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Darwin-L Message Log 26: 68–93 — October 1995

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 1995. 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.”


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DARWIN-L MESSAGE LOG 26: 68-93 -- OCTOBER 1995
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DARWIN-L
A Network Discussion Group on the
History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu is an international network discussion group on
the history and theory of the historical sciences.  Darwin-L was established
in September 1993 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 academic professionals in these fields.
Darwin-L is not restricted to evolutionary biology nor to the work of Charles
Darwin but instead addresses the entire range of historical sciences from an
interdisciplinary perspective, including evolutionary biology, historical
linguistics, textual transmission and stemmatics, historical geology,
systematics and phylogeny, archeology, paleontology, cosmology, historical
anthropology, historical geography, and related "palaetiological" fields.

This log contains public messages posted to Darwin-L during October 1995.
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 some administrative messages and personal messages 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 archives of Darwin-L by
listserv@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu, and is also available on the Darwin-L Web Server
at http://rjohara.uncg.edu.  For instructions on how to retrieve copies of this
and other log files, and for additional information about Darwin-L, send the
e-mail message INFO DARWIN-L to listserv@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu, or connect to
the Darwin-L Web Server.

Darwin-L is administered by Robert J. O'Hara (darwin@iris.uncg.edu), Center for
Critical Inquiry in the Liberal Arts and Department of Biology, University of
North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 U.S.A., and it
is supported by the Center for Critical Inquiry, University of North Carolina
at Greensboro, and the Department of History and the Academic Computing Center,
University of Kansas.

_______________________________________________________________________________

<26:68>From g-cziko@uiuc.edu Wed Oct 18 13:24:12 1995

Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 13:25:57 +0000
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: g-cziko@uiuc.edu (CZIKO Gary)
Subject: Genetic Algorithms Use Blind Variation

[from Gary Cziko to Elihu Gerson]

> = Elihu Gerson

I can understand that we have different ideas and disagreement about what
"blind" means in "blind variation."  But I don't understand why we have
such a different view of genetic algorithms, which are in essence quite
easily understood.  You say:

>In biological evolution, organisms do not store explicit information
>about previous generations' success or failure at problem solving. The
>relative success is given in the fact that there are more of some kinds of
>organism than others. In Holland's genetic algorithms, that is not the
>case-- the organism-analogs store and refer to information about their
>"characters'" past success.

What each "organism-analog" stores is simply a sequences of ones and zeros,
a base-two genome analgous to the base-four DNA code of living organisms.
To start the process, a population of these algorithms is generated using a
completely random, blind procedure of generating sequences of zeros and
ones.  From this initial population of algorithms, each is evaluated
according to some fitness function, and those which are most fit are
allowed to pair off and have "sex" and produce the most offspring
(actually, they are forced by the programmer to have sex).  The crossover
point is _randomly_ varied, and an occasional _random_ mutation is thrown
in for good measure.  The evaluation function has absolutely nothing to do
with the generation of these blind variations.  This is the classic genetic
algorithm as developed by John Holland and as described by David Goldberg
in is 1989 text.  Perhaps there are other genetic algorithm procedures
whereby the variations produced are somehow guided by the evaluation
function, but I have not heard of these.  The classic genetic algorithm
procedure is analogous in every important respect to the adaptive
biological evolution of sexual organisms, including the dependence on the
generation of blind variation.

>Once again: the source of variation and
>the criteria of selection are tied together; the variation is not "blind";
>the  variations produced are not "in all directions", but  some directions
>are preferred over others. This is not Darwinian evolution.

In genetic algorithms, as I describe above, the crossover point for "gene"
shuffling is randomly determined, and random mutations are occasionally
applied.  The variations are therefore blind, "in all directions," with no
variations preferred over any others.  This is classic Darwinian evolution.
Of course, offspring will more closely resemble their parents than they
will random strings of the same length (otherwise they could be no
cumulation of fitness).  But the _variations_ from the parents are "in all
direction."

>Selective breeding is Darwinian, precisely because the mechanism which
>generates mutations does not consult with the breeder. It generates
>variations in all directions whether the breeder is there or not, and the
>breeder selects the ones s/he likes. In this case, source of variation and
>criterion of selection are separate and uncorrelated; evolution is
>Darwinian.

And this is also what happens in genetic algorithms, the only real
difference being that the selection criterion is built into a computer
program.

If you don't see that genetic algorithms depend on blind variation, there
ain't no way I am going to convince you that human knowledge processes
(learning, problem solving, invention, perception) depend upon
within-organism blind variation and selection.  So I will not try and I
trust that you will not waste your money on my book!

>We seem to be repeating ourselves without making progress here, so I think
>we should move on to another topic.

It's nice to end on a note of agreement.--Gary

References:

Goldberg, D. E. (1989). Genetic algorithms in search, optimization, and
machine learning. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Holland, J. H. (1992). Genetic algorithms. Scientific American, 267(1), 66-72.

_______________________________________________________________________________

<26:69>From czbb062@access.texas.gov Wed Oct 18 13:39:43 1995

Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 13:38:28 -0500 (CDT)
From: czbb062 <czbb062@access.texas.gov>
Subject: Re: Universal Selection Theory
To: Dalton de Souza Amorim <dsamorim@usp.br>

On Wed, 18 Oct 1995, Dalton de Souza Amorim wrote in reply
to my question "Like F=ma"?

	No, like the situations where F is different from ma.

There are no such situations.  What are you getting at?

Michael Eisenstadt (czbb062@access.texas.gov)

http://www.eden.com/~madelon (<-Madelon's Recent Paintings)

_______________________________________________________________________________

<26:70>From jmiller@america.com Wed Oct 18 15:49:53 1995

Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 16:49:46 -0400 (EDT)
From: J Miller <jmiller@america.com>
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Definition/Supervenience of Fitness

On Fri, 13 Oct 1995 Hugo Bouckaert (Bouckaer@central.murdoch.edu.au) wrote:

> Yes, I think fitness is definitely a supervenient concept, and this
> isfurther clarified, I think, by the ideas put forward by Bock and von
> Wahlert, who provide a detailed analysis of the concept of adaptation
> (without these authors proclaiming that fitness is a supervenient concept
> - this idea is definitely to be found in Sober). It all hinges on having
> a closer look at fitness from a causal perspective, and of course many
> people would disagree with such a causal approach - I can only say that I
> find it a very good heuristic device to clear up some of the confusion
> surrounding the concept of fitness. I think when you read the passage in
> Sober's (1984) The Nature of Selection on the supervenience of fitness it is
> difficult NOT to be convinced of the supervenience of fitness.

I'm afraid I do not share Hugo's enthusiasm. Let's remember that Sober's
supervenience of fitness is conceived as a dual-purpose stratagem. It is
designed to enable him to attack reductionism without at the same time
appearing to endorse mysticism. As such, it is a clever device indeed, but
the approach is not new. Attempts to reconcile this fundamental dichotomy
by introducing some recondite conception go back at least as far as Kant.
And none too successful, I might add.

In Sober's case, problems begin to emerge when we try to scrutinize how
well supervenience accomplishes its dual task. Let's take the reductionism
prong first. The key here is that since fitness means different things for
different species, no unified physicalistic definition of fitness is
possible. Here is Sober: "Although one physicalistic explanation may
account for fitness differences among zebras, and a second such story may
explain fitness differences among cockroaches, no physicalistic account
can be offered of what fitness is. The reason is simply that fitness is
not a physical property." This last sentence is interesting because it
appears in both the premise and the conclusion of the supervenience
argument. Earlier Sober argues that fitness is supervenient _because_ it
is not a physical property. This raises some questions about the logical
status of the proposition "fitness is not a physical property" and about
the argument as a whole. But one thing is clear: Sober didn't need the
concept of supervenience in order to criticize physicalism. He could have
just as easily gone directly from "fitness is not a physical property" to
"physicalism cannot explain fitness." We are obliged to conclude, then,
that supervenience is introduced for the sake of the other - vitalist -
prong of the argument.

Since supervenience requires that physically identical systems have
identical fitness, Sober concludes that it leaves no room for the
mysterious _elan vital_ that breathes life into physical systems. "If
there really were such an extra added ingredient," he writes, "it should
be possible for two physically identical systems to differ with respect to
their biological properties. One system might have this elusive admixture,
while the other would lack it." To claim that this entails the falsity of
vitalism, as Sober does, is logically inadmissible. While it is indeed
possible for two physically identical systems to have different amounts of
_elan vital_, it is by no means necessary. Sober's argument _could_ be
true only if vitalism had an explicit requirement that physically
identical organisms must differ in their _elan vital_. I am not terribly
familiar with vitalist schools of thought, so I would invite experts out
there to correct me on this, but I do not recall - at least in Bergson -
any such stipulation. Without it, I'm afraid, Sober's attack misfires, and
vitalists can relax - they have nothing to fear from supervenience.

It appears, then, that as a weapon against vitalism, supervenience is
ineffective; and as a weapon against physicalism, it is unnecessary. And
since supervenience doesn't seem to have any other function in Sober's
theory, whether or not it applies to fitness becomes a non-issue. But
that's not all. I also have some worries about Sober's assertion that a
property is not physical when "different objects may share the property
and yet be physically quite different." Does it mean that two different
objects cannot have the same mass, or the same velocity, or the same
kinetic energy? Or is it that mass, velocity and kinetic energy are not
physical properties? I don't want to judge too harshly; Sober may have
elaborated this point in some other work with which I am not familiar. But
as it stands in _The Nature of Selection_, it is obviously wrong.

Finally, a word in defense of reductionism. When Sober says that
physicalism cannot explain what fitness is, he is right insofar as fitness
is conceived as a property of the organism taken in isolation from its
environment. I prefer to think of fitness as a property of the system
(ecological, social, economical, physical, etc.) which comprises both the
organism and its environment. An example from physics may help to
elucidate this point. Drag is a resistive force generated when a solid
body is propelled through liquid or gas. As with fitness, different bodies
can have the same drag. It doesn't mean, of course, that drag is not a
physical property. It is - but not of the body alone; it is a property of
the mechanical system which comprises the body and its medium.  I don't
have a clear idea of how it is to be done, but I believe that fitness
must ultimately be reducible to empirical terms, conceived along the same
lines, as a property of the organism plus its environment.

J.Miller

(All citations are from E.Sober _The Nature of Selection_, 1984)

_______________________________________________________________________________

<26:71>From rroizen@ix.netcom.com Wed Oct 18 17:15:43 1995

Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 15:15:34 -0700
From: rroizen@ix.netcom.com (Ron Roizen )
Subject: Fwd: CADUCEUS-L 4:48
To: DARWIN-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

Darwin-Lers:  The following query occurred today on CADUCEUS-L, a
e-newsletter for history of health sciences librarians.  I forward it
thinking someone on DARWIN-L may know the answer.  Ron Roizen

CADUCEUS-L:  History of the Health Sciences Forum
<CADUCEUS-L@Beach.UTMB.Edu>

             CADUCEUS-L 4:48            18 October 1995

<snips>

Date: Tue, 17 Oct 1995 11:55:31 -0500
From: Addeane Caelleigh <ASCAELLEIGH@aamc.org>
Subject: quotation from Charles Darwin

Can anyone verify the wording of the following quotation
from Charles Darwin and give a reference citation for it?

"A naturalist's life would indeed be a happy one if he had
only to observe and not to write."

Thanks for any help you can give me.

_______________________________________________________________________________

<26:72>From g-cziko@uiuc.edu Wed Oct 18 23:37:52 1995

Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 23:39:39 +0000
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: g-cziko@uiuc.edu (CZIKO Gary)
Subject: Re: Cziko's universalism

[from Gary Cziko to Jeremy Ahouse]

Jeremy,

I found your post interesting and insightful.  You have indeed boiled some
recent discussions down to their essences, and I will do my best to
continue this dialogue.

>        Implicit in a title like _Without Miracles_ is that competing
>explanations somehow rely on "miracles."  I suspect that if we asked for a
>show of hands for vitalists, creationists, skyhook sympathizers... few
>would step into that spotlight from this list.  So where does such baiting
>come from?

I certainly hope and suspect that you are right about the non-creationist
beliefs of subscribers to this list.  But I am less hopeful about some of
our most influential intellectuals and scientists (see below).

>So Gould is a marionette hanging from skyhooks.  I have
>previously expressed my opinion that this is a misreading, and I think the
>burden of proof rests heavily on the (pan,universal) selectionists to show
>that this is the case and not on the rest of us to dissuade them.

I don't know how Gould hangs around.  But when he hints that hopeful
monsters may be an important phenomenon in evolution, I smell a miracle.
When he and Eldredge suggest that adaptive evolution can occur in large
jumps and not gradually, I smell a miracle (or an extraordinary amount of
luck, which amounts to the same thing).  When Gould and the most
influential intellectual of the latter part of this century* say that human
language ability is a side effect of big brains and was not honed by
natural selection, I smell a miracle.  When the "Bauplaners" and Brian
Goodwin say that the well-adapted forms of organisms are the result of
natural selection but rather the result of some mysterious (to me) laws of
form and function, I smell a miracle.  When one of the world's most
renowned biologists, Lynn Margulis, is quoted as saying about Darwinian
natural selection:

"It's totally wrong. It's wrong like infectious medicine was wrong before
Pasteur. It's wrong like phrenology is wrong. Every major tenet of it is
wrong."

. . . I can only wonder about what miracles she may have in mind to explain
adaptive evolutionary change.

>        It has happened before that people who gain a clear understanding
>get frustrated when they return to share it and the "pivotal" importance of
>their accomplishment doesn't overwhelm their friends.
>
>        When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and
>        the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets
>        out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot
>        of the mountain.  Exodus 32:19 (English-NIV)
>
>        Does this feeling stoke the engines for Gary and/or Dan Dennett?

I can't speak for Dan Dennett, but I, unlike the Evangelists, would LOVE to
lose my (selectionist) faith (although so far I am getting precious little
help form this list).  I can only imagine that it would be as exhilarating,
enlightening, and liberating as when I lost my Catholic faith. It would
also allow me to write another book to correct the misinformation contained
in _Without Miracles_.  But right now natural selection is the only
nonmiraculous explanation we've got for adaptive evolutionary change, and I
think that it is important to emphasize that state of affairs, particularly
when some of our most influential scholars suggest otherwise.

>        It may be that the intended audience for Gary's book does regularly
>use miracles to get them through an explanation.  But Bob O'Hara has
>rightly pleaded with us to not engage the American pathology of creationism
>here.  Besides I suspect that Gary's book is not really for Duane Gish.  So
>maybe, like Dan Dennett, Gary sees miracles lurking in the shadows pulling
>the strings.

No, as mentioned above, I don't see them lurking, I SMELL them.

>        Nevertheless I will try to dissuade Gary from "universal
>selctionism."  I am suspicious (with Dalton de Souza Amorim and Karl
>Popper) about theories that seem to explain too much.

But Sir Karl would have LOVED universal selection theory.  Indeed, he
remains the most important selectionist philosopher who ever lived, and a
major cause of my selectionist perversion, saying things like:

"From the am=A6ba to Einstein, the growth of knowledge is always the same: w=
e
try to solve our problems, and to obtain, by a process of elimination,
something approaching adequacy in our tentative solutions."

And Popper had a special fondness for bold, falsifiable hypothesis like E =
=3D
mc^2 and universal seletion theory.  Please leave Popper on MY side (and
that goes for Dalton, too).

>In trying to
>reconstruct the unique history of this planet (see Sober) we run the risk
>of having a theory that says something like; the world is populated by
>those forms that are not selected against (to be selected against is to
>die, leave no offspring, go extinct,...), therefore every instance is one
>that is selected for (or atleast not against).  Loose talk like this can't
>help but be the case.  It is part of the job of the Universal selectionist
>to demonstrate how this caricature is _not_ what is claimed.

Is it loose talk to say that adaptive change requires the mechanisms of
blind variation and selective retention when these mechanisms can either be
demonstrated (as in adaptive biological evolution and antibody production)
or shown not to exist?  Indeed, it gives us specific mechanisms to search
for, and if not found, a reason to modify our theory.  And it also provides
a powerful method to generate adaptive computer programs and new drugs
(also described in my book).

>        I want to know all of the details of the history of life.  Once I
>get my story will Gary/Dennett/Williams see variation and selection in it?
>Certainly.  So do we have not basis for disagreement?

No, not unless you propose skyhooks and miracles for adaptive change.  And
who knows, maybe variation and selection will not be part of it after all
(why such faith in natral selection?; look what happened to Lamarckian
inheritance of acquired characters).  But please, no skyhooks and miracles.
So, you tell me if we have a basis for disagreement.

I should add that I am really not too concerned about the status of natural
selection as an explanation of adaptation in the biological sciences.  I
can trust people like Dawkins and Williams to be vigilant on this front.
My major, much harder task is to demonstrate (or motivate others to
demonstrate) that all forms of ONTOGENETIC adaptation depend on blind
variation and selective retention WITHIN organisms.  And, believe me, there
is a lot of fishy (and smelly) miraculous stuff floating around in the
cognitive sciences, particularly in cognitive development and language
acquistion.  But since this list of about the historical sciences, these
may not be fitting topics for discussion here (Bob, whaddya say?).

--Gary

*Noam Chomsky, in case you couldn't guess.

_______________________________________________________________________________

<26:73>From wilkins@wehi.EDU.AU Thu Oct 19 04:09:47 1995

Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 19:10:51 +1100
From: John Wilkins <wilkins@wehi.EDU.AU>
Subject: Re: Learning as Variation and Selection
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

Andrew Brown <abrown@lazy.demon.co.uk> wrote:
|>I also don't buy the argument that "planning" and natural selection on
|>random variation (or acquired characteristics) are mutually exclusive.
|>(Appologies if this is my mis-reading)  Clearly both occur in the same
|>process of cultural change.
|>
|Yes. But they are different processes. It is the attempt to conflate the
|two which  Elihu Gerson is arguing against.
|
|>More importantly, however, is the whole question of exactly how much of
|>human society is really planned by any one (or any small group of people).
|>Hayek's argument, which is almost never mentioned in discussions such as
|>this, is that society is a self-organizing system, and that really no one
|>is planning it at all.  The amount of knowledge that is necessary to plan
|>a society (or institution, or whatever) is far beyond what any small group
|>of people could ever know.  This doesn't stop us from deluding ourselves
|>that somehow we really could be (and should be) in control of everything.
|>Hence we have things like prohibition (being echoed in the various "wars
|>on drugs" in the last decades), and the Soviet Union and other attempts at
|>communism, and so on.  Hayek's point is that complexity of a social system
|>is not evidence for planning, conscious forethought, etc.
|
|This is surely further evidence that planning, forethought and so on, as
|things which individuals do and experience, are different from the unplanned
|processes which shape society, and which are much closer to the operation
|of evolution in biology. QED

The relationship between planned and unplanned self-organisation of social
structures is analogous to the relationship between "natural" and
"artificial" selection. Sure, there is intentionality directing the
selection pressures (but not necessarily the outcome), but the process is
still one of environmental sorting of hereditable characteristics. The fact
that some of the selection pressures against the replication of (biological
and cultural) traits involves deliberation doesn't change the fact that the
environment (which sometimes includes deliberating selectors) is sorting
differentially. Cultural evolution is *exactly* analogous to Darwinian
evolution because the replication rates of cultural traits on average
correlate with ecological success relative to close competitors.

Certainly we can distinguish between the properties of different selection
events (some being intentional and others being "blind") and truly accurate
intentional choices would result in a more rapid and severe selection
process, but there is no difference in kind, just degree. Ecological
success is a matter of outcomes, not inputs. To use Lewontin's [1]
terminology: the transformation rules that cover ontogeny (and here by
analogy intentional planning) are distinct from those that cover phenotypic
success (ecological, and analogously here, social advantage). If cultural
items are generated intentionally, their success rate depends on how well
they interact in the social environment; ie, how many brains they spread
through, how much time those brains spend applying those cultural items,
and how many socially necessary resources those brains acquire to apply
those items, not whether they were created consciously or unconsciously.

The QED is a bit quick

[1] Lewontin R 1974 _The genetic basis of evolutionary change_ Columbia	UP

_______________________________________________________________________________

<26:74>From dsamorim@usp.br Thu Oct 19 06:20:16 1995

Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 09:20:03 -0500 (CDT)
From: Dalton de Souza Amorim <dsamorim@usp.br>
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re: F=ma

I would like to answer Eisenstadt's reply to my note a little longer,
since I believe his comment touches one important question of Popper's
approach on how theories evolve (if you allow me to use "evolution" for the
development of ideas).

>[From Eisenstadt]
> On Wed, 18 Oct 1995, Dalton de Souza Amorim wrote in reply
> to my question "Like F=ma"?
>
>	No, like the situations where F is different from ma.
>
> There are no such situations.  What are you getting at?
>
> Michael Eisenstadt (czbb062@access.texas.gov)
>
> http://www.eden.com/~madelon (<-Madelon's Recent Paintings)

	I wonder if there are _definitely_ no situations in which F is
different from ma. Black holes are known to behave differently from Earth
in a number of aspects. Eventually, F=ma could be one of them. Even if
_I_ don't know any situation in which this occurs, it does not matter at
all for science itself. There _may_ be a set of conditions in which such
generalization is not valid.

	Popper, with his very sharp sight, stated that a theory seldom
comes completely destroyed. Usually, its validity is restricted from
universal to a much more defined context when it is outranged.
Anyway, this is how theories should begin: proposing that its
predictions are _absolutely_ valid and waiting for observations that show
how far this is incorrect.

	From a psychological point of view this is a difficult part of Popper's
model for the development of theories: namely that we know that an area
of research grew better only when one of its theories fall down. In other
words, we should hope every morning that our theories have been
overstepped during the night. This is something that people who expect
science to give absolute truth have a lot of problem to
understand, to accept and to deal with on the every-day of science.

	These are, hence, the two main steps of the development of science.
First, 'F=ma' for ever --with 'F', 'm' and 'a' very well defined. Second,
the discovery that 'F =/ a' under a number of special circumstances
--that is, the model should incorporate some variables not known before.
Let's say, if there is a so strong gravity that light cannot escape, then F
is different from ma.

	I see that some of these points could be profitably applied to
evolution (and obviously the ability to employ Popper's and other
epistemologists to a particular area of research is just the difficult
point): (1) to have very precise definitions for the terms used (this is
a major point; it is unacceptable that while discussing theories, models and
hypotheses we employ the same words or expressions to express
not exactly, or even very different concepts; biology is just full of
such kind of disgraceful problems); (2) to transform natural
language theories into formal models (this requires knowledge on
mathematics, maybe the only tool that can avoid an unending discussion on
confusing words and opinions) (I would say that Hamilton's (1964a,b) and
many of his more recent papers are excellent approach in such direction);
(3) to deduct from the models what should be expected in any particular
situation; (4) to look for those situations and whenever finding them,
not to resist against changes.

	The question of limiting pre-existing theories to more restrict
situations will probably mean for evolutionary studies that selection,
for example, under a given definition can be used only in a quite restrict
context. This seems to have already occurred. The mathematical
definition of selection (from the first half of the century!) applies
only to co-existing alleles for the same locus, not to interspecific
comparisons. Adaptation, on the other hand, on its common sense is a
severe tautology and most frequently used teleologically.

	I don't want to go any further in the discussion of the theory. I feel
much more like an observer in this particular field of evolutionary
biology. I just would like to see biology free from some common errors in
science. I am sincere enough to say the I myself am not able to propose
sharp solutions now (maybe never). But I see that epistemology would help a
lot. I don't have particular interest in seeing theories that are
able to explain everything; I would prefer to see hypothesis that forbid
lots of things, i.e., that say how the world should _not_ behave, so it
is easier to falsify it.

Dalton.

Dalton de Souza Amorim
Depto. de Biologia - FFCLRP
Universidade de Sao Paulo
Av. Bandeirantes 3900
14040-901 Ribeirao Preto SP
BRAZIL

e-mail: dsamorim@usp.br

Hamilton, W.D. 1964a. The genetical evolution of social behaviour. I. J.
	Theoret. Biol. 7:1-16.
Hamilton, W.D. 1964b. The genetical evolution of social behaviour. II. J.
	Theoret. Biol. 7:17-52.

_______________________________________________________________________________

<26:75>From jmiller@america.com Thu Oct 19 17:45:56 1995

Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 18:45:35 -0400 (EDT)
From: J Miller <jmiller@america.com>
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Universal selection theory and induction

On Wed, 18 Oct 1995 g-cziko@uiuc.edu (CZIKO Gary) wrote:

> I'd be interested to hear what other Darwin-L subscribers have to say about
> this discussion.
>
> --Gary Cziko

Gary, I would like to focus on the other half of the Darwinian paradigm -
selective retention - as it relates to such phenomena as learning and
science. I don't have too much of a problem with the first half, viz.
blind variations, provided it is understood that this blindness affects
only their foresight, not the hindsight. I am not sure whether you will
agree with this particular way of phrasing it, but I think we are in
substantial agreement thus far.

Now the process of the selection of phenotypic variations is fairly
straightforward. Those that "don't work" get eliminated. But when it comes
to various human activities, what "works" and what "doesn't work" becomes
less clear. I know that some people are not dismayed by this difficulty.
Popperians, for example, insist on applying the same model of selection by
elimination to everything. Induction, they say, is a myth. Humans learn
and discover things by making random assumptions and then having them
falsified either through experience or by matching them against the body
of already accumulated (and presumably more reliable) information. What
remains unfalsified, at least for the moment, is what we call knowledge. I
find this part of the argument a little harder to swallow. I can think of
several reasons why inductive learning would be favored by natural
selection as opposed to the assumption-falsification route. But before I
get into this, I would like to hear your comments. Do you also believe
that induction has no role in human functioning and that we learn _only_
by eliminating assumptions that didn't work?

J.Miller

_______________________________________________________________________________

<26:76>From CRAVENS@macc.wisc.edu Thu Oct 19 19:35:33 1995

Date: Thu, 19 Oct 95 19:35 CDT
From: Tom Cravens <CRAVENS@macc.wisc.edu>
Subject: Re: Universal selection theory and induction
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

Gary Cziko invites other Darwin-L subscribers to chime in, and I
follow on J. Miller's notes about the complications of human
activity and blind (or not) variation.

One nagging problem in historical linguistics (I hope my linguistic
colleagues will correct me if I go too far astray here) could,
perhaps, be boiled down to the effect of conscious intervention
in language change. From where I sit, today's view is that although
the facts of change are certainly participated in by all members
of the speech community in the aggregate, they are controlled by
no one. Nigel Vincent (1978) sums it up with something to the effect
that "language change moves inexorably onward, and it is up to the
individual speaker to mend any broken pieces." What he means is that the
language as *system* evolves (sorry) in such a way that the individual
can have no effect in stopping or diverting it. Unfortunate results
may be mended one by one, but the systematic drift (loaded term)
goes on in spite of any possible individual intervention. The variation
that results in selection and change is thus blind to the individual human,
by definition condoned by the aggregate if it takes effect, but for many
*not* blind to the linguistic system in question, which has, in a sense,
developed its own momentum. Each new-born speaker has to deal with a system
in perpetual flux, and interprets it as best s/he can. Some details will
be missed, and others will be misinterpreted from the point of view of
the past feeding states, thus change takes place. (Example which would
probably take place if we didn't teach everyone to spell these days:
kids hear the normal American pronunciation of 'water', and interpret
it as having the same medial consonant as 'leader'; the structure of
the word thus changes, and a rule pronouncing /t/ as roughly [d] dies.)

The possible point of interest, or at least of contrast with the non-human
world as I've tried to follow the discussion is that the variation itself
which produced the form subject to reinterpretation is *not* blind. It's
conditioned by basic articulatory phonetics and such, and more
interestingly, by the long-term ongoing directionality of variation and
change in, i.e. inherent to, the particular linguistic system.

Tom Cravens
cravens@macc.wisc.edu

_______________________________________________________________________________

<26:77>From g-cziko@uiuc.edu Thu Oct 19 21:09:05 1995

Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 21:10:43 -0600
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: g-cziko@uiuc.edu (CZIKO Gary)
Subject: Re: Universal selection theory and induction

[from Gary Cziko to  J. Miller]

>Gary, I would like to focus on the other half of the Darwinian paradigm -
>selective retention - as it relates to such phenomena as learning and
>science. I don't have too much of a problem with the first half, viz.
>blind variations, provided it is understood that this blindness affects
>only their foresight, not the hindsight. I am not sure whether you will
>agree with this particular way of phrasing it, but I think we are in
>substantial agreement thus far.

J.,

Sounds OK to me.  Variations (call them hypotheses or thought trials in
this context) are blind (although may be constrained), but selection is
"rational," certainly NOT blind or random.

>Do you also believe
>that induction has no role in human functioning and that we learn _only_
>by eliminating assumptions that didn't work?

Yes, this is my position as well (but of course, I will only be too happy
to eliminate it if it shown to be problematic).  I take the classical
Popperian position on the nonexistance of induction in human knowledge
processes.  I think Popper (or someone paraphrasing him) said something
like "The human mind proposes, nature disposes" to emphasize the creative
role of the human mind in the generation of knowledge.

As you may know, there is a very large literature on induction and Popper's
noninductive epistemology.  I could point you to some sources, but I'm sure
the philosphers on the list know this literature better than I.

I think I may go even further than Popper when I speculate that language
comprehension also involves the same process of noninductive variation and
selection.  The meaning you take away from these words on your computer
screen is NOT meaning transmitted from me to you, but rather the meaning
YOU create yourself, using these words (as well as other sources of
knowlege you already possess) as an environment to eliminate your unfit
hypotheses.

These issues are treated in chapters 6, 10 and 12 of _Without Miracles_.--Gary

_______________________________________________________________________________

<26:78>From g-cziko@uiuc.edu Thu Oct 19 21:09:22 1995

Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 21:11:11 -0600
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: g-cziko@uiuc.edu (CZIKO Gary)
Subject: Re: F=ma

[from Gary Cziko]

Dalton de Souza asked:

>        I wonder if there are _definitely_ no situations in which F is
>different from ma. Black holes are known to behave differently from Earth
>in a number of aspects. Eventually, F=ma could be one of them.

You don't need to find a black hole to refute F = ma.  All you need is a
golf ball.  Accelerate it to close to the speed of light.  You then find
that more and force is required to get to move even a little bit faster.
Newton's F = ma is actually wrong.  But still good enough to get men to the
moon and back.  Einstein's relativity theory is better, but probably wrong
too.--Gary

_______________________________________________________________________________

<26:79>From bill@clyde.as.utexas.edu Fri Oct 20 08:09:06 1995

Date: Fri, 20 Oct 1995 08:12:24 -0500
From: bill@clyde.as.utexas.edu (William H. Jefferys)
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re: F=ma

#You don't need to find a black hole to refute F = ma.  All you need is a
#golf ball.  Accelerate it to close to the speed of light.  You then find
#that more and force is required to get to move even a little bit faster.
#Newton's F = ma is actually wrong.  But still good enough to get men to the
#moon and back.  Einstein's relativity theory is better, but probably wrong
#too.--Gary

Since this is a list devoted to Historical Sciences,
I hope that no one will find it too pedantic if I
mention that Newton didn't say F=ma; he said F=dp/dt
where p is the momentum. This form of the law of
motion is even correct in special relativity.

Bill

_______________________________________________________________________________

<26:80>From ahouse@hydra.rose.brandeis.edu Fri Oct 20 13:51:07 1995

Date: Fri, 20 Oct 1995 14:51:14 -0400
To: Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu (Darwin List)
From: ahouse@hydra.rose.brandeis.edu (Jeremy C. Ahouse)
Subject: reflections on the current debate

Darwin-listers,

        I am impressed (depressed) that this back and forth between Gary
Cziko and others (including me) seems to circle around the same issues with
little transmission of perspectives.

        There seems to be general consensus (among modernists) that
teleological explanations are "bad".  The pan-selectionist position is in
part a "less-teleological than thou" view.  The irony here is that those
from paleo or developmental biology view the panadaptationist position with
a similar suspicion - since the ultra-selectionists offer a scenario where
"the world" is "sculpting" the ever (inevitably) increasing complexity.
This drive to complexity with reason at the top seems like teleology
through the back door.  So there is the feeling that this (solely)
adaptationist approach is too endpoint directed.  (That is why Gould
emphasizes strong contingency.)*

         Interesting to me is that the Dennett, Dawkins, Cziko approach is
not about data or experiments, and as I mentioned in a previous post is
potentially over-explanatory.  There seems to be extra pleasure in
empirically free thinking, for example; in discussing a 50:50 sex ratio
Dawkin's ends with "This remarkably simple conclusion is a consequence of
pure armchair logic. It doesn't depend on any empirical facts at all,
except the fundamental fact that all children born have one father and one
mother."

        I am mystified that they seem to take no interest in the details
that we have learned about what happens to variance when moving from one
level of organization to the next.  To expand on this (in biology); even if
all bases mutated with equal probability (unlikely), it now matters if the
the mutation is in an exon or promoter or enhancer or if in an exon if it
is in the first, second or third position of a codon, if the mutation does
cause an amino acid change then it matters which amino acid and where on
the protein and what kind of protein - structural or regulatory and if the
organism has many cells and develops tissues it matters crucially when the
regulatory gene comes into play... it matters where on the chromosome the
gene sits (near the telomeres may have higher rates of change) and on and
on and on... this doesn't make variation prescient but it does mean that
the variance is not simple...  To use the Dennett lingo; all points in
design space (even close points) are not easily accessible by walks in
mutation space.  This is the main (if only) take home message from the NK
models that Kauffman has been exploring.  Is there an analog to this in
linguistics?

        Judith Masters ends her review of the recent books by Dawkins,
Dennett and Eldredge by quoting Voltaire's Candide: "All this is very well,
... but let us cultivate our garden."

        And maybe too much ink can be spilled on this.

        - Jeremy

_____
Masters, Judith (1995) "The Rules of the Game" Book World. 16 July.

Rorty, Richard (1995) "Cranes and Skyhooks" Lingua Franca. July/Aug.  This
review of Dennett is very positive.

Dawkins, R. (1995) River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life.  Basic
Books. (http://bose02.delphi.com/hc/)

Dennett, D.C. (1995) Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of
Life. Simon & Schuster.

Eldredge, N. (1995) Reinventing Darwin: The Great Debate at the High Table
of Evolutionary Theory. John Wiley.

* Does part of the appeal of this position for computer scientists come
from the "failure" of top-down AI, as they hope that the smarts will
emerge?

_______________________________________________________________________________

<26:81>From gerson@hooked.net Fri Oct 20 15:41:56 1995

Date: Fri, 20 Oct 1995 13:42:15 -0700
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: gerson@hooked.net (Elihu M. Gerson)
Subject: Re: Learning as Variation and Selection

I think it's past time we had some specifics on claims that cultural
(and/or institutional) change can be described as an evolutionary process
analogous to Darwinian evolution. So far, we don't even have a plausible
sample just-so story. In particular, we need answers to these questions
just to get started:

1) What varies, and how does it do so?
2) What reproduces, and how does it do so?
3) What selects, and how does it do so?
4) What connections, if any, are there among that-which-varies,
that-which-reproduces, and that-which-selects?
5) What is adapted to what, and how is this measured?

Elihu M. Gerson
Tremont Research Institute
458 29 Street
San Francisco, CA 94131
Phone: 415-285-7837   Fax: 415-648-7660  gerson@hooked.net

_______________________________________________________________________________

<26:82>From g-cziko@uiuc.edu Fri Oct 20 17:45:28 1995

Date: Fri, 20 Oct 1995 17:47:24 +0000
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: g-cziko@uiuc.edu (CZIKO Gary)
Subject: Re: Learning as Variation and Selection

[from Gary Cziko]

Elihu M. Gerson writes:

>I think it's past time we had some specifics on claims that cultural
>(and/or institutional) change can be described as an evolutionary process
>analogous to Darwinian evolution. So far, we don't even have a plausible
>sample just-so story. In particular, we need answers to these questions
>just to get started:
>
>1) What varies, and how does it do so?
>2) What reproduces, and how does it do so?
>3) What selects, and how does it do so?
>4) What connections, if any, are there among that-which-varies,
>that-which-reproduces, and that-which-selects?
>5) What is adapted to what, and how is this measured?

These are good questions.  But, I would like to see two preliminaries
settled before we start discussing possible answers:

1. Do you now agree that classical genetic algorithms rely on BLIND
variation and selective reproduction?  As I mentioned earlier, if we can't
come to agreement on this rather straightforward (in which the answers to
your five questions obvious), there is no way that we will ever make
progress toward consensus on the above issues concerning cultural (and/or
institutional) learning.

2. Do you believe that some aspects (not necessarily all) aspects of
culture (and/or institutions) are adapted to their environments, that
adaptive change has taken place (not that all change is necessarily
adaptive)?  If you don't there is no reason to invoke selectionist
explanations since selection theory is intended to explain only adaptive
change.  If you believe such adaptive change does take place, give us a
clear example so that we can begin to explore the answers to 1 through 5 in
a particular context where we agree adaptive change has taken place.

I look forward to your responses to my questions 1 and 2.  I will also send
you directly a response from a researcher in the Illinois Genetic
Algorithms Laboratory to make your answer to 1 easier.  And related to 2, I
will add below an extract from _Without Miracles_ (I think Jeffrey House
should take a look at the extract as well so he doesn't continue to think
of me as a "panselectionist" or "ultraselectionist."

--Gary

" . . . selection theory is not intended to account for changes that are
not characterized by increases in adapted complexity. It is possible that a
species may change over time in ways that are essentially neutral or
perhaps even maladaptive. A decrease in the ozone layer may result in
increased rates of radiation-induced mutations so that a species may no
longer be able to preserve and pass down the accumulated wisdom of its
genome. For various social, geographical, and economic reasons a society
may lose adapted cultural and scientific knowledge; book burning and
persecution of scientists occurred many times during periods of social
conflict and upheaval. It is, of course, interesting to consider just how
much evolutionary, cultural, scientific, and cognitive change is adaptive,
and a comprehensive study of any of these fields will certainly have to go
beyond selection theory. But to the extent that adaptive change has
occurred, a selectionist perspective would see that cumulative blind
variation and selection must be involved. To the extent that no change
occurs or that change is not adaptive, other mechanisms (or factors
interfering with cumulative blind variation and selection) must be
involved. Selection theory is neither able nor intended to explain stasis
or neutral or maladaptive developments, and to criticize it on this count
indicates a misunderstanding of its intent."

_______________________________________________________________________________

<26:83>From g-cziko@uiuc.edu Fri Oct 20 18:04:36 1995

Date: Fri, 20 Oct 1995 18:06:32 +0000
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: g-cziko@uiuc.edu (CZIKO Gary)
Subject: Re: reflections on the current debate

[from Gary Cziko responding to Jeffrey Ahouse]

>        I am impressed (depressed) that this back and forth between Gary
>Cziko and others (including me) seems to circle around the same issues with
>little transmission of perspectives.

Well, I don't believe that perspectives can be "transmitted" (that's
Lamarckian instruction), but I do feel that I have developed ("evolved" if
you will) a better understanding of your perspective as a result of the
selection pressure of our interaction.  So I have found our discussion
useful.

Can you truly say that you really don't better understand my perspective
now?  That I am only trying to understand _adaptive_ change, and that I
restrict selection theory to only those instances?  Like you, I am also
quite critical of the ultraselectionism of individuals like Wallace and
Romanes.

I have tried quite hard to make my position clear.  But I still am not sure
what you object to in it.  I do know that you are interested in far more
than just adaptive change, and in this sense you are much more ambitious
than I am.  I am interested primarily in adapted complexity, and figuring
out the process by which in happened, but not just in biological evolution
but in cultural change, science, cognitive development, language
acquisition and all areas in which we find a remarkable fit of one system
to another (apparent design).  In this sense I am perhaps more ambitious
than you.  The only mechanism I know of explaining such fit is a
selectionist one, and no one on Darwin-L has yet offered any alternatives.

If you were let me know what you disagreed with in my basic position (at
least as it concerns adaptive biological evolution) we might make some
progress.  What I object to in your perspective is the implication that
some process other than blind variation and selective retention can result
in adapted complexity.  I would be very interested to find an alternative
explanation, but so far I have not seen one offered free of miracles or
skyhooks.

--Gary

_______________________________________________________________________________

<26:84>From Catalinus@aol.com Fri Oct 20 19:08:29 1995

Date: Fri, 20 Oct 1995 20:08:21 -0400
From: Catalinus@aol.com
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: If the Shoe Fits

The following is excerpted from The Journal of
Irreproducible Results, Volume 40, Number 3, pp.11-
12.  I thought it appropriate to distribute in light of
some of the discussions that have appeared on this
list of late.  I have substituted chaste dashes for the
A-word, in keeping with the no-obcenity rule, but I
urge you to get the original.  It's VERY funny, not
less for being right.

Title:  The A--hole Quotient: Transcending Ethnicity in
     Anthropology and Daily Life.
Author:  Eugene Cooper, U. of Southern California.

"...For too long, anthropologists and practitioners of
its sister social science disciplines have allowed the
concept of ethnicity to become incorporated into the
lexicon of "science", giving undeserved credence and
legitimacy to the politically tainted categories of
popular consciousness.  Happily, a new, more critical
perspective lies within our grasp...
...The A--hole Quotient hypothesizes that the
proportion of a--holes in any given population is a
constant (A) which is equal to the number of a--holes
(n) over the total population (t):
     A=n/t
(A) remains constant regardless of how one might
choose to define the population -- by race, language,
nationality, religion, or even occupation, age, gender,
or shoe size.  Thus, one would be equally likely to
encounter an a--hole in one's interactions with, say,
dentists, or French speakers, or Jews, or Ecuadoreans,
male or female, of dark or light skin, large or small
feet...
...The theoretical implications of this finding are
genuinely revolutionary in the social sciences...
...The irrelevance of "ethnic" distinctions having been
established from the outset, we might not only
dispense with any number of professional journals
which address the issue by merely restating what
every layman believes anyway, but might also come to
understand "ethnicity" as the phenomenon of popular
consciousness that it is, rather than continue to
misconstrue it as an objective analytical category.  We
might even come to see it for what it often ends up
being, a device employed by demagogues to divide us
from one another politically...
...As the beguiling simplicity of the finding captured
the imagination of larger sectors of the world's
population, each of us would be more inclined to
approach our interactions with all comers with only one
thought in mind, "Is this person an a--hole or not?
Having made the assessment (sic), we would proceed with
the business at hand, or not, without prejudging our
opposite number on the basis of his or her superficial
"ethnic" attributes."

Hi ho.

John A. Giacobbe
Western Archaeological Services, Inc.
catalinus@aol.com

_______________________________________________________________________________

<26:85>From jmiller@america.com Fri Oct 20 22:58:06 1995

Date: Fri, 20 Oct 1995 23:57:55 -0400 (EDT)
From: J Miller <jmiller@america.com>
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re: Universal selection theory and induction

On Fri, 20 Oct 1995 g-cziko@uiuc.edu (CZIKO Gary) wrote:

> >Do you also believe
> >that induction has no role in human functioning and that we learn _only_
> >by eliminating assumptions that didn't work?
>
> Yes, this is my position as well (but of course, I will only be too happy
> to eliminate it if it shown to be problematic).  I take the classical
> Popperian position on the nonexistance of induction in human knowledge
> processes.

I think Popper's position _has_ been shown to be problematic. But of
course this is no reason to abandon it altogether - only to keep a healthy
dose of skepticism about it.

Let me share with you a couple of points which, I think, support this
skepticism about the nonexistence of induction. First of all, when
compared with induction, the acquisition of knowledge by
assumption-falsification appears to be frightfully uneconomical. When you
observe that every B you encounter is A, your conclusion that the next B
will also be A may be uncertain and unjustified, but it requires a good
deal less effort than trying to falsify every competing assumption. That
is to say, it is a lot easier than trying to establish that B is not C,
and that B is not D, not E, F and so forth to the end of the alphabet and
possibly beyond.  What's more, if the assumption to be falsified has to do
with your personal safety, it is easy to see that induction may also be a
much less painful alternative. For these reasons, I think it is evident
that natural selection must place a premium on inductive learning.
Consider two rabbits, one of which tried to falsify the assumption that it
is a good idea to run like hell at the first sight of a fox. He probably
left far fewer genes for the next generation than his sibling who learned
inductively by observing his mother once or twice. Of course the downside
of the inductive method is that next time this second rabbit may take off
after seeing a piece of red cloth or something equally innocuous, but his
error will be on the side of safety, whereas assumption-falsification
leads directly into the maw of extinction.

Another problem I have with falsificationism is that to be effective it
too must rely on induction. Suppose you want to falsify my assumption that
every B is A. You find one B that is not A. Technically, you are correct
of course, but for practical reasons it may still be advantageous for me
to believe that next B I see is going to be A. And so I argue that your
case is a rare exception that happened because of some special
circumstances. You must then show that your finding is independent of
these circumstances, or of the fact that it's a leap year, or that it's
the full moon, or any other excuse I can think of. In the end you will
have a string of observations from which you must generalize.  But what is
it if not induction? In other words, if you observe that B is not A during
the full moon, is it an aberration or a trend? I don't see how this can be
answered without induction.

I am also skeptical about those cases where no falsification is possible.
Suppose I ask, How do you know that the sun will rise tomorrow? The Humean
inductivist would answer that we don't really know that it _will_ rise,
but given the exigencies of life, we must accept the unjustified but
unavoidable assumption that the future will resemble the past and conclude
that it is reasonable to expect that the sun will indeed rise tomorrow.
Now what will the falsificationist say? Since the alternative hypothesis
(i.e. that the sun will not rise) cannot be falsified, he will be obliged
to say that he doesn't know. But this will be disingenuous; he _does_ know
that the sun will rise tomorrow as well as anyone else. And the reason for
this is that we all are naturally predisposed to accept inductive
generalizations, whether we like it or not.

I think I will conclude by pointing to what I think is at the root of
these difficulties. Popperians are very keen on admonishing others not to
confuse the logical problem of induction with the psychological problem of
induction. For some reason, they are totally oblivious to the fact that
there is only one problem of induction - psychological. It is the problem
to which Hume devoted Book I of his _Treatise_ and which I am not going to
repeat here in the interests of brevity. There is no logical _problem_ of
induction. The logical fact that the proposition "some swans are white"
does not entail the proposition "all swans are white" is no more of a
problem than the similar fact that 2+2 does not entail 5. I think a lot of
confusion generated by falsificationism could be cleared up if only we
remembered that the induction problem is always psychological.

Gary, I apologize if you already addressed these issues in your book. I
hope you wouldn't mind highlighting your points for those of us who
haven't read it. I don't mean to suggest, by the way, that I am not
interested in reading it, but at the moment I have no access to a good
library (this is what the "com" in my address means). If you have an extra
copy looking for a good home, I could certainly to put it to a good use.

J.Miller

_______________________________________________________________________________

<26:86>From timhunt@u.washington.edu Fri Oct 20 23:55:21 1995

Date: Fri, 20 Oct 1995 21:55:14 -0700 (PDT)
From: Timothy Hunt <timhunt@u.washington.edu>
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re: Learning as Variation and Selection

On Fri, 20 Oct 1995, Elihu M. Gerson wrote:

> I think it's past time we had some specifics on claims that cultural
> (and/or institutional) change can be described as an evolutionary process
> analogous to Darwinian evolution. So far, we don't even have a plausible
> sample just-so story. In particular, we need answers to these questions
> just to get started:

	Hmm, seems to me that the aegis is on you to prove that
evolutionary theory is _not_ appropriate for cultural evolution. As far as
I know, the only criterion for the use of evolutionary theory is whether
or not there is transmission of information between individuals. The data
that is explained by evolutionary theory is changing relative frequencies
of variants of a trait. If a owning particular variant impacts the owners
ability to transmit that variant, relative to the other variants of the
trait, then natural selection can be proposed as the mechanism for the
changes in frequency (the default explanation should be drift). Seems to
me that cultural evolution ("human" or "animal" or "digital") is suitable
for evolutionary theory (culture is transmitted information just like
genes or binary digits), and that selection as well as drift has patterned
the distributions of cultural traits through time.
	As far as "Lamarkian" evolution goes, the argument is about where
the variation comes from that is later to be sorted by natural selection.
Is it "blind" or is it "directed"? The source of new variation is not a
component of evolutionary theory: if the physiological mechanism that
produced new variation was "directed" in some way, evolutionary theory and
natural selection in particular would still be explanatory.  The
question of "how" new variation is produced is a physiological problem,
the question of "why" a particular trait variant increased or decreased
in frequency through time is an evolutionary problem. In either case,
what we're talking about are empirical issues, not theoretical ones.
	 So, if you want to make a case for human cultural evolution being
the result of the selection of "directed" traits, it is only necessary to:
1) present a idea-generating mechanism that is capable of producing new
trait variants which will be "selected for" more frequently than than
those produced by a "blind" mechanism _AND_ 2) demonstrate using the
changing relative frequencies of trait variants that new variants produced
by this mechanism increased in frequency through time _more often_ than
traits produced by the "blind" mechanism.  If you do this than you have
proved your point and avoided "just-so"s.  The hard part of 1) is finding
a mechanism that is capable of predicting the future reliably (since the
new "directed" trait variant must yield higher fitness than its
counterparts in the "future" environment).  The hard part of 2) is
figuring out whether the trait variant arose "blind" or "directed" (thats
your problem since you must disprove that it arose "blind").  The hard
part of using evolutionary theory on humans is that we tend to think that
we're always right, while if you examine the past you'll find that most
people were wrong. Most of the people that have existed on this planet do
not have surviving heirs: their lineages have gone as extinct as T. rex.
However, I'm sure if one could have asked them, they would have said that
what _they_ were doing was right,made sense,and was directed towards a
prosperous future;  while what _our_ ancestors were doing was wrong, blind,
and hopeless.
______________________________________________________________________________
Tim Hunt					Phone:			(206)610-5178
Department of Anthropology, Box 353100		FAX:		(206)543-3285
University of Washington			Office:	Denny Hall 409
Seattle, WA 98195 				EMAIL: timhunt@u.washington.edu

_______________________________________________________________________________

<26:87>From jasmith@u.washington.edu Sat Oct 21 10:49:07 1995

Date: Sat, 21 Oct 1995 08:48:59 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Jonathan A. Smith" <jasmith@u.washington.edu>
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re: reflections on the current debate

On Fri, 20 Oct 1995, Jeremy C. Ahouse wrote:

> * Does part of the appeal of this position for computer scientists come
> from the "failure" of top-down AI, as they hope that the smarts will
> emerge?

    No.  AI has not failed.

    Every AI program uses some form of search.  This is what distinguishes
AI from other areas of computer science.  Search always involves the
generation (or modification) or solutions and some form of selection of a
set of candidate solutions that may be useful for further elaboration.
For this reason even an AI program that is not explicitly based on a
genetic algorithm is in some sense a Darwinian program.  This goes for
"top down" or any other form of AI.

    There are scores of AI programs that have been successful -- often
outperforming many human experts in real world domains.  Recent advances
in machine learning have proven to be especially important.  Successful
learning software includes both symbolic and connectionist programs.  AI
has not failed -- some smarts have already emerged.

    jasmith@u.washington.edu

_______________________________________________________________________________

<26:88>From g-cziko@uiuc.edu Sat Oct 21 13:54:53 1995

Date: Sat, 21 Oct 1995 13:56:47 +0000
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: g-cziko@uiuc.edu (CZIKO Gary)
Subject: Today in the Historical Sciences

No, this is not Bob O'Hara, but Gary Cziko (again).  I couldn't resist
stealing Bob's title and posting today's important event.

It was on this day in 1879 that Thomas Alva Edison invented the electric
incandescent lamp.  Here is an extract from the Enyclopedia Britannica:

"The invention
of a completely practical lamp ordinarily is credited to Edison,
who began studying the problem in 1877 and within a year and a
half had made more than 1,200 experiments. On Oct. 21, 1879,
Edison lighted a lamp containing a carbonized thread for the
filament. The lamp burned steadily for two days. Later he
learned that filaments of carbonized visiting card paper
(bristol board) would give several hundred hours' life. Soon
carbonized bamboo was found acceptable and was used as the
filament material. Extruded cellulose filaments were
introduced by Swan in 1883."

After Edison demonstrated his invention in December 1879, he was declared
the "genius of Menlo Park."  Imagine, calling someone a "genius" who took a
year and a half and over a thousand failed attempts before coming up with
something that worked!  Looks like a lot of blind variation to me (I
understand Edison sent associates to forests in South America and Japan to
find exotic materials for his lamp filament--obviously sensing the
importance of trying lots of different variations).

Appended below is a relevant extract from _Without Miracles_ (note that I
got the date wrong in my book; December is when Edison made his invention
public--most likely after he had filed for a patent).--Gary

================================================================
[from chapter 15 of _Without Miracles_]

"That we tend to forget or ignore the many failures in our attempts to
better understand and control our surroundings and remember only the
successes makes a selection theory epistemology appear unnecessary and
unappealing. This is much the same as considering only the living and
adapted end results of biological evolution and ignoring the countless
unadaptive variations. But unlike biological evolution where the failed
organisms and extinct species are usually well hidden from view, we can
take notice of the fruitless trials of our experiments and conjectures.

An informative case from the history of technological innovation is Thomas
Alva Edison's two-year attempt to find an appropriate substance for the
filament in the first electric light bulb. After trying out dozens of
substances, including red hair from a man's beard, Edison finally found
success in December 1879 using carbonized sewing thread. His oft-quoted
statement that "genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration" reflects the
long hours and countless failures that accompanied this and his many other
inventions and technological advances.

But when we buy a new product, whether it be a new video camera or a more
effective laundry detergent, we take no notice of the many failed attempts
that preceded its development. We also know nothing of the countless
would-be inventors and scientists who do not produce noteworthy
breakthroughs. We usually consider only the successes and not the failures,
making it appear as if science and technology progress through the sheer
brilliance and insight of scientists and inventors rather than through
painstaking trial and error and only occasional exhilaration of trial and
success. Walter Vincenti, whose account of advances in aeronautical
engineering was introduced in chapter 10, remarks:

"From outside or in retrospect, the entire process tends to seem more
ordered and intentional--less blind--than it usually is. It is difficult to
learn what goes on in even the conscious minds of others, and we all prefer
to remember our rational achievements and forget the fumblings and ideas
that didn't work out."

_______________________________________________________________________________

<26:89>From Eliana@attach.edu.ar Sat Oct 21 18:10:16 1995

From: Eliana@attach.edu.ar
Organization:  Attachment Research Center
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Date: Sat, 21 Oct 1995 18:39:15 +0000
Subject: Re: Universal selection theory and induction

On Thu, 19 Oct 1995 J. Miller wrote:

> On Wed, 18 Oct 1995 g-cziko@uiuc.edu (CZIKO Gary) wrote:
> >
> > I'd be interested to hear what other Darwin-L subscribers have to say about
> > this discussion.
> >
> > --Gary Cziko
>
> Gary, I would like to focus on the other half of the Darwinian paradigm -
> selective retention - as it relates to such phenomena as learning and
> science. I don't have too much of a problem with the first half, viz.
> blind variations, provided it is understood that this blindness affects
> only their foresight, not the hindsight. I am not sure whether you will
> agree with this particular way of phrasing it, but I think we are in
> substantial agreement thus far.
>
> Now the process of the selection of phenotypic variations is fairly
> straightforward. Those that "don't work" get eliminated. But when it comes
> to various human activities, what "works" and what "doesn't work" becomes
> less clear. I know that some people are not dismayed by this difficulty.
> Popperians, for example, insist on applying the same model of selection by
> elimination to everything. Induction, they say, is a myth. Humans learn
> and discover things by making random assumptions and then having them
> falsified either through experience or by matching them against the body
> of already accumulated (and presumably more reliable) information. What
> remains unfalsified, at least for the moment, is what we call knowledge. I
> find this part of the argument a little harder to swallow. I can think of
> several reasons why inductive learning would be favored by natural
> selection as opposed to the assumption-falsification route. But before I
> get into this, I would like to hear your comments. Do you also believe
> that induction has no role in human functioning and that we learn _only_
> by eliminating assumptions that didn't work?

Now this is a real melange.

The following misconceptions can be found in Miller's contentions :

1. He is wrong on Popper
2. Wrong on Discovery Context
3. Confuses Discovery Context with learning
4. Introduces the obscure notion of "inductive learning"
5. Arbitrarily introduces the notion that Natural Selection favours a
    method of learning. (Inductive learning to Miller's mind).
6. He seems to ignore Popper's repeated statements regarding
    learning, i.e., trial and error. (BTW, what's so sophisticated about
    it?)

1. In the first place, Miller seems to have totally missed Popper's
point as regards induction. Induction is not a myth. Induction is
simply an inadequate method to assess the validity of scientific
theories; simply because one never knows, one cannot possibly know,
whether a counterexample would not turn up to falsify the theory.
That's why Miller is wrong about Popper's contentions on induction.
See Popper's Logik der Forschung, 1934!! (The logic of Scientific
Discovery)

2. It is far from clear whether human minds discover anything
randomly. The way scientific theories are concocted in human minds is
still obscure and badly wants psychological research. This is known
by the mane of Discovery Context. (Nagel, 1975; Hempel, 1969)

3. Learning must be teased apart from the discovery of scientific
theories. Most animals learn, but no science whatsoever is involved.
(Hinde, Robert A., 1975, 1977, 1985)

4. What is inductive learning? I have never heard of anything like
it.

5. How do you know that Natural Selection favours "inductive
learning"?

6. Trial and error has been found to be the commonest form of
learning in mammals (Youniss, 1987, Demorel, 1990).

Besides, if we humans were prone to adhere to induction, we wouldn't
prove to be so addicted to maintaining theories even at the risk of
our lives. Take, for instance, the well-known case of the
MIchelson-Morley experiment which was devised to detect the
velocity of the Earth with respect to the hypothetical luminiferous
ether, a medium in space proposed to carry light waves. It was first
carried out by physicists A.A. Michelson and E.W. Morley in 1881 and
the test was later refined by them and many others for about 25
years. The procedure depended on the interferometer - of Michelson's
invention- a sensitive optical device tought to detect the difference
between the speed of light  in the direction of the Earth's motion
and the speed of light at right angles to the Earth's motion. No
difference was ever found. In spite of that, the experiment was
repeated over and over for about 25 years in the most trying
settings, The Rocky Mountains, The Alps, The Himalayas, and so on.
In spite of the fact that reality repeatedly denied them over and
over for almost a quarter of a century that no difference in the
light speeds could possible be detected, they obstinately thought
something must have been wrong with their experiment but never even
dreamt the theory they unwittingly were putting to trial was false.
It was not until Einstein delivered his Special Theory of Relativity
in 1905, that the Michelson-Morley experiment was definitely
dispensed with -since Einstein showed that lightspeed could not be
surpassed in the real world,
There are dozens of similar examples to be found in the history of
sciences. It seems that belief in a certain theoretical body of
knowledge is much more powerful than direct observations from
reality, and that falsiability is a modern construct -which we owe to
Popper- we are all too reluctant to adopt.

Moreover, the fact that reality checking is a belated acquisition in
human recorded history comes from the fact that the first to try to
explain earthly phenomena without resorting to supernatural causes
were the Greeks, about 2500 years ago, albeit that approach prevailed
for barely over 2 centuries and was interrupted till the Renaissance.
So, taken all in all, reality has been reluctanly adopted as a method
of monitoring our hypotheses about it for a meagre 800 years, as
against 6000 years of recorded history.

---Eliana Montuori

*********************************************
*           Eliana Montuori, MD             *
*       Attachment Research Center          *
*     Department of Early Development       *
* 1966 Juncal  1116 Buenos Aires  ARGENTINA *
* Tel: +54-1 812 5521   Fax: +54-1 812 5432 *
*********************************************

_______________________________________________________________________________

<26:90>From g-cziko@uiuc.edu Sun Oct 22 12:35:25 1995

Date: Sun, 22 Oct 1995 12:37:23 +0000
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: g-cziko@uiuc.edu (CZIKO Gary)
Subject: Patience Requested

[from Gary Cziko]

As a result of my introducing certain topics recently on Darwin-L, I have
been receiving quite a few private messages in addition to those sent to
Dawrin-L.

I do plan to respond to the issues raised in these messages, but given the
number of them and limits on my time, it make take some time before I get
to them all.  And while I don't want to make every one of my messages to
Darwin-L seem like an advertisement for my book, it is the case that many
of these issues ARE addressed in _Without Miracles_.

In the meantime, I am pleased to see others on Darwin-L joining the
dialogue, and this is one advantage to posting relevants comments to
Darwin-L rather than to me privately.

--Gary Cziko

_______________________________________________________________________________

<26:91>From clipo@u.washington.edu Sun Oct 22 22:53:29 1995

Date: Sun, 22 Oct 1995 20:53:15 -0700 (PDT)
From: Carl Lipo <clipo@u.washington.edu>
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re: Today in the Historical Sciences

> From: g-cziko@uiuc.edu (CZIKO Gary)
> Subject: Today in the Historical Sciences
>
> After Edison demonstrated his invention in December 1879, he was declared
> the "genius of Menlo Park."  Imagine, calling someone a "genius" who took a
> year and a half and over a thousand failed attempts before coming up with
> something that worked!  Looks like a lot of blind variation to me (I
> understand Edison sent associates to forests in South America and Japan to
> find exotic materials for his lamp filament--obviously sensing the
> importance of trying lots of different variations).

>[This is taken from another message from Eliana Montuori]

> 2. It is far from clear whether human minds discover anything
> randomly. The way scientific theories are concocted in human minds is
> still obscure and badly wants psychological research. This is known
> by the mane of Discovery Context. (Nagel, 1975; Hempel, 1969)

A great book that documents the "blind variation" generation in human
invention is:

Pool,  Ithiel de Sola
     1983  Forecasting the telephone : a retrospective technology
	   assessment.   ABLEX Pub, Norwood, N.J.

This books is a wonderful collection of studies and statements about the
telepone made before our current form of telephone became fixed. It makes
the point that it is too easy to look at the history of successes rather
than the failures -- scientists had no clue to what the telephone would
do, look like, how it fit into our society, etc.

Another related and extremely interesting study was published in Science
("Research Papers: Who's Uncited Now. Hamilton, David P., Science,
January 4, 1991). This study shows that few papers published by
scientists (in all fields) are ever cited *even by their own authors*.
Science is far from the directed, intentional endeavor we like to make it
out to be.

------------------------------------------------------------------
Carl Lipo
Department of Anthropology
University of Washington
Seattle, Washington 98195
Phone: (206) 543-7712
Fax: (206) 543-3285
email: clipo@u.washington.edu

_______________________________________________________________________________

<26:92>From g-cziko@uiuc.edu Mon Oct 23 12:15:57 1995

Date: Mon, 23 Oct 1995 12:17:51 +0000
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: g-cziko@uiuc.edu (CZIKO Gary)
Subject: Induction and Selection Theory

[from Gary Cziko]

Here is a rather general response to some recent discussion of the role of
induction in the growth of knowledge.

I think what is most important about a selectionist view of the growth of
knowledge is that sees theories as the creative invention of scientists.
Theories are not "caused" by the environment by repeated observations and a
process of induction.  Theory precedes observation, in the same way that
variation precedes selection in biological evolution.  Observation is then
used a type of "reality check" of theory eliminating those which are
inadequate, and tenatively retaining those which pass muster.

Biological evolution is also creative.  The enviroment does not cause
organisms to develop useful adaptations.  Instead, organism create their
own variations,  and those that are useful (adapted) are retained and
passed on to offspring.  The back of the tree toad may look like a photo of
the tree bark, but there is no photographic, inductive process which put it
there.  Instead, the tree frog itself created the pattern on its back.

Who ever saw a object in motion, never slowing down or stopping in Newton's
time?  Who ever saw light bent by gravity before Einstein came up with his
outlandish theory.  How could induction (repeated observations of a certain
phenomenon) ever explain the origin of these theories?

Einstein himself said that theory is not based on observation.  I will try
to find this quote, unless someone else has on hand.

I have appended below a relevant abstract from chapter 10 of _Without
Miracles_.

--Gary Cziko

[from Chapter 10 of _Without Miracles_]

The Problem of Induction

Bacon's writings on science and its method had a great impact in England
and on the European continent. Both Newton and Darwin acknowledged their
debt to Bacon, and shortly after his death various scientific societies,
such as the Royal Society in England and similar institutions on the
continent, were established to undertake the type of systematic, scientific
research that Bacon had advocated. Indeed, the remarkable success of Newton
in discovering the laws of nature that govern the movements of both
terrestrial and celestial bodies hinted that it was only a matter of time
before all of nature's secrets would eventually be uncovered using the
empirical, inductive method based on unbiased observation and objective
comparison.

But this was not to happen in the manner envisaged by Bacon and the new
breed of empirical scientist whom he influenced. A century after his death,
David Hume (see chapter 6) pulled the epistemological rug out from under
all attempts to arrive at a foolproof method of induction by which general
laws and theories could be discovered and justified by unprejudiced
observation of the natural world. In fact, it would appear that Bacon was
at least partially aware of the impending problem, as indicated by the
importance he placed on negative instances, as he shows in this account of
the power of prayer:

"And therefore it was a good answer that was made by one who when they
showed him hanging in a temple a picture of those who had paid their vows
as having escaped shipwreck, and would have him say whether he did not now
acknowledge the power of the gods,-"Aye," asked he again, "but where are
they painted that were drowned after their vows?" And such is the way of
all superstition, whether in astrology, dreams, omens, divine judgements,
or the like."

Bacon's concern with negative instances anticipates Popper's similar
emphasis on the essential role of refutation in science (to be discussed
next). But it apparently did not occur to Bacon to wonder, as it did later
to Hume, that if a negative instance (for example, experiencing silent
lightning) can lead one to reject a belief (that all lightning produces
thunder) previously supported by countless observations, how could one be
sure that for any general belief supported by observation that a negative
instance does not exist somewhere? Inasmuch as it is not possible to prove
that negative instances do not exist somewhere, it is not possible to be
absolutely certain of the truth of any general belief, scientific or
otherwise, no matter how well the belief has been supported by past
empirical observations.

Despite this serious logical and methodological difficulty, however,
science does appear to make progress in ways in which other belief systems,
such as religion, astrology, and palmistry, do not. If science is indeed
able to attain progressively better fit to the world it describes, we are
left with the puzzle of how this fit is achieved, since it is evident that
empirically based induction of the type advocated by Bacon and found
wanting by Hume is simply not up to the task of providing infallibly true
knowledge of the world.

Popper and Falsification

Science continued to make important breakthroughs at an accelerating pace
from the seventeenth through the twentieth centuries. It could be argued,
however, that no comparable breakthroughs occurred in understanding how
science was able to continue to make progress, that is, achieve better and
better fit with the objects and phenomena it described, until Sir Karl
Popper (1902-1994) confronted the problem. Popper grew up in Vienna during
a time of great intellectual and scientific activity in Europe in general
and in the Austrian capital in particular. As a student of the philosophy
of science, he was fascinated by the ability of science to achieve better
and better fits to the world it described, and consequently he set his mind
to determining what it was that set science apart in this respect from
nonscientific domains. What was it that allowed Newton and Einstein to
propose theories that were convincingly better than those provided by their
predecessors, whereas the political and economic theory of communism
offered by Marx and the psychoanalytic theory developed by Freud were not
demonstrably better than competing theories? Popper proposed a simple yet
bold solution to this problem of the "demarcation" of science from
nonscience and in so doing offered a solution to the vexing problem of
induction raised by Hume.

According to Popper, what sets science apart from nonscientific beliefs and
theories is that scientific theories are falsifiable. For instance, one of
Newton's laws of physics is that force is equal to mass times acceleration.
This theory can in principle be falsified by experimentation, since it
makes specific testable predictions. If the theory is correct, it should
take the same force to impart a certain acceleration to an object as it
takes to impart twice this acceleration to an object which has half the
mass. If this is found not to be the case, and no methodological errors
have been made, the theory must be rejected and a better one formulated and
tested in its place. This contrasts with Freud's psychoanalytic theory,
which is formulated in such a way as to make it immune from falsification.
If psychoanalytic theory says that all males are jealous of their father
and covet their mother but a certain male denies having these feelings, a
confirmed Freudian would argue that the male was repressing his true
feelings of paternal jealousy and maternal desire. Similarly, fields such
as astrology and palmistry are not scientific, since if a prediction does
not prove accurate, reasons can always be found after the fact why things
did not turn out as foretold.

Popper's discovery of the importance of falsification also had a side
benefit in that it solved the problem of induction. As already noted, a
scientific theory that proposes a general, universal law of nature can
never be rationally justified, since by virtue of its universality it must
go far beyond the limited observations of mortal scientists. So no matter
how many times it is observed that event A is followed by event B (for
example, heating water to 100=B0 C causes it to boil), it cannot be proved
logically that all A are followed by B. But whereas apparently confirming
cases cannot justify a scientific theory, disconfirming cases do allow us
to refute it. Finding a clear instance of A that is not followed by B (for
example, finding that in Death Valley water at 100=B0 C does not boil) means
that our theory must be revised or abandoned. Then a new theory must be
proposed that accounts for all that the old theory accounted for as the
well as new findings that it could not handle. According to Popper, the fit
of science is not due to observation and induction of true, justified (or
justifiable) theories, that is, the accurate, instructive transmission of
knowledge from the environment to the scientist. Rather, science progresses
through the creation of conjectures (guesses) and the subsequent weeding
out of inadequate hypotheses, leaving those that are better than the ones
eliminated only because they have not yet been eliminated themselves.

It did not escape Popper's attention that his view of the process of
scientific achievement had much in common with Darwin's selectionist theory
of biological evolution:

"The growth of our knowledge is the result of a process closely resembling
what Darwin called "natural selection"; that is, the natural selection of
hypotheses: our knowledge consists, at every moment, of those hypotheses
which have shown their (comparative) fitness by surviving so far in their
struggle for existence; a competitive struggle which eliminates those
hypotheses which are unfit."

Popper's view of scientific progress as a cumulative selection process
throws interesting new light on science and its achievements. First, in the
same way that biological evolution depends on the existence of blind
variation in the structure and behavior of organisms, science depends on
similar blind variation in hypotheses that are proposed. This does not mean
that the hypotheses are not constrained by the knowledge already achieved.
No respectable scientist is going to propose that the core of the earth is
made up of strawberry jam or the moon's surface is Swiss cheese. And no
whale is likely to give birth to a horse. In both biological evolution and
science, such constraints reflect the past accumulation of knowledge by
prior blind variation and selection and are essential in narrowing down the
types of future variations that appear. But the constraints alone cannot
account for the emergence of new and better fits of organism to the
environment, and scientific theory to the universe.

Second, an evolutionary perspective accounts for the tentative nature of
scientific theories. Each now-extinct species, which together make up a
much larger number than those species still extant, had before its
extinction been successful in surviving for quite some time, in some cases
hundreds of millions of years. But in none of these cases was this long
period of survival (which is clear evidence of fit to the environment) able
to guarantee the future success of the species. Similarly, the long-term,
popular acceptance of a scientific theory in no way guarantees that it will
not become extinct as better theories evolve to compete with it and
eventually replace it. The phlogiston theory of fire, the caloric theory of
heat, the ether theory of outer space, Newton's theory of mechanics, and
Lamarck's theory of evolution have all been eliminated in the struggle for
survival described by Popper, despite the fact that each was the best and
dominant theory of its day. So in addition to explaining how science can
achieve progressively better fit to the universe, the selectionist view as
proposed by Popper explains why we can never justify any particular theory
as absolutely and infallibly true. In the same way that previously
successful species become extinct, scientific theories are eliminated and
replaced by better ones.

Finally, a selectionist view emphasizes the creative role of the scientist.
Popper contended that the scientist's mind is not an epistemological bucket
that is filled with knowledge from the environment through the eyes, ears,
and other sensory organs. This is not unlike a Lamarckian view of evolution
in which the environment somehow instructs the reproducing organism to
create new adapted forms. Instead, the scientist actively constructs
knowledge in the form of unjustified theoretical conjectures, which are
then tested and compared to competing conjectures. In this way, the
scientist's experience of the world does not provide the theories to be
tested. Rather, observation is used to weed out the unsatisfactory ones
already constructed. As it is not possible to predict the course of
biological evolution, it is similarly impossible to predict the future
course of science. And because technological and social changes are
strongly influenced by scientific developments, it is similarly impossible
to predict the future course of history.

As falsification is the key ingredient to Popper's philosophy of science,
it should come as no surprise that Popper valued serious attempts to
falsify all proposed scientific hypotheses because it is only in this way
that the better theories can be selected and the poorer ones eliminated.
=46or this reason, Popper believed it is important that scientific theories
be given an "objective" existence in the form of spoken or (even better)
written words and other symbols that can be disseminated widely to other
scientists for scrutiny, for example, in the form of conference
presentations and publications.  The critical worldwide attention any
important new scientific theory now receives makes it increasingly
difficult for inadequate theories to survive for very long, as shown by the
animated flurry of research and refutation that followed the announcement
of cold nuclear fusion by two University of Utah physicists in 1989.
Indeed, it will be argued later that the increasingly strong global
selection pressure put on theories is an important factor in science's
rapid progress, and that considerably less global selection pressure has
been put on tradition and technology.

It should not be surprising that a philosophy of science as radically
different as Popper's has attracted considerable criticism.  But whereas
some philosophers continue their search for a completely reliable
scientific method based on the foolproof induction of general scientific
laws from observation and experiment, modern mainstream philosophy of
science has joined Popper at least insofar as rejecting an empiricist,
transmission perspective based on justified induction, and taking instead a
much more cautious, probing, fallible, tentative, and often evolutionary
view.

_______________________________________________________________________________

<26:93>From g-cziko@uiuc.edu Mon Oct 23 21:26:59 1995

Date: Mon, 23 Oct 1995 21:28:43 -0600
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: g-cziko@uiuc.edu (CZIKO Gary)
Subject: Selection, "Induction," Language

[from Gary Cziko]

Here's a nice summary of Popper's view of (the nonexistence of) induction,
followed by a selectionist view of language comprehension.

I find it particularly intriguing the possibility that much or all of human
perception involves cognitive variation and selection (evolution _in_ the
brain) since our perceptual experiences usually seem so direct and
"instructive."

============================================================

"Popper shows that induction does not exist.  Rejecting the empiricist
theory of learning as primitive and in conflict with biological knowledge,
Popper sees the mind as no passive "bucket" into which experience simply
rains and which can, at most, recombine that experience in various ways.
On the contrary, the mind actively anticipates the future with hypotheses
that, of necessity, go far beyond experience:  hypotheses precede
observations psychologically, logically, even genetically:  all experience
is theory impregnated.  Every animal is born with expectations--that is
with something closely parallel to hypotheses, which, if verbalized,
express hypotheses or theories.  The role of experience is to _break_
expectations:  to criticize and to challenge hypotheses.  The ability of an
animal to learn will depend on the extent to which it can modify
expectations contradicted by experience, on the extent to which it is able
to invent new expectations or theories to deal with unanticipated
situations" (p. 264).

Bartley, W. W., III. (1982). A Popperian harvest. In Paul Levinson (Ed.),
_In pursuit of truth: Essays on the philosophy of Karl Popper on the
occasion of his 80th birthday_ (pp. 249-289). Atlantic Highlands, NJ:
Humanities Press.

===================================================

"The sense in which utterances are understood not by a process of decoding,
but by an instrinsically variation and selection process of interactions
and apperceptions, just as for other "perceptual" processes, is often not
directly evident.  Much adult language understanding is of the well
practiced and habituated variety that needs only an initial satisfactory
interactive trial to be able to complete the interaction--it appears
algorithmic.  But the underlying variation and selection realities show up
whenever language understanding is difficult.  Such difficulty can be
manifested, for example, in attempting a garden path or ambiguous sentence,
or a difficult text, understanding a person in psychotherapy, or learning a
language as a child.  In all such cases, understanding proceeds, not
algorithmically, but with trials and errors, and shifts of considerations
among various aspects of the text, attempting to find an interpretation,
and understanding, that satisfies the selection pressures of the words, the
sentences, the text, the persons, and the context.  This process has come
to be called the hermeneutic circle (Heidegger, 1962; Gadamer, 1975)." (p.
24)

Bickhard, Mark H. (1992). How does the environment affect the person? In
Lucien T. Winegar & Jaan Valsiner (Eds.), _Children's development within
social contexts: Metatheoretical, theoretical and methodological issues_
(Vol. 2; pp. 33-52). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

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Darwin-L Message Log 26: 68-93 -- October 1995                              End

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