RE: virus: Sham(an) again

Eva-Lise Carlstrom (
Wed, 17 Sep 1997 09:20:35 -0700 (PDT)

On Wed, 17 Sep 1997, Robin Faichney wrote:

> > From: David McFadzean[]
> >
> > At 12:02 PM 9/16/97 -0700, Eva-Lise Carlstrom wrote:
> >
> > >That depends on the question. If the question is "Are the blue rocks
> > all
> > >salty?", then by sucking them you're testing a hypothesis. That's a
> > >scientific experiment. If, however, the question is "What do all
> > these
> > >things taste like, anyway?", it's simply sampling, not testing any
> > >particular hypothesis.
> >
> > Maybe I'm being stubborn again, but I don't understand how exploring
> > the world can be considered the reverse of science. (Has anyone found
> > the reference in the Principia Cybernetica web?)
> >
> This is one of the fundamental principles of evolution. There is no
> theoretical aspect to it, whatsoever, which is why it's not science.
> This is not a case of which comes first, experiment or hypothesis,
> because there is no hypothesis, and therefore, unless you use
> the word very loosely, no experiment either.

The principle in question seems to be: random, undirected mutation,
combined with selective survival, is sufficient to produce evolution, and
that it is not necessary to postulate directed mutation to explain the
data. It appears to me that the hypothesis is thus that undirected
mutation is in fact what goes on in evolution. This has been tested
against some of the alternatives, but not all of them. Plenty of
experimenters have attempted to show the inheritance of acquired
characteristics, and failed to do so with any dependability of result.
It's much harder to test for, say, the hand of God guiding mutations, or
some similar effect skewing for helpful changes. If such intervention
is meaningful, that is, if its results are measurably different from what
should be produced working from chance mutations, then discovery of the
difference will have to come from careful analysis of multiple-factor
interactions and timing of changes. Arguments about it, where such
arguments are scientific, thus center around whether random mutation is
sufficient to explain the speed and manner of change in given cases, based
on what evidence we have.
Robin, I'm not sure I'm entirely clear on the point you're making.
Is your point that science is assuming random mutation, in the absence of
evidence for a directive force? That Occam's Razor is an item of faith?

shaving with Occam's razor, and finding herself a slightly simpler solid.