Friday, April 23, 2010

strong biology

Be careful never to use either "cooperation" or "competition" to describe biological or other evolutionary phenomena.

These words may be appropriate for the basketball court, computer industry, or financial institutions, but they paint with too broad a brush. Far too often they miss the complex interactions of live beings, organisms who cohabit. Competition implies an agreement, a set of actions that follow rules, but in the game of real life, the "rules" - based on chemistry and environmental conditions - change with the players. To compete, people - for example on opposite teams - must basically cooperate in some way. "Competition" is a term with limited scientific meaning, usually without reference to units by which it can be measured. How does the green worm or the lichen fungus assess its competitive status? By the addition of points in its score or by dollars, or Swiss francs? No. Then what are the units of competition? If you ask what are the units of biomass we can tell you in grams or ounces. If you ask how light or biotic potential is to be measured, we answer in lux or foot-candles or numbers of offspring per generation. But if you ask "what are the units of competition" we reply that yours is not a scientific notion.

Vogue terms like "competition" "cooperation" "mutualism" "mutual benefit" "energy cost" and "competitive advantage" have been borrowed from human enterprises and forced on science from politics, business, and social thought. The entire panoply of neodarwinist terminology reflects a profound philosophical error, a 20th century example of a phenomenon aptly named by Alfred North Whitehead; the fallacy of misplaced concreteness. The terminology of most modern evolutionists is not only fallacious but dangerously so., because it leads people to think they know about the evolution of life when in fact they are baffled, ignorant, and confused. The "selfish-gene" provides a fine example. What is Richard Dawkins's selfish gene? A gene is never a self to begin with. A gene alone is only a piece of DNA long enough to have a function. The gene by itself can be flushed down the sink; even if preserved in a freezer or a salt solution the isolated gene has no activity whatsoever. There is no life in a gene.

There is no self. A gene never fits the minimal criterion of self, of a living system. The time has come in serious biology to abandon words like competition, cooperation, and selfish genes and replace them with meaningful terms such as metabolic modes (chemoautotrophy, photosynthesis), ecological relations (epibiont, pollinator), and measurable quantities (light, heat, mechanical force). So many current evolutionary metaphors are superficial dichotomizations that come from false clarities of language. They do not beget but preclude scientific understanding.

Would not society be better served, then, if we adopted symbiotic metaphors instead of competitive ones? No. Society will be better served by more accurate scientific understanding, and this is not to be gained by substituting one pole of oversimplified metaphors for another. But of course organisms do vie in various ways with each other for space and food. Such vying however, (or competition) among members of the same species does not in itself lead to new species; a source of genetic novelty-usually symbiogenesis-is needed. excerpted from Darwinism not NeoDarwinism Acquiring Genomes Lynn Margulis.


Honestly Not Sure How A Turd Like This Calls Itself A Scholar.....,

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