Bare Bones Biology 202 – Gary #1 – It’s a Natural Process and it Takes Time

Gary said:

“Lynn, when I took a class in evolution some fifty years ago the dogma of the day was that evolution was very slow and gradual and that change occurred due to random mutations. Random never made any sense to me at all, and now we have the new science of epigenetics, which, as far as I can see, gives the lie to random. The fossil record shows punctuated equilibrium, not slow and steady–and yet I believe these two “scientific” doctrines are still taught as gospel. Have any opinions on this?”

140424-SnowySunrise-asc_8884RLSs copyIn answer, Gary, you have presented two good ideas as though they were alternatives. They are not. For the first, aside from being a bit hokey, there is nothing wrong with Tyson’s account of dog evolution in his second Cosmos program ( I did not hear him say that slow and steady is the only kind of evolution, and of course it’s not.
For the second, punctuated equilibrium (biological saltation) is also a reasonably well established concept. For example, one fairly recent scientific publication in Nature – a high-level scientific journal:

(Nature 463, 349-352 (21 January 2010) | doi:10.1038/nature08630; Received 18 August 2009; Accepted 29 October 2009; Published online 9 December 2009. Phylogenies reveal new interpretation of speciation and the Red Queen).

Wikipedia is a source of facts about science and evolution, but it may not be very helpful in explaining why random mutation seems to be counter-intuitive, or how all these facts fit together into a description of how the Law of Evolution maintains Life on earth and why it’s important for us to understand.

Science is about facts; not dogma and not debate. Dogma and debate are human problems, and facts are not human. They just are. Basic science is a very effective method of finding out what they are. Basic biology wants to know the facts about how Life works/functions to stay alive. And basically Life works/functions according to very consistent, rigid, unemotional natural laws. The natural law of evolution uses interacting genotypes, phenotypes and processes to maintain Life (

Why doesn’t everyone understand how the facts fit together to describe the process of evolution? Mostly because, if we are scientists, we don’t know everything about all the steps in the processes we are studying. Or, if we are educators, we fail to explain steps in the process that seem to one person self-evident and to another person counter-intuitive. The third reason for our unquestioned dogmas is Corposystem de-education.

Basic science does not lend itself to soundbites or to linear thinking, nor does it function in outline format. Basic science asks how the Law of Evolution functions to make Life stay alive. The answer to that question is complicated; it is all interconnected – all about balance. It is the corposystem that promotes dogma, human opinions and debate. The corposystem does not teach about our biological context — and certainly not about facts. Nevertheless, facts are facts. Facts are not debatable; only our human opinions are debatable.

And if we ever want to use the real facts to do something more useful than debating soundbites out of context we must defy the corposystem, stop debating, and start studying and discussing the facts within the factual context of process. That’s including us good guys. Especially the good guys.

140424-SnowySunrise-asc_8867RLS copy 2I have been kindly advised many times in recent years — how to “do it right.” That is, how to modify the facts of Life (or at least the context) in my writing so that people will want to read what I write. That’s the corposystem model (fight, win, earn). It’s not the scientific model, but it is what most people do to win money, arguments, awards – or in the belief that simplified (reductionist; soundbite; devoid of its nonhuman, unemotional, factual, implacable context) information will provide a more useful education. What it really provides is confusion and division (divide and conquer the people). If we only listen with the ears trained by the corposystem, we cannot understand science no matter how it is presented, because it does not make sense within in the human corposystem belief system. If we cannot think of the corposystem as a nonessential component of the Biosystem, then we cannot understand science. Because science studies the far more powerful and implacable system of Life itself.

The power of good science for humans lies in our ability to build a human society that is sustainable and reasonably comfortable unto the seventh generation and beyond ( with Bill Moyers AccountabilityB.mp3)
To this end, human “female power” (“Powers of the Weak”, Elizabeth Janeway) tries to use science to align itself with the power of factual reality and thus to enhance its total power; human “male power,” on the other hand, tries to use science to dominate and win. Most of us today seem to prefer human baby power: if you cry hard enough someone will give you whatever you want.
Our corposystem – our culture — is based in the model of human male power feeding human baby power.

140423-canyon_DSC9815RLSs copyGod and His created Laws of Nature are not only for human males, not only for humans, but for Life itself. Life will survive; the corposystem probably will not make it to 2050 — humans perhaps a big longer — even though it only would take a little reverence, and a little humility and compliance, to embrace our place within His awesome works.

If we want to empower ourselves “unto the seventh generation” – or more. We need to study the biological facts that we already understand, and discuss how to use them for that purpose.

Oh well. I got distracted by the context again. Next time let’s discuss why nothing is perfect, and why random mutations are not counter-intuitive.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy and KEOS FM 98.1, Bryan, Texas. with Bill Moyers AccountabilityB.mp3

Nature 463, 349-352 (21 January 2010) | doi:10.1038/nature08630; Received 18 August 2009; Accepted 29 October 2009; Published online 9 December 2009. Phylogenies reveal new interpretation of speciation and the Red Queen. To get this reference you need a library.
Thom Hartmann, “Cracking the Code,” Berrett-Koehler Pub., Inc, San Francisco, 2007.
Elizabeth Janeway, “Powers of the Weak”

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