent" of that species.
It may be that we are splitting hairs.  And talking past each other.
Also the breeding of species probably happened after domestication,
as this type of activity is more akin to a sedentary-agrarian
I though you were arguing that social/cultural attitudes were or
could be passed along [snip] As to culture being inherited - NOT!

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