Darwin-L Message Log 14: 1–35 — October 1994
Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences
Darwin-L was an international discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences, active from 1993–1997. Darwin-L was established to promote the reintegration of a range of fields all of which are concerned with reconstructing the past from evidence in the present, and to encourage communication among scholars, scientists, and researchers in these fields. The group had more than 600 members from 35 countries, and produced a consistently high level of discussion over its several years of operation. Darwin-L was not restricted to evolutionary biology nor to the work of Charles Darwin, but instead addressed the entire range of historical sciences from an explicitly comparative perspective, including evolutionary biology, historical linguistics, textual transmission and stemmatics, historical geology, systematics and phylogeny, archeology, paleontology, cosmology, historical geography, historical anthropology, and related “palaetiological” fields.
This log contains public messages posted to the Darwin-L discussion group during October 1994. It has been lightly edited for format: message numbers have been added for ease of reference, message headers have been trimmed, some irregular lines have been reformatted, and error messages and personal messages accidentally posted to the group as a whole have been deleted. No genuine editorial changes have been made to the content of any of the posts. This log is provided for personal reference and research purposes only, and none of the material contained herein should be published or quoted without the permission of the original poster.
The master copy of this log is maintained in the Darwin-L Archives (rjohara.net/darwin) by Dr. Robert J. O’Hara. The Darwin-L Archives also contain additional information about the Darwin-L discussion group, the complete Today in the Historical Sciences calendar for every month of the year, a collection of recommended readings on the historical sciences, and an account of William Whewell’s concept of “palaetiology.”
--------------------------------------------- DARWIN-L MESSAGE LOG 14: 1-35 -- OCTOBER 1994 --------------------------------------------- _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:1>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Sat Oct 1 00:47:49 1994 Date: Sat, 01 Oct 1994 01:47:39 -0500 (EST) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: List owner's monthly greeting To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: University of NC at Greensboro Greetings to all Darwin-L subscribers. On the first of every month I send out a short note on the status of our group, along with a reminder of basic commands. Darwin-L is an international discussion group for professionals in the historical sciences. It is not devoted to any particular discipline, such as evolutionary biology, but rather endeavors to promote interdisciplinary comparisons among all the historical sciences. The group is thirteen months old, and we have over 600 members from 30 countries. I am grateful to all of our members for their interest and their many contributions, and for helping to make Darwin-L one of the most cordial, professional, and successfully interdisciplinary discussion groups around. Darwin-L is occasionally a "high-volume" discussion group. Subscribers who feel burdened from time to time by their Darwin-L mail may wish to take advantage of the digest option described below. Because different mail systems work differently, not all subscribers can see the e-mail address of the original sender of each message in the message header (some people only see "Darwin-L" as the source). Please include your name and e-mail address at the end of every message you post so that everyone can identify you and reply privately if appropriate. Remember also that in most cases when you type "reply" in response to a message from Darwin-L your reply is sent to the list as a whole, rather than to the original sender. The following are the most frequently used listserv commands that Darwin-L members may wish to know. All of these commands should be sent as regular e-mail messages to the listserv address (email@example.com), not to the address of the group as a whole (Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu). In each case leave the subject line of the message blank and include no extraneous text, as the command will be read and processed by the listserv program rather than by a person. To join the group send the message: SUBSCRIBE DARWIN-L <Your Name> For example: SUBSCRIBE DARWIN-L John Smith To cancel your subscription send the message: UNSUBSCRIBE DARWIN-L If you feel burdened by the volume of mail you receive from Darwin-L you may instruct the listserv program to deliver mail to you in digest format (one message per day consisting of the whole day's posts bundled together). To receive your mail in digest format send the message: SET DARWIN-L MAIL DIGEST To change your subscription from digest format back to one-at-a-time delivery send the message: SET DARWIN-L MAIL ACK To temporarily suspend mail delivery (when you go on vacation, for example) send the message: SET DARWIN-L MAIL POSTPONE To resume regular delivery send either the DIGEST or ACK messages above. For a comprehensive introduction to Darwin-L with notes on our scope and on network etiquette, and a summary of all available commands, send the message: INFO DARWIN-L To post a public message to the group as a whole simply send it as regular e-mail to the group's address (Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu). I thank you all for your continuing interest in Darwin-L and in the interdisciplinary study of the historical sciences. Bob O'Hara, Darwin-L list owner Robert J. O'Hara (firstname.lastname@example.org) Center for Critical Inquiry and Department of Biology 100 Foust Building, University of North Carolina at Greensboro Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 U.S.A. _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:2>From email@example.com Sun Oct 2 17:46:03 1994 Date: Sun, 2 Oct 1994 18:45:01 -0400 (EDT) From: student <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: talking drums To: email@example.com I would like to initiate a discusion on this list concerning a conflict that I have noticed in the evolution patererns of man and technology. To start my query I would like to use the AIDS epidemic as my example. AIDS has no known cure and is currently killing hundereds of thoushands of people world wide. To my unnderstanding natural selesction this disease is "weeding out" the people that are susceptable to this virus thus ending their chance to cede their deficient genes to future generations. This in turn will make the next generation less vunerable to the aids virus. With this pattern of natural selcetion the AIDS virus should be expected to be less and less a threat to man. 1. Suppose that we do come up with a cure for AIDS and it is distributed world wide, does this action set man up for a future virus that would be harder for man to cure? This action appears to me the technology would be allowing people with inadequate defenses against this diseas to procreated and pass the weaken gene pool on to there children. It is as if we have stopped the process of natural selction in ourselves while the viruses of the world are still following the pattern of natural selection. 2. If technology can be viewed as a part of our evolution, will it ever be as advantageous and effective as natural selection? 3. Is AIDS the product of our conquests over other viruses? _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:3>From firstname.lastname@example.org Wed Oct 5 10:18:37 1994 Date: Wed, 5 Oct 1994 08:18:05 -0700 From: email@example.com (Anton Sherwood) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: talking drums Arlen Carey writes: > . . . the taking drums are long and fairly narrow. As I recall > they are played with one arm wrapped around the drum and a > curved striking instrument is used. Do the drums have strings up the sides? By squeezing such a drum with the arm, the player of such a drum can change the tension of the head, and thereby the pitch (talking drums mimic tone languages). Anton Sherwood *\\* +1 415 267 0685 *\\* DASher@netcom.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:4>From KBO-GILLIS@nrm.se Thu Oct 6 03:09:52 1994 From: "Gillis Een" <KBO-GILLIS@nrm.se> To: email@example.com Date: Thu, 6 Oct 1994 09:09:52 +0100 (MET) Subject: Talking drums -o-o-O-O-O-o-o- Many years ago I was interested in African drum music and collected a few gramophone records on the subject. One of these records is called "The talking drums" (Decca, LF1169). The text (by Hugh Tracey ?) on the cover runs as follows: "the art of sending messages by means of the two-toned slit-drum is confined in Africa south of the Equator, to a narrow strip of country along the banks of the great Congo River and its higher tributaries the Lualaba and Luapula. A mere hundred miles away from the river the sending of messages is unknown and the information tapped out by drum has degenerated into signals only. It is only along the river itself that the people can convey understandable messages to each other without a prearranged code which is essential in the case of all signalling. The secret of drum messages lies in the use of the two toned system of the native language reflected in the two toned drum and a careful use of synonyms to avoid confusion between words or short phrases having the same tone melody and rhythm. In West Africa, north of the Equator, two membrane drums are used for the same purpose." On the other side of the same record you can listen to the Royal Tutsi Drums! Are there any royal drummers in Ruanda today? Gillis Een Stockholm Sweden firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:5>From RMBURIAN@VTVM1.CC.VT.EDU Thu Oct 6 22:24:35 1994 Date: Thu, 06 Oct 94 23:15:54 EDT From: "Richard M. Burian" <RMBURIAN@VTVM1.CC.VT.EDU> Subject: Death of Andre' Lwoff To: email@example.com To the members of Darwin-L: I have just heard, second hand, that Andre' Lwoff died last Friday. He is not known for his work on evolutionary topics, but he was a staunch defender of Darwinian evolution and of genetics against Lysenkoism. His own views evolved in fascinating ways -- as is witnessed by his fasci- nating book, untranslated because it was published during WW II, on "l'e'volution physiologique", which argued (among other things) for a trade-off between _loss_ of competence to perform (specific) biochemical syntheses and _increase_ of morphological complexity (except in cases of outright parasitism). I would be interested in learning of any obituaries. (As of this moment not having had time to go to the library since hearing the news) I have seen none. Richard Burian voice: 703 231-6760 firstname.lastname@example.org Science Studies fax: 703 231-7013 or Virginia Tech email@example.com Blacksburg, VA 24061-0247 _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:6>From jsl@rockvax.ROCKEFELLER.EDU Sat Oct 8 09:09:17 1994 To: Multiple recipients of list <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: talking drums [Culture and evolution] AIDS Date: Sat, 08 Oct 94 10:12:31 -0400 From: Joshua Lederberg <jsl@rockvax.ROCKEFELLER.EDU> Dear student. (please identify yourself). There is a substantial literature both on the general theme and specifically on AIDS. I may preferentially quote some of my own writings, because they are at hand, as secondary sources. On culture and evolution, see especially Julian Huxley ["noosphere"] in Wolstenholme G. (Ed.) Man and His Future Ciba Found. Sym. 1962, 263-273. J. A. Churchill Ltd. London; Little Brown Co. Boston (1963) where he cites Teilhard de Chardin admiringly; and a bit of my own chapter there. Also 135 Lederberg J. Experimental genetics and human evolution. Amer. Naturalist 100: 519-531. (1966) 214. Lederberg, J., 1973. The genetics of human nature. Social Res. 40:375-406. I am interested in who may have coined the phrase: "man is a man-made species". I find the thought as early as Kroeber 1918. I have always viewed the lapsarian myths (including Prometheus) in that light. See: 196. Lederberg, J., 1972. The freedom and the control of science - notes from the ivory tower. Southern California Law Review 45:596-614. ---------- and connecting all this to AIDS: 278 JL: Pandemic as a natural evolutionary phenomenon. Mack, Arien (ed). In Time of Plague. The History and Social Consequences of Lethal Epidemic Disease. New York: NY University Press, 1991. 293 JL Crowded at the summit: emergent infections and the global food chain. ASM News 59(4): 162-163 (1993). 293b JL Emerging infections: private concerns and public responses. ASM News 60(5): 233. 1994. As to some specific questions: with the extent of devastation from AIDS in Africa, it is just possible we will see some impact of natural selection (along the lines of the Duffy and Hb-S factors in response to malaria.) So far, no clearcut resistance factor has been identified. More likely the virus is evolving (infinitely more rapidly) to a more nearly mutualistic equilibrium. May and Anderson think otherwise, and point to the rapid enhancememt of virulence seen in short-term experiments. I believe all of the above is correct. See: Anderson RM. May RM. Understanding the AIDS pandemic. Scientific American. 266(5):58-61, 64-6, 1992 May. May RM. Anderson RM. Parasite-host coevolution. [Review] Parasitology. 100 Suppl:S89-101, 1990. Nowak MA. May RM. Anderson RM. The evolutionary dynamics of HIV-1 quasispecies and the development of immunodeficiency disease. AIDS. 4(11):1095-103, 1990 Nov. ------------ <<<<<<<<< 1. Suppose that we do come up with a cure for AIDS and it is distributed world wide, does this action set man up for a future virus that would be harder for man to cure? >>>>>>>>>>> +++ We should be so lucky! But I agree that technology becomes a substitute for biological adaptation, and we become ever more dependent on it. <<<<<<<<< 2. If technology can be viewed as a part of our evolution, will it ever be as advantageous and effective as natural selection? >>>>>>>>>> i.e. will Homo sapiens survive? But natural selection also exacts a terrible price [those who think nature is benign, speak up!] <<<<<<<< 3. Is AIDS the product of our conquests over other viruses? >>>>>>>> Perhaps indirectly, in the sense that those "conquests" have inculcated an unrealistic complacency. See: 275 JL: Biomedical Science, Infectious Disease, and the unity of humankind. JAMA 260 (5): 684-685 (1988) 8/5 --------- So, student, you see you have played right into one of my major preoccupations! COMMENT WELCOME. Some of the cited texts are available by email on request. Reply-to: (J. Lederberg)email@example.com -------- Dr. Joshua Lederberg Suite 400 (Founders Hall) The Rockefeller University 1230 York Avenue New York, NY 10021-6399 fax: 212: 327-8651 _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:7>From CBLINDERMAN@vax.clarku.edu Sat Oct 8 09:29:15 1994 Date: Sat, 8 Oct 1994 10:29 EST From: CBLINDERMAN@vax.clarku.edu Subject: Darwin's Bulldog To: firstname.lastname@example.org Centenary of T. H. Huxley's death will be in June 1995. In preparation is a cd-rom, "The Huxley Library," which will house entire Collected Essays plus hundreds of other essay, letters, Victorian criticism of him; and about 200 illustrations; segment from movie "Darwin's Bulldog," maps, bibliography. This is to inform DARWIN-L people of the project and to ask for suggestions on special items that Huxleyphiles would like to see in it. I'll be glad to give further details to anyone interested in "The Huxley Library" project. Charles Blinderman _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:8>From email@example.com Sat Oct 8 10:40:08 1994 Date: Sat, 8 Oct 1994 10:40:30 -0500 (CDT) From: Paul Jarrod Blonsky <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: AIDS and evolution To: email@example.com On Sat, 8 Oct 1994, student wrote: > I would like to initiate a discusion on this list concerning a > conflict that I have noticed in the evolution patererns of man and > technology. To start my query I would like to use the AIDS epidemic as my > example. > > AIDS has no known cure and is currently killing hundereds of > thoushands of people world wide. To my unnderstanding natural selesction > this disease is "weeding out" the people that are susceptable to this > virus thus ending their chance to cede their deficient genes to future > generations. This in turn will make the next generation less vunerable to > the aids virus. With this pattern of natural selcetion the AIDS virus > should be expected to be less and less a threat to man. I don't think we will become less vulnerable to AIDS in suceeding generations for several reasons. First, there is still only a very small percentage of people who contract HIV without showing adverse affects. Second, even if we had some mass die-off from AIDS and this population could be enough to start a new "AIDS tolerate" population, many potentially non-AIDS tolerate people are reproducing safely every year, the cultural modifiers, such as condoms and abstinance make AIDS work differently than, say, smallpox, which infect whole populations immediatly reducing thier numbers, relatively indiscriminant of cultural modifications (except, perhaps, crowded conditions that allow the spread of disease in the first place). > 1. Suppose that we do come up with a cure for AIDS and it is distributed > world wide, > does this action set man up for a future virus that would be harder > for man to cure? > > This action appears to me the technology would be allowing people > with inadequate defenses against this diseas to procreated and pass the > weaken gene pool on to there children. It is as if we have stopped the > process of natural selction in ourselves while the viruses of the world > are still following the pattern of natural selection. First, I don't think we will find a "cure" for AIDS, a vaccine perhaps, but a cure seems unlikely, to me anyway. Second, the virus itself would benefit by certain changes that would make it deadlier to humans (like even longer dormance, when it can be passed on, but doesn't show its affects). The idea that we are removing ourselves from natural selection is correct to some extent and we've been doing it since we started exploring vaccines and medical cures for disease. We no longer worry about childhood diseases like, ruebella and diptheria not to mention polio, that were concerns just the first part of this century. I would never argue that we should prevent cures from being found just so natural selection could take place, if we have the technology to stop a disease we should. Your arguement that this set the stage for new diseases is pretty close top the thinking of some people on AIDS, namely that it may have been around a long time and simply never really shown up because most people died of something else before they died of AIDS. Our medical knowledge has encouraged, new and more dangerous diseases, the recent outbreaks of drug-resistant strains of TB are a good example. > 2. If technology can be viewed as a part of our evolution, will it ever > be as advantageous and effective as natural selection? Yes and no (IMHO), natural selection works to actually modify the organism, although vaccines and medical technology do to some extent modify the organism (by creating an "unatural" immunity), without the technology we remain unchanged. So, technology allows us to change a lot faster and adapt to new situations a lot faster than natural selection (in the case of AIDS we would have to kill off 90%+ of the population before there was a good founder group of AIDS resistent people), in this sense it works better than evolution. However, on the off side, if for some reason we lose access to the medical technology, we are in dire straits and all sorts of things we thought we had a grip on, come back to haunt us. > 3. Is AIDS the product of our conquests over other viruses? I think I addressed this above, I tend to agree that AIDS may have a longer history than we a re willing to admit and it only surfaced with increased care of older diseases and increased contact in remote areas. Paul Blonsky Washington University-St. Louis _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:9>From firstname.lastname@example.org Sat Oct 8 12:01:12 1994 Date: Sat, 8 Oct 94 12:01:10 -0500 From: email@example.com (Julie Garrett) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: talking drums In answer to the natural selection pattern of the AIDS virus, I am of the opinion that AIDS may well be the product of our conquests over other viruses. I also believe that as a whole our technology is a part of human evolution and it is our way of overcoming natural selection. Whether that is advantageous or effective as natural selection, I believe it cannot be compared. We, as a reasoning species, want to overcome this selection process because of its "inhumanity". Julie Garrett email@example.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:10>From firstname.lastname@example.org Sat Oct 8 16:26:39 1994 Date: Sat, 8 Oct 94 16:26:18 -0500 From: email@example.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: AIDS and natural selection > I would like to initiate a discusion on this list concerning a > conflict that I have noticed in the evolution patererns of man and > technology. To start my query I would like to use the AIDS epidemic as my > example. I found this post to be very provacative; however, it seems to me that it relies on a number of assumptions which would have to be addressed before coming to any conclusions. Feel free to let me know if I am off base with any of these. > AIDS has no known cure and is currently killing hundereds of > thoushands of people world wide. To my unnderstanding natural selesction > this disease is "weeding out" the people that are susceptable to this > virus thus ending their chance to cede their deficient genes to future > generations. This in turn will make the next generation less vunerable to > the aids virus. With this pattern of natural selcetion the AIDS virus > should be expected to be less and less a threat to man. This assumes that there are a (presumably somewhat significant) number of people whose genes confer upon them an immunity to AIDS. While this is not implausible, do we have any evidence that this is the case? > 1. Suppose that we do come up with a cure for AIDS and it is distributed > world wide, > does this action set man up for a future virus that would be harder > for man to cure? For this to be true it would have to be the case that the same genes which led to susceptibility to AIDS would also produce susceptibility to other viruses -- without knowing what this future virus is (e.g., are you only talking about viruses very similar to AIDS?) I would think this would be a difficult question to answer. It is also possible that the people who were immune to AIDS would be more susceptible to the future virus than the people who were susceptible to AIDS. > This action appears to me the technology would be allowing people > with inadequate defenses against this diseas to procreated and pass the > weaken gene pool on to there children. It is as if we have stopped the > process of natural selction in ourselves while the viruses of the world > are still following the pattern of natural selection. I'm always inclined to think we are fooling ourselves when we think we are overcoming natural selection. The behavior of any organism is crucial to its survival and reproductive success. Why should human behavior be considered any different? In other words, what kinds of behavior are "natural" under natural selection? > 2. If technology can be viewed as a part of our evolution, will it ever > be as advantageous and effective as natural selection? It would seem to me that natural selection can no more predict what future conditions will be like than can human technology. > 3. Is AIDS the product of our conquests over other viruses? I would think that this question could only be answered empirically. Of course, none of this even touches upon the ethical issues raised by this post, which are many and complicated. ------- Roberta L. Millstein e-mail: email@example.com Graduate Student, Dept. of Philosophy University of Minnesota _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:11>From firstname.lastname@example.org Tue Oct 11 15:33:27 1994 Date: Tue, 11 Oct 1994 13:10:29 -0700 (PDT) From: "Eugenie C. Scott" <email@example.com> Subject: Natural Selection question To: firstname.lastname@example.org The "student" poses a question frequently asked by students and citizens in general: if modern medicine and technology keeps saving people who would have otherwise died, aren't we increasing the amount of deleterious genetic conditions in the overall gene pool? Isn't this bad? On one level, yes, we are increasing the number of deleterious genes in the population. Whenever someone who would have otherwise died from, say, juvenile diabetes, survives and reproduces, more genes for juvenile diabetes are passed on to the next generation than would have been passed on before the development of the modern medical care that allowed this person to survive and reproduce. In general, geneticists have not gotten too distressed about this phenomenon for two reasons (at least two reasons!) One, individuals who have genes considered deleterious have a generally lower rate of reproduction than those who do not carry the gene. Thus even if bearers of genes for juvenile diabetes survive and reproduce, as a group they reproduce at a lower rate than those without those genes. So the increase in genetic load is not as rapid as one might think. Two, one must always look at conditions ("deleterious" or not) as a function of the environment. My nearsightedness would be a real disaster for me if I were a hunter-gatherer. Doing what I do for a living, however, nearsightedness isn't a problem (my computer is not across the room, but right in front of me!) My nearsightedness is correctable with glasses, but if there are any gentic factors that predisposed me to become nearsighted, they may possibly be passed on to my offspring. But because the condition is correctable in the society in which I live, one can be justified in claiming that the condition is no longer deleterious, or at least in claiming that the degree of deleteriousness has been greatly reduced. Another consideration is that "saving" people who would otherwise have not passed on their genes through modern medicine, more stable food supply, or whatever other benefit of modern society in the long run adds to the overall genetic variability of the species, which is going to make Homo sapiens more adaptable -- perhaps even more likely to withstand "global plagues" such as AIDS may be. So on the whole, the species (and certainly individuals) are better off applying modern medicine and technology to improve the health and well being of people, even if doing so has the effect of increasing genes that wouldn't have normally be passed on. ECS ***************************************************************** SUPPORT SCIENCE EDUCATION! Eugenie C. Scott NCSE 1328 6th Street Berkeley, CA 94710-1404 510-526-1674 FAX: 510-526-1675 1-800-290-6006 email@example.com ***************************************************************** _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:12>From FINNR@bot.ku.dk Thu Oct 13 05:52:26 1994 From: "Finn N. Rasmussen" <FINNR@bot.ku.dk> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Thu, 13 Oct 1994 11:51:58 GMT+0100 Subject: Talking smoke I enjoyed the thread on talking drums. I noted in one posting that the "talk" was supposed to have degenerated into mere signals in the periphery of its original area of usage, maybe because of more difficult acoustic conditions (dense forest?) or a human language that was more difficult to emulate with a drum. In "westerns" Indians are often seen communicating across the plains with smoke signals - did they really do that, or is it just another myth? if they did, what kind of information could the exchange? Did they have a standard code of smoke words? Were there different dialects and did this kind of talking/signalling evolve as the indians moved around? Finn N Rasmussen (botanist) University of Copenhagen _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:13>From email@example.com Thu Oct 13 08:24:08 1994 From: D Praeg <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Natural Selection? To: email@example.com Date: Thu, 13 Oct 94 12:36:15 BST I am a geologist, working in the general field of recent (glacial-age) stratigraphy. I have been delighted to discover that I am, more generally, a paleotiologist. I am interested in the discussion of disease and evolution, because of what I perceive as an underlying assumption well within the remits of Darwin-L. Earth science has long laboured under Hutton's dictum, 'The present is the key to the past'. Recent studies are therefore meant to provide evidence of generalised processes, which can be applied to the geological record to make historical reconstructions (retrodictions). Independent retrodictions from the geological record can also be used to infer processes that may not be currently in evidence. <Processes> are the geological universals: they are meant to be independent of time. However, such hypotheses may fail to accomodate the vastly different timescales under consideration; Ager (1973) has asked `if the present is a long enough key to unlock the secrets of the past'. Ideas about evolution also derive from an attempted reconciliation of retrodiction and observation; at least, I see that from the historical (stratigraphical) end. It seems to me that 'natural selection' corresponds to a process: an inferred universal. It also seems to me that, throughout the discussion of disease/evolution, this inference remains unquestioned. It bears the hallmarks of a ruling hypothesis. What I wish to introduce for consideration is this: given that a hypothesis of natural selection is one way of accounting for the (fragmentary) stratigraphical record, is there objective evidence for it as an operative process on human timescales, for example in relation to epidemics? In contrast, to what extent could its presumed operation rest on the assumption that it is proven by the long-term fossil record? I would hazard my own hypothetical response: that natural selection is consistent with, but not necessarily proven by, either the historical or observational evidence. However, it is popular on various grounds; among them that it satisfies certain conceptual models of individual, ethnical and technological superiority. I feel concerned that it is these underlying concepts that are being reflected in recent exchanges, however unintentionally, through appearing to wave the wand of natural selection. Such an unconstrained application of a paleotiological inference would be ironic, if in an appropriate venue, on Darwin-L. Dan.Praeg@ed.ac.uk University of Edinburgh, Geology and Geophysics _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:14>From hineline@helix.UCSD.EDU Thu Oct 13 09:04:04 1994 From: hineline@helix.UCSD.EDU (Mark Hineline) Subject: Re: AIDS and evolution To: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Thu, 13 Oct 94 7:04:01 PDT The "student" who asks the question about AIDS and evolution has, by so doing, mixed some categories that ought not to be mixed. Although not explicitly, the student suggests that natural selection acts for the 'good' of the species (this is implied by the "weeding out" metaphor; "weeding" is good for the garden). But natural selection does not act for the "good" or the "bad" of anything. IT JUST SELECTS. Good and bad are ethical terms, and are a separate category of discourse. Of course, this is an old argument; and clearly it is not resolved _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:15>From hineline@helix.UCSD.EDU Thu Oct 13 11:15:17 1994 From: hineline@helix.UCSD.EDU (Mark Hineline) Subject: Re: AIDS and natural selection To: email@example.com Date: Thu, 13 Oct 94 9:15:12 PDT The question asked by a "student" about AIDS and natural selection is, of course, an old question in a new form. Its answer depends upon how one interprets natural selection. Two possibilities: 1. Natural selection is the motor of progress. If this is true, then progress must be judged according to a standard -- usually what is "good" for the species. We are the species in question. Thus, it is good that natural selection removed the dinosaurs; this made room for mammals, and let inexorably to us. But there is a second question about just who "us" is. Are "we" the living population of homo sapiens, or do "we" include future generations? Or, 2. Questions of natural selection *and* questions of "good" are a category mistake. Natural selection is not directed at progress -- IT JUST SELECTS. According to this interpretation, one may ask whether it would not be better to let AIDS patients die, but one cannot do so while hiding behind science. On the second interpretation, see Lester Ward, Steven Jay Gould, and others. Mark L. Hineline firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:16>From CHARBEL%BRUFBA.BITNET@KUHUB.CC.UKANS.EDU Thu Oct 13 15:29:18 1994 Date: Thu, 13 Oct 1994 11:30:27 +0000 From: Charbel Nino el-hani <CHARBEL%BRUFBA.BITNET@KUHUB.CC.UKANS.EDU> Subject: Aids and evolution To: email@example.com I've just read a comment by a student about aids epidemics and human evolution. I am commenting by memory, so apologize me for any misunderstandings. well, aids is not a product of genes, or, at least, is not only a product of genes. In fact, i think no disease is a product exclusively of genes, but of a Dialectical relation of genetic and enviromental causes, including social. when i say that the relation among the causes must be interpreted as dialecti- cal, i intend to say that genetic and envronmental components cannot be separa- tely measure. The disease is not the product of genes and environment, but of a process of coevolution in which the genetic and environment causes change one another by their interaction. So, the question of selecting genes which predispose human species to some diseases is not that simple. In fact, the implications of the idea sounds like eugenics. To improve our species, we must let those people die, because they are suscetible to some disease. The question leads us to the relations between genetic and cultural evolution. the patterns of selection in our social environment are more complex than those observed in nature alone. we have to take care about our conclusions in fields so complex and dangerous like this. charbel nino el-hani Charbel@brufba (bitnet) _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:17>From MARKAWI@gmuvax.gmu.edu Thu Oct 13 18:38:00 1994 Date: Thu, 13 Oct 1994 19:37:23 -0400 (EDT) From: MARKAWI@gmuvax.gmu.edu Subject: Re: AIDS and natural selection To: firstname.lastname@example.org Mark L. Hineline: How do you define "progress"? M.S. Arkawi _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:18>From email@example.com Fri Oct 14 09:50:46 1994 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (F. Neumann) Subject: Re: AIDS and evolution To: email@example.com Date: Fri, 14 Oct 1994 10:53:17 -0400 (EDT) Hi, I am surprised at the volume of discussion generated by the posting of an anonymous "student", as I strongly feel that posting a message anonymously shows a lack of courtesy towards the other subscribers. Moreover, the question of anonymity aside, the message contains, as Mark Hinneman very pertinently pointed out, such a mixing of categories, that I wonder if a debate starting from it would really be profitable... Florin Neumann firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:19>From email@example.com Mon Oct 17 10:58:01 1994 From: "Paul D. Farrar" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: talking drums To: email@example.com Date: Mon, 17 Oct 1994 10:56:23 -0500 (CDT) As a youngster, I lived in Nigeria. I lived on the border between the Ibo (or Igbo) and Ibibio groups. The "talking drums" we had in that area were telecommunications devices. The drum was a log that had been hollowed out, leaving the ends closed. A dumbbell-shaped slot was cut in the side. (The hollowing was done through this slot.) When struck on one of the lips formed by the slot, the drum made a sound like the orchestral wood block. Messages were encoded by the rhythm of the strikes. The only one I knew was the "attention" signal, which was a series of strikes increasing in frequency. A man who worked for us as a housekeeper could talk to people hundreds of yards away using the drum. Some correspondents have described what we called a "Hausa drum". This was a musical instrument, not a signal device. It was a double-headed drum with a wooden body of hourglass shape. The opposing heads were connected by cords, and the tension on the heads was low. The drum was held under the left arm (for a right-hander) and squeezed between the arm and the body to vary the pitch as it was struck with a hook-shaped stick held in the right hand. Paul Farrar _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:20>From firstname.lastname@example.org Fri Oct 21 00:06:51 1994 From: "Gessler, Nicholas (G) ANTHRO" <email@example.com> To: DARWIN - postings <DARWIN-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu> Subject: science & literature lists? Date: Thu, 20 Oct 94 22:07:00 PDT Hi all. I haven't posted for quite a while, but remembering the breadth of penetrating discussions, I thought someone would surely know of a list on literature and science, on hypertext and virtual reality, or cultural studies. If anyone does, could you please send me the appropriate information for joining? I would appreciate it. Please send it directly to my e-mail address: Nicholas Gessler UCLA - Anthropology firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:21>From MARKAWI@gmuvax.gmu.edu Fri Oct 21 15:13:18 1994 Date: Fri, 21 Oct 1994 12:39:01 -0400 (EDT) From: MARKAWI@gmuvax.gmu.edu Subject: Re: science & literature lists? To: email@example.com Nicholas Gessler: If you are looking for a list that deals with culture, you might want to try CULTURE@GMU.EDU. Send a message to LISTPROC@GMU.EDU with the message: SUB CULTURE <your first name> <your last name> M.S. Arkawi. _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:22>From CBLINDERMAN@vax.clarku.edu Sat Oct 22 07:03:33 1994 Date: Sat, 22 Oct 1994 08:03 EST From: CBLINDERMAN@vax.clarku.edu Subject: The Huxley Library To: Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu Modem zoomed out and Huxley Library Production Company (=CBlinderman and JParadis) lost messages. Would much appreciate those interested in "The Huxley Library" sending me messages again so that I can reply to each one individually. Thank you. CBlinderman _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:23>From firstname.lastname@example.org Sun Oct 23 13:40:57 1994 Date: Sun, 23 Oct 1994 13:40:52 -0500 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Mark D. Johnson) Subject: emergence It is likely natural that when 'break throughs' occur in one field, there is some familiar recognition of the new phenomenon in other fields and a smug feeling of "we've always known that." With the development of ideas of CHAOS and COMPLEXITY and EMERGENCE in recent years, a natural response of geologists, like myself, as well as other historical scientists, like yourselves, is to think that these ideas are of course true and that we have known it implicitly for a long time. There is added to that a rather unpalatable experience that the randomness and unpredictability of nature has been affirmed only when the reductionists (some physicists and others) have discovered it and proclaimed it affirmed. My post here is concerned with two items: 1. Do other geologists and other historical scientists have a similar reaction to the 'new' ideas of complexity and chaos? Do you agree with my statement, or have the new writings on chaos and complexity really discovered something new? 2. Does anyone out there know of a good introduction to what is being said about EMERGENCE? Thanks Mark D. Johnson Department of Geology, Gustavus Adolphus College 800 W. College, St. Peter, MN 56082 email@example.com (507) 933-7442 _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:24>From firstname.lastname@example.org Sun Oct 23 13:45:48 1994 Date: Sun, 23 Oct 1994 13:45:41 -0500 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Mark D. Johnson) Subject: spontaneous language generation Over coffee this morning, a friend related hearing a talk on the idea that the similarity of words in different languages (particularly mama and papa) arose genetically. That is, because of the physical make-up of the mouth and vocal chords, and the infant's dependence on the mother, words like 'mama' would arise naturally from any human language. This, I assume, opens a Pandora's box in comparative linguistics if it is possible that similarities are not inherited, but are generated out of our anatomical condition. I am looking for an introduction to this idea. Is this anathema to linguists? Is it something dealt with and discarded? or is it a recurrent theme? Thanks Mark D. Johnson Department of Geology, Gustavus Adolphus College 800 W. College, St. Peter, MN 56082 email@example.com (507) 933-7442 _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:25>From firstname.lastname@example.org Sun Oct 23 14:46:08 1994 From: "Gessler, Nicholas (G) ANTHRO" <email@example.com> To: DARWIN - postings <DARWIN-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu> Subject: emergence Date: Sun, 23 Oct 94 12:45:00 PDT Mark, Speaking from a long interest in human biological and cultural evolution I would have to agree that these new "break throughs" strike a familiar note to ideas that have been expressed _implicitly_ in the social sciences. What is "new" here is not that the phenomena we study or the observations we have made, but rather that we now have _explicit_ methods to compute the underlying interactions and characterize the range of outcomes possible. Although things may be unpredictable in detail, they may in fact be predictable in character. The collection of possible scenarios or historical trajectories may be constrained and may cluster to form an attractor in some analytical (phase) space. This trend in research has been made possible only by the availability of super-computers although many simulations demonstrating these principles can be run on home computers. If one wishes to argue that this new paradigm of emergence is reductionist, it is so only in a partial sense. It begins by "reducing" complex phenomenon to their constituent parts, but in stead of analyzing those parts in relative isolation from one another and asserting that "the whole is the sum of its parts," it then re-unites those parts in an environment and thereby "reconstructs" the original system. So the paradigm relies on "reductionism" but only in the service of "reconstructionism," with the motto "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts." This is of course done through computer simulations, though I might caution that the new breed of simulations are to emergent simulations what a mechanical calculator is to a 486. For the historical sciences, the progress in the field may be charted through the European and American conferences on "Artificial Life." Some months ago I posted a short list of references, and someone else contributed a long list both of which I would be happy to forward or post if requested. This is a growing discipline which has a promising future. Without rehashing much of what is in the literature (it is extensive) let me say that these "emergent simulations" have led to the following "new" possibilities: 1) Discussion of a new epistemology of emergence of phenomena at different levels of operation. 2) Although one can argue that computer programs are in themselves "emergent" a new breed of computer programs has arrived which use Darwinian natural selection, recombination, and reproduction in their operation. The programs themselves "evolve" and produce unexpected results. 3) Simple programs (e.g. cellular automata) clearly produce unexpected complex global patterns from simple local rules. 4) Gould's "punctuated equilibria" seem to be characteristic of most evolutionary computer programs involving co-adaptation. 5) The implications for the life sciences are that behaviors which we observe as "intelligent" may in fact be quite "dumb" and due to the interaction a number of relatively stupid sub-processes. This process has been suggested for human intelligence and cultural phenomena. 6) We have already "evolved" legged robot locomotion, swimming locomotion, herding and flocking, and eusocial insect architectures using these techniques. My own interest is in applying this artificial life paradigm to anthropology, an enterprise I call "artificial cultures." There is a small artificial life group here at UCLA, and a small group is forming around these ideas from UCLA, UCSD, and CalTech. I'd be interested in discussing this further with anyone interested, either on or off-line. Chaotically, Nick Gessler UCLA - Anthropology firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:26>From SHANKSN@ETSUSERV.EAST-TENN-ST.EDU Sun Oct 23 14:47:24 1994 From: "Niall Shanks" <SHANKSN@ETSUSERV.EAST-TENN-ST.EDU> Organization: East Tennessee State University To: email@example.com (Mark D. Johnson), firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Sun, 23 Oct 1994 15:47:15 GMT-5 Subject: Re: emergence Some of these issues receive treatment in Kaufman, S _The Origins of Order_ (Oxford, 1993). Also check out Nicolis, G "Physics of far- from-equilibrium systems", in Davies PCW (ed) _The New Physics_ (Cambridge 1989) -- good general introduction with biological applications. Also, check out the first few chapters in Mayr, E. _Toward a New Philosophy of Biology_ (Harvard 1988 (I think)). Mayr raises the emergence issue in the context of reductionist physiology. There are some helpful references too. Cheers, Niall Shanks Shanksn@etsuserv.east-tenn-st.edu _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:27>From email@example.com Sun Oct 23 15:17:31 1994 Date: Sun, 23 Oct 94 16:17:27 EDT From: Brian D Joseph <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: mama/papa, etc. In response to Mark Johnson's remarks about words like "mama" in various languages, let me mention the following. There are basically 4 ways in which languages can come to show similarities: 1. genetic inheritance (by which linguists mean similarities that are passed down through generations of speakers by the normal processes of language transmission (essentially, parent generation to younger generation or somewhat older peer group to somewhat younger members of the peer group, or a combination of parental and peer-group "models"); note that this does not have anything to do with genes in the biological sense more familiar to most subscribers to this list. This is at the root of the similarities among most of the Romance languages, or the Germanic languages, or the Slavic languages, as well as between languages in any of these groups (and others, whichcollectively form the Indo-European family of languages) 2. language contact (mostly what linguists call "borrowing", though the donor language does not lose the feature (word, construction, whatever) that is borrowed; to the best of our knowledge, there is no limit on what sorts'of linguistic material can be borrowed, given the right social context for the contact) 3. chance 4. universality (by which is meant similarities that arise due to some "natural" response to the conditions under which language is used or the nature of the users themselves). It is presumably under this last category (universality) that the mama/papa phenomenon falls, perhaps induced by the severe articulatory limits on what small children can say (thus phonologically simple consonants like labials (m, b, p), open syllable structure, a vowel that maximizes the contrast with the consonant, and the like, would predominate because small children do not have a fully developed vocal apparatus (very small children, that is); most likely, adults pick up on these "proto-utterances" and use them as the basis for words that are especially salient to very young children, like the designatin of their most basic caregivers. As long as we can recognize clearly what sorts of universal responses to the human condition are manifest in language, there is really no problem for comparative linguistics, and interestingly, the correspondences between and among languages that arise via (1) above tned to be far more systematic in nature andoften involve particularly arbitrary aspects of language (such as sound-meaning correspondences that are non-iconic, non-motivated in some natural way). Once one can find such correpsondences, then the universal ones do not get in the way. However, sometimes it is hard to tease apart the universal from the borrowed from the chance convergences, and that is where the fun lies! Brian Joseph Professor of Linguistics Ohio State University _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:28>From firstname.lastname@example.org Sun Oct 23 16:31:25 1994 Date: Sun, 23 Oct 94 14:31:20 PDT From: email@example.com (Peter H. Salus) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: mama/papa, etc. Brian, and others: I think that Jakobson's Why mama and papa answers this under #4. Combining this with Stampe's naturalness really closes the question. Peter _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:29>From email@example.com.Hawaii.Edu Sun Oct 23 16:58:42 1994 Date: Sun, 23 Oct 1994 11:57:18 -1000 From: Robert Cliver <firstname.lastname@example.org.Hawaii.Edu> Subject: Re: emergence To: email@example.com I can identify somewhat with Mark's posting in which he questions the "newness" or revolutionary nature of CHAOS and COMPLEXITY. As a historian, these ideas immediately resonnated very strongly with me and I have been working for some time to apply them to historical problems and see where they match with other ideas in structural and cultural history. What surprises me, however, is Mark's description of CHAOS as being a breakthough in "another" field which was implicit in geology for some time. This view reveals a presupposition that change, whether in an ecology, a persons life, a culture or economy, or in scientific models and world views comes from only one site in a complex network of relationships. The great importance of CHAOS, in addition to revealing a subtle order in previously intractable problems of nature, is precisely its universality. James Gleick's introduction to the "emergence" of CHAOS demonstrates this quite well as many researchers and theorists in such diverse fields as meteorology, physics, biology and theoretical mathematics began (slowly) to communicate with one another and increasingly became aware that what they were discovering was not an isolated freak of their own discipline, but a particular manifestation of something universal and fundamental to most all "disciplines." Feigenbaum's work best illustrates this as the constant which bears his name is applicable to turbulent and chaotic phenomena in fluid dynamics, population changes, perhaps even revolutions and paradigm shifts in scientific world-views. CHAOS, as the notion is shaping up, is new both in its implications for the way the wider culture beyond science views the world (see especially Ilya Prigogine on this aspect) and for the potential it has to unite scientific disciplines which, it seems, are often artificially bounded and thus perhaps unaware of the connections and feedback which allow them to make contributions to more general models and to have their way of viewing problems in their own field modified in turn. Robert Cliver History firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:30>From hineline@helix.UCSD.EDU Mon Oct 24 07:21:11 1994 From: hineline@helix.UCSD.EDU (Mark Hineline) Subject: Scientists, histoirans, etc. To: email@example.com Date: Mon, 24 Oct 94 5:21:06 PDT There are many, many examples of scientists who have made the jump from science to the practice of history or philosophy. For most, this is an avocational move or a subset of activities that closely relate to their science. But a fair number have made the move wholesale. A question: has the move ever gone the other way? That is, can anyone cite a case where an individual trained in philosophy or history has taken up science as a vocation or an avocation. (For the purposes of this query, the minimum description of "taking up science" would be several pulications, at least one of which has been cited, or sustained work in a field with publication as an aim. Participation/observation (i.e. "ethnography") does not count. If you reply in the negative, either on or off the list, please bother to suggest one or more explanations, even if only speculation (it is difficult to explain a null set). Mark L. Hineline Department of History UCSD La Jolla, CA 92093 firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:31>From email@example.com Mon Oct 24 09:12:30 1994 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (F. Neumann) Subject: Re: emergence To: email@example.com Date: Mon, 24 Oct 1994 10:14:53 -0400 (EDT) Robert, > The great importance of CHAOS, in addition to revealing a subtle order > in previously intractable problems of nature, is precisely its > universality. James Gleick's introduction to the "emergence" of CHAOS [...] > Feigenbaum's work best illustrates this as the constant which bears his > name is applicable to turbulent and chaotic phenomena in fluid dynamics, [...] > especially Ilya Prigogine on this aspect) and for the potential it has to > unite scientific disciplines which, it seems, are often artificially bounded [...] I'm afraid I'm not at all familiar with this subject; could you point me to the references you allude to in your posting? Many thanks, Florin Neumann firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:32>From KWowk@edc.gov.ab.ca Mon Oct 24 10:36:18 1994 Date: Mon, 24 Oct 94 9:34:15 MDT From: "Katherine Wowk" <KWowk@edc.gov.ab.ca> To: email@example.com Subject: re: spontaneous language generation I remember hearing/reading about something a couple of years ago in which some scientists had studied "baby babble" around the world and had determined that all babies "babble" in the same "language". Only later in linguistical development did babies add in the structure, etcetera of the native language. Anybody else remember this? Katherine ___________________ firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:33>From email@example.com Mon Oct 24 11:39:34 1994 From: "Gessler, Nicholas (G) ANTHRO" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: DARWIN - postings <DARWIN-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu> Subject: philosophy to science Date: Mon, 24 Oct 94 09:38:00 PDT Mark Hineline asks if anyone has made the move from philosophy to science. I am told (the source shall remain anonymous) that a good number of philosophers of science, specifically epistemologists, have moved to the cognitive or computer sciences. In fact my informant actually said something aking to, "any philosopher worth his salt has switched to computer science." I can name three anthropologists who have switched to computer science, and who now maintain an interest in developing "cultural" simulations on computer. Their explanations were that with computers they now had the means of testing the many unoperationalized cognitive constructs which they found in their prior disciplines. Nick Gessler email@example.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:34>From firstname.lastname@example.org Mon Oct 24 23:46:08 1994 From: Steve Miller <email@example.com> Date: Tue, 25 Oct 1994 00:45:32 -0400 To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: emergence Emergence is a really interesting concept - as I understand it, it refers to the existence of a new level of complex phenomena (eg true language) from a set of parameters (eg the capability to vocalize and big brains) that would not necessarily lead to them. A problem is identifying the levels as truly discrete phenomena, as opposed to analytical categories. In some sense highly elaborated political states seem to be an emergent phenomenon, but to what extent can they be said to be on another level from small groups of interacting humans? They are obviously different and more elaborated, but are they truly a different level of organization? Or are they just more complex? Or maybe it doesn't matter. I'm not sure. Steve Miller - I am a Famous Rock Star! _______________________________________________________________________________ <14:35>From SHANKSN@ETSUSERV.EAST-TENN-ST.EDU Tue Oct 25 10:38:57 1994 From: "Niall Shanks" <SHANKSN@ETSUSERV.EAST-TENN-ST.EDU> Organization: East Tennessee State University To: hopos <HOPOS-L@ukcc.uky.edu>, HPSST <HPSST-L@QUCDN>, Darwin <Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu>, sci-tech-studies <email@example.com> Date: Tue, 25 Oct 1994 11:38:54 GMT-5 Subject: POSITION ANNOUNCEMENT OPENING IN ETSU PHILOSOPHY DEPARTMENT EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY, Johnson City, TN. Assistant professor, tenure track. Starting date August, 1995. AOS: Open, except not Eastern, history of philosophy, or formal logic. We are looking for someone who will harmonize with the teaching and research interests of the department. AOC: Must be interested in teaching practical reasoning and an introductory ethics course called "Values & Society" on a regular basis. Teaching load 3/3 with acceptable level of research. Normal service responsibilities. Some summer work available. Salary competitive. Ph.D. in philosophy required by Feb. 1, 1995. Evidence of effective teaching (beyond discussion groups) and demonstrated capability for research required. East Tennessee State University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer; we encourage applications from female and minority candidates. Please send vita, three letters of reference, evidence of teaching effectiveness and an example of written work to: Chair, Search Committee, Department of Philosophy & Humanities, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN 37614-0656. Application deadline: November 20, 1994. We will interview at the Eastern Division A.P.A. meeting. _______________________________________________________________________________ Darwin-L Message Log 14: 1-35 -- October 1994 End
© RJO 1995–2016