Thanks for allowing me to sling irresponsible  insults at you with impunity.
It has been VERY helpful to my recovery.  You might consider opening a


I considered calling "quantum randomness" "notional", but I wasn't sure WTF
I meant by that.  There's a dimension here I am groping to express.  Quantum
randomness and natural selection and gene are way out on that dimension as
things we believe in the concreteness of, yet they are far from our concrete
experience.  We experience them as foundations of our thought, yet we never
see them.  I guess the best I can say at this point is that something about
that makes me uneasy.  


I want to push back on "evolution just is".  Evolution is a way, and not
other ways.  Evolution is more directly presented to experience than is
natural selection.  Natural selection is the very abstract idea that
resolves problems and paradoxes raised in Darwin's imagination by his
"experience" of evolution.   Just as "gene" is a "pseudo-concrete" idea
that resolves paradoxes and problems raised in Mendel's pea-patch.  


I too am awaiting Dave's summary.  I have ordered the book from the library.
I wish I were there to take Dave's course. I am hoping that it will the
beginning of a great new career for him and he will decide to stay in Santa





Nicholas S. Thompson

Emeritus Professor of Psychology and Biology

Clark University


From: Friam [] On Behalf Of Steven A Smith
Sent: Saturday, August 12, 2017 12:05 AM
To: The Friday Morning Applied Complexity Coffee Group <>
Subject: Re: [FRIAM] random v stochastic v indeterminate


Nick -

... continued 

 What is presented to the world by the epigenetic system is not mutations
but "hypotheses" about ways to live.  And presumably epigenetic systems are
shaped by natural selection to produce  more or less plausible hypotheses.

And what is the "hypothesis generator" in epigenetics?  Is it stochastic or
deterministic? (and what examples of epigenetics are you thinking of?)  Is
"plausable" the term you want, or is it more "utilitarian"?

[NST==>What exactly do we imagine a "mutation" to be .nothing more or less
than a change in one or more letters of the code, or the surprising change
in the morphology or behavior of the creature that results?  The epigenetic
system has to "make" something of the code change.  There are gene editing
mechanisms and error correction mechanisms, and switches, on and off.  Drop
one letter of the code and the organism cannot make melanin;  but a lot of
work has to be done to turn that mishap into a "white bear."   <==nst] 

Yes, a "mutation" to the genome is a change in one or more letters of the
code.   A "mutation" in the metabolic processes implied by said genetic
sequence (a changed protein, a modified level of production of an unmodified
protein or set of same, etc.) and ultimately in the mature phenotype (if the
precursors to this are viable enough for a mature specimen to arrive?) and
beyond that the larger social unit (herd/pack/tribe) that might benefit or
suffer from the behaviour of the individual experiencing the mutation.   Add
individuals with a mutation in their bone-production that causes extremely
large cross-section bones and thick crania into the Vikings and you get
(what has been hypothesized to be) Berserker warriors who drop into a blind
rage when their blood pressure rises in response to threat.  As long as they
are pointing *toward* the enemy when that happens, it is (maybe) highly
functional for the group to have you around?   

  The randomness is largely notional.

I do think that "random" is a very loosey-goosey concept (like so many we
call out on this list), but whether the variation is produced by random
processes, pseudo-random processes, or merely processes with appropriately
broad distribution functions, 

the point is that the variation is not correlated with the selection process
in any significant way.  I think THAT is what *I* mean by random.  

[NST==>did you complete that thought? I am eager to know where you were
going with that sentence.<==nst] 


 I'm acknowledging that "random" is at least relative in most cases.  If we
go down to the quantum level, it takes on a more meaningful meaning but I
would claim one that requires much more sophisticated discussion to
penetrate.  I would claim that this is the kind of "random" that Penrose
postulates is necessary for (and explains) consciousness.  

   I still think you guys are more captured by your model of evolution than
by the actual facts of it. 

I think we (collectively) are guilty of this all of the time, though in the
spirit of "all models are wrong, some are useful" I'm not even sure I know
what a "model-free" fact might be?  

[NST==>Oh, no, Steve.  WAY too broad a brush.  The problem is that you in
danger of using the same model to explicate your understanding of the
phenomenon of evolution as you later use to explain how evolution came
about.  <==nst] 

BTW, I think you are conflating my words with those of the larger group.   I
don't think I've ever tried to even suggest "how evolution came about",
because that description doesn't even make sense to me... evolution "just
is" .   

I'm looking forward to Dave West's condensed summary of "Arrival of the

- Steve

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