Making new evolutionary innovations (Introduction)

by dhw, Monday, December 02, 2019, 13:54 (9 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: You do not believe that cells are capable of designing innovations because you do not believe that they have designing minds. That is the nub of the matter. If they do have designing minds, they must use the same chemical means of communication as they use in performing their everyday tasks and their adaptations. I don’t know why the Shapiro you praised so highly in your book is now “poor” Shapiro, and I don’t know why you have gone back to pretending that he knows nothing about cellular behaviour, when you have acknowledged the research he has called upon. This discussion is becoming sillier and sillier. :-(

DAVID: Shapiro did fabulous work. He is a wonderful scientist. You have made him 'poor' by what I think is misusing his theories, and you haven't read the book, only reviews.

You have quoted him abundantly in your own book, and his theory is that “living cells are cognitive (sentient) entities that act and interact purposefully…”, they “have the ability to alter their hereditary characteristics”, and “evolutionary novelty arises from the prosecution of new cell and multicellular structures as a result of cellular self-modification”. That IS his theory. How am I misusing it?

DAVID: He also published some lay articles which l have read, if I remember correctly the Atlantic, but no one else has picked his approach up and run with it that I can find. From his work we only know free-living bacteria can manipulate their genome, but after that all we have is possible unproven theory.

Yes, it is as unproven as every other theory. If it was proven, it would be a fact. What is your point?

DAVID: We do know that in multicellular organisms, stem cells adjust DNA to make many different functioning styles of cells with different jobs. This is an exact replica of what bacteria do and therefore they are a forerunner of that stem cell ability! And that may be all that Shapiro has shown. That is not in any way the solution to the problem of

It is a theory concerning how speciation may have occurred. If it’s true, it solves the problem. You can say the same about any theory, including your own. All of this flannelling serves only to distract attention from your silly question: “How do individual groups of [cells] in different parts of the body communicate to decide on a major change?” Answer: they would communicate in exactly the same way as they communicate on everyday tasks and adaptation – by chemical signals. Now we have the equally silly argument that an unproven theory to explain how speciation may happen does not prove how speciation happens. What next?

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