Genome complexity: what genes do and don't do (Introduction)

by dhw, Friday, January 25, 2019, 10:21 (238 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Very simply information can do both, supply instruction for new speciation and how it should react to challenges. DNA is just the code level of protein production. There must be other levels of the genome to contain that function, and some may be hidden in the vast size of DNA in the non-coding regions (96-98%).

dhw: So you agree with the article that DNA is a passive data base which cannot possibly serve as instructions for “putting proteins together into a fully functioning being”, but all the same DNA might contain the instructions. If it doesn’t, the instructions are hidden somewhere in the genome. And “very simply”, information (active – see below) can use information (passive), although the article with which you agree specifies that cells use their genes, the organism uses the information, and cells “learn” and “create instructions on the hoof”. I can’t find any reference to information using information.

DAVID: Information is instructions as to how to respond. Information is not active in and of itself, but is reference material which can be used to create actions.

Your second sentence is precisely what I keep saying, so we can now dismiss your earlier statement that information is a “central active component”. The article you agreed with states that “the information in the DNA code “cannot possibly serve as instructions” for creating a “fully functioning being”, and that “cells “learn” and “create instructions on the hoof” and create them “de novo”. It also tells us that information (= passive “reference material”) is used by the organism, and organisms are communities of cells. We are left, then, with the hypothesis that cells use passive information to create actions. This doesn’t sound to me like the first DNA containing “a complete list of instructions for cells to respond to all stimuli”.

DAVID: Shapiro studied bacteria which he interpreted as having a read/write control over their DNA. There is no way he could tell if this was independent activity or acting under response instructions.

dhw: And there is no way you can tell either, but you insist that Shapiro (not to mention Margulis, McClintock, Buehler et al) doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Why not keep an open mind if neither of you can possibly know the truth?

DAVID: All reactions in the cell are always shown to be molecules acting on molecules automatically. Anything else is presumption as to underlying controls, which may well be automatic as all our organs show.

“May well be automatic” = your 50%, and may well be intelligent = Shapiro’s 50%, so why not keep an open mind?

dhw: In passing, I don’t like the word “advances” on its own. I don’t regard whale fins as an advance on pre-whale legs, or toothlessness/baleens as an advance on teeth, but I do accept your own contention that evolution is a bush and not a tree. The higgledy-piggledy bush of evolution sprawls outwards (not an advance) as well as upwards. And yes, our DNA has lots of room for rearrangements, and the articles suggest that only small rearrangements are necessary for large changes, but if DNA is a passive data base, it is the active organisms (comprising cell communities) that use the passive information.

DAVID: Agreed, but I view the advance of evolution from simple to complex as advancing. Whatever jumped into the water and started the whale series advanced their form into an aquatic mammalian form. 'Advance' means forward in time and form. I view evolution as containing the arrow of time in one direction.

All change involves the arrow of time, since what changes follows on from what went before. This is a complete cop-out. Things can change from bad to worse, and do you then call them an “advance”? Of course you don’t. Do you believe that aquatic life is an advance on terrestrial life, or vice versa? Of course you don’t. They're simply different.

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