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jimblake's Avatar Joined about 3 years ago
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Entropy, complexity, and a science-based solution to the free will problem - last commented 18 June 2011 11:34 PM

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Go to: Meme Theory, Zahavi's Handicap, and the Baldwin Effect

jimblake's Avatar Jump to comment 43 by jimblake


I've never said that replication doesn't occur or that it isn't impportant. Both replication and information are needed for evolution. The key feature is that the information (the gene) has an affect on the number of new copies of itself through feedback loops.

The gene is not the unit of replication. As I understand it, when a cell divides by meiosis, the new single chromosomes are assembled from random sections of each chromosome in the original pair without regard to gene boundaries. This can actually sometimes split the gene rather than replicating it. Because of the large amount of so called junk DNA this doesn't happen as often as it might. When cells divide by mitosis, the unit of replication is the chromosome, which includes all of its genes plus the junk DNA. The only time the gene is the unit of replication is during the transcription to RNA, when the protein is assembled according to the information in the gene to create a phenotype which can affect the number of copies of this gene in the gene pool.

The gene is not a SELF-replicator, but uses the complex process of meiosis to get copied, sometimes only partially and mixed with other often meaningless junk.

Sun, 29 Jul 2012 02:35:49 UTC | #950262

Go to: Meme Theory, Zahavi's Handicap, and the Baldwin Effect

jimblake's Avatar Jump to comment 35 by jimblake


.Secondly, because I think switching over to information distracts from the fact that replication is the key mechanism. Yes, there is information, but information is not the thing to focus on. There's a lot of information in the brains of living creatures and in computers, but it isn't all trying to replicate at all. Information is simply following instructions .

You assert that replication is the key mechanism and that information is not the thing to focus on. I dispute that. As you know, a DNA molecule with no meaningful information is not a gene, but the replication of the molecule will not produce evolution because the molecule itself will have no effect on the number of copies produced. However, a DNA molecule with genetic information written into its structure can produce evolution as it replicates because the meaning of that information may have an affect on the number of copies. That is why I say that the gene is the information and DNA is the medium.

I would say that replication is not the key mechanism and that information IS the thing to focus on. If something in the information in the gene or the meme has an affect on the number of copies produced, then mutation of that information can allow evolution to take place.

Thu, 26 Jul 2012 04:45:24 UTC | #950091

Go to: Meme Theory, Zahavi's Handicap, and the Baldwin Effect

jimblake's Avatar Jump to comment 26 by jimblake

Zeuglodon, I agree with OHooligan. You are over-analyzing this issue; reducing it down to unnecessary levels.

I think you are mistaken when you say that a gene is self-replicating. A gene is informtion. The medium for this information is DNA. There is nothing in the gene that tells it to copy itself. The information in the gene is copied by the DNA into another DNA molecule. The analogy with meme theory is that the 'meme' is information, the brain is the medium, and the brain copies the information into another brain.

I think that meme theory is just a possible explanation for cultural evolution that is on a different level than biological evolution.

Tue, 24 Jul 2012 18:32:09 UTC | #949992

Go to: The raw deal of determinism and reductionism

jimblake's Avatar Jump to comment 37 by jimblake

Comment 34 by nick keighley

I've no idea what "meaning" means in this case. Why do we nedd to ascribe meaning to arrays of particles?


natural laws don't ascribe meaning. Even heat moves about according to natural laws (heat flows from hotter to cooler).

Because if the structure of those arrays of particles are what determines what happens, then that structure must have 'meaning'.

'Meaning' can arise by evolution. The arrangement of nucleotides in a DNA molecule can 'mean' that a particular amino acid should be inserted in a protein chain. This meaning likely evolved before life existed. When heat moves from hotter to cooler, it is part of a system of hot and cool areas. The structure of the system has 'meaning' in the sense that it determines where the heat will flow. If the heat is all the same temperature, there is no structure and nothing will happen.

Sat, 14 Jul 2012 18:15:36 UTC | #949204

Go to: The raw deal of determinism and reductionism

jimblake's Avatar Jump to comment 11 by jimblake

I think you’ve written the most thoughtful discussion on this topic I’ve seen on this site. You’ve touched on all the relevant issues affecting an understanding of what is really going on. I’d like to add some comments about determinism and causality.

The idea that the future could be predicted from information about the position and movement of all particles and atoms using the laws of physics is something that appeals to our biases about causality. However, even if we could overcome the indeterminacy principle, we still could not predict future events. That is because all we would know is the future position and motions of the particles and atoms, but we wouldn’t know what it means. If none of it meant anything, nothing would happen; it would just be heat energy. Even if we knew what some of it meant from past experience, we couldn’t be sure that some of the meaning hadn’t changed or that some new meaning hadn’t been added.

The meaning of the ordered energy in the universe has been changing and evolving since the Big Bang, by random variation and some sort of filtering or selection process. This meaning is determined by the structure of the complex systems of ordered energy that have been evolving. The energy to make something happen ultimately comes from the Big Bang, but the meaning in the structure of complex systems determine what actually happens. As more complex systems evolved, eventually living complex systems emerged that could create the structure of meaning in real time through learning, visualization, and design.

As the meanings of meanings of meanings in systems of systems of systems became more complex, the effect of the causation became more probabilistic, because there were more things that could go wrong. In order to explain how a stop sign causes a car to stop, we have to resort to discussing information and meaning. There is a high probability that the sign will cause the car to stop, but it’s not as certain as a block wall. If there is any problem transmitting the information or understanding the meaning or any mechanical problems with the car, it won’t stop.

Individual particles don’t make things happen, it’s when they work together in systems that things happen. In the early simpler universe there may have been only one or two things that could happen. In today’s complex universe, with so many complex systems, there is a vast multitude of things that can happen. The reason that we feel that we can make things happen is that we are complex systems, and complex systems determine what happens. We have complex structures in our brains that can be altered in real time to make new things happen.

Thu, 12 Jul 2012 04:38:09 UTC | #948951

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