Technocratic manipulations: Sorry, no Darwingate on theory
Sorry, there wont' be a Darwingate on evolution. The journalists got muzzled on this one. Still the question remains, what did they know, and when did they know it.
And why are most Darwin books misleading?
Dawkins' stance on genetic engineering foments the very distrust he wishes to combat. Quite apart from the complex issues involved, and I endorse no kneejerk rejection here, the fact of the matter is that humanity is embarking on one of the most complex technological innovations in history with a systematic legacy of theoretical mendacity on the subject of evolution, and this aspect of technocratic ideological manipulation reigns unchecked. I am no Creationist, not by a long shot, but the sordid joke here is that fundamentalists seem to be the only people with the presence of mind to know there is a problem with evolutionary theory.
This field is a disgrace, and I include the reverse deceptions of Creationists.
A distorted theory of evolution, and the unwillingness to be truthful to the public, sets an ominous precedent at the dawn of GE.
So whatever else is the case, we cannot trust the word of scientists here. The main theory of evolution gives an inadequate picture of man, and what's worse a host of theorists know it, but don't say so. Look at the recent Origination of Organismal Form, Muller and Newman. This isn't Darwinism.
Current evolutionary theory is undergoing a rapid transformation, and yet the public is and has been fed on Dawkins for a generation, and with theories that were obsolete almost at the point they were invented. If you don't believe this compare the current texts, on the forefront with a work by Soren Lovtrup, Darwinism: Refutation of a Myth, by an embryologist who clearly tried to blow the whistle in the eighties. His thinking has been confirmed, yet now we see that the field morphing public opinion without acknowledgement of any mistakes, problems or seriously changes.
So whatever the issues with genetic engineering, we must not forget who we are dealing with. The biological profession simply does not have an adequate view of man. And will take no steps to debrief or review its history, legacies,and cryptic paradigms manipulations.
That does not breed confidence at the point where the commerical and technocratic manipulation of man and man's self-image is being handed a massively complex technology to play with, beyond review, and armed at all points with the institutional and media clout that can preempt any intelligent review of what's what.
Dawkins has made his bundle, why doesn't he just quit while he is ahead? Surely he knows this crap about computer programs (actually a great idea properly presented) doesn't really hack it.
Ladies and gentlemen, the sci estab isn't trustworthy about evolution. So shall we trust them on genetic engineering?
Genetics: why Prince Charles is so wrong
Tuesday, January 28, 2003
By Richard Dawkins
Genes work just like computer software, says this writer - which is why the luddites don't get it, but their children probably will.
IT IS HARD TO EXAGGERATE the sheer intellectual excitement of genetics. What has happened is that genetics has become a branch of information technology. The genetic code is truly digital, in exactly the same sense as computer codes. This is not some vague analogy, it is the literal truth. Moreover, unlike computer codes, the genetic code is universal. Modern computers are built around a number of mutually incompatible machine languages, determined by their processor chips. The genetic code, on the other hand, with a few very minor exceptions, is identical in every living creature on this planet, from sulphur bacteria to giant redwood trees, from mushrooms to men. All living creatures, on this planet at least, are the same “make”.
The consequences are amazing. It means that a software subroutine (that’s exactly what a gene is) can be carried over into another species. This is why the famous “antifreeze” gene, originally evolved by Antarctic fish, can save a tomato from frost damage. In the same way, a Nasa programmer who wants a neat square-root routine for his rocket guidance system might import one from a financial spreadsheet. A square root is a square root is a square root. A program to compute it will serve as well in a space rocket as in a financial projection.
What, then, of the widespread gut hostility, amounting to revulsion, against all such “transgenic” imports? This is based on the misconception that it is somehow “unnatural” to splice a fish gene, which was only ever “meant” to work in a fish, into the alien environment of a tomato cell. Surely an antifreeze gene from a fish must come with a fishy “flavour”. Surely some of its fishiness must rub off. Yet nobody thinks that a square-root subroutine carries a “financial flavour” with it when you paste it into a rocket guidance system. The very idea of “flavour” in this sense is not just wrong but profoundly and interestingly wrong. It is a cheerful thought, by the way, that most young people today understand computer software far better than their elders, and they should grasp the point instantly. The present Luddism over genetic engineering may die a natural death as the computer-illiterate generation is superseded.
Is there nothing, then, absolutely nothing, in the misgivings of Prince Charles, Lord Melchett and their friends? I wouldn’t go that far, although they are certainly muddleheaded. The square-root analogy might be unfair in the following respect. What if it isn’t a square root that the rocket guidance program needs, but another function which is not literally identical to the financial equivalent? Suppose it is sufficiently similar that the main routine can indeed be borrowed, but it still needs tweaking in detail. In that case, it is possible that the rocket could misfire if we naively import the subroutine raw. Switching back to biology, although genes really are watertight subroutines of digital software, they are not watertight in their effects on the development of the organism, for here they interact with the environment furnished by other genes. The antifreeze gene might depend, for optimal effect, on an interaction with other genes in the fish. Plonk it down in the foreign genetic climate of a tomato, and it might not work unless properly tweaked (which can be done) to mesh with the existing tomato genes.
What this means is that there is a case to be made on both sides of the argument, and we need to exercise subtle judgment. The genetic engineers are right that we can save time and trouble by climbing on the back of the millions of years of R & D that Darwinian natural selection has put into developing biological antifreeze (or whatever we are seeking). But the doomsayers would also have a point if they softened their stance from emotional gut rejection to a rational plea for rigorous safety testing. No reputable scientist would oppose such a plea. It is rightly routine for all new products, not just genetically engineered ones.
A largely unrecognised danger of the obsessive hysteria surrounding genetically modified foods is crying wolf. I fear that, if the Green movement’s high-amplitude warnings turn out to be empty, people will be dangerously disinclined to listen to other more serious warnings. The evolution of antibiotic resistance among bacteria is a vicious wolf of proven danger. Yet the menacing footfalls of this certain peril are all but drowned out in the caterwauling shrieks over genetically modified foods, whose dangers are speculative at most. To be more precise, genetic modification, like any other kind of modification, is good if you modify in a good direction, bad if you modify in a bad direction. Like domestic breeding, and like natural selection itself, the trick is to introduce the right new DNA software. The realisation that software is all it is, written in exactly the same language as the organism’s “own” DNA, should go a long way towards correcting muddled thinking.
World History and the Eonic Effect
World History and the Eonic Effect