Maxx’s (2016) article ‘Alpha’ ain’t born… is an important interpretation that is consistent with the workings of human nature. But it is at odds with the mainstream’s genocentric, Neo-Darwinian life-science paradigm. If we are to properly understand human motivations and psychology, then Darwinism, in all its manifestations, needs to be dumped in favour of a more realistic paradigm. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate that Darwinism’s principle failure is at its foundations, and there is little point trying to fix it.
(Armchair theorists, as science-hobbyists who have no investment in real science beyond what they read in Sunday magazines or watch on television, will indignantly stamp their feet with their predictable “because Darwin” objections. This article is not directed at them. I suggest that they find a different hobby where they cannot hurt anyone… maybe a computer game or stamp-collecting.)
In accordance with Occam’s razor, elegant simplicity is valued in science, and this is a good thing. An elegant, simple solution has to reflect reality, and in that spirit, Isaac Newton is king. Patterned on this Newtonian initiative, in the pursuit of elegant simplicity in science, follows the inspiration to regard Darwin in the same light. But Charles Darwin’s formulation is simplistic, not simple. It is inelegant and clumsy because it falls apart in its simplistic reliance on its principle axiom, natural selection. Darwinism is a two-legged stool where its third leg – that which varies and is selected for – is clumsily accounted for. At best, natural selection can provide only a partial account of what takes place within any ecosystem.
My concern with the problems of Darwinism is not an idle one… it has implications that affect people’s lives. The success of feminism, for example, in inserting itself into the cultural narrative and establishing its dominance in western secular liberalism, is attributable to the irreparably broken life-science paradigm that is Darwinism… especially in its contemporary manifestation as Neo-Darwinism.
But at least Darwin, in his acceptance of the theory of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, provided a not wholly unreasonable account for the missing third leg. Things really start getting out of hand after Darwin’s passing, when genetics enters the Darwinian narrative in order to factor in the source of variety. Thus was born Neo-Darwinism. In its assumptions grounded in genetic determinism, Neo-Darwinism has taken the role of choice and meaning out of the life-science equation, in favour of an infotech narrative that portrays behavioural characteristics as adaptive traits. It is accepted by the mainstream as the foundation upon which to reason a secular narrative, and the damage inflicted by Neo-Darwinism is less in reason than it is in the breakdown of reason itself. Reason that escapes rigorous scrutiny opens the floodgates to absence of reason, and it becomes permissible to give substance to narrative over evidence. Neo-Darwinism represents a breakdown of the scientific method and the jettisoning of rationality itself. This is nowhere better illustrated than in the failure of Neo-Darwinism to address the problem of entropy (the tendency to disorder).
Neo-Darwinism’s willingness to turn a blind eye to entropy establishes a predisposition that tugs at every other inconvenient truth that is problematic for the scientific agenda. One disturbing manifestation of this is the breakdown of our peer-review process, which Richard Horgen (2015) laments in The Lancet:
The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. As one participant put it, “poor methods get results”. The Academy of Medical Sciences, Medical Research Council, and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council have now put their reputational weight behind an investigation into these questionable research practices. The apparent ende1micity of bad research behaviour is alarming.
The bottom line… it is not that Neo-Darwinism is just getting a few facts wrong. And it is not that it is broken beyond repair. It is that Neo-Darwinism is contaminating the whole of our life sciences itself with a broken, corrupt methodology that is anything but scientific. As Horton observes, “In their quest for telling a compelling story, scientists too often sculpt data to fit their preferred theory of the world.” This is precisely what is taking place with Neo-Darwinism’s failure to properly address entropy. The reality of entropy is inconvenient to the Neo-Darwinian narrative. And the solution is to do exactly what feminists do when confronting truths that are inconvenient to a cherished narrative… ignore them.
Does Life imitate art? Or is it Art that imitates Life? Or should that be Politics that imitates Broken Science? It is no accident that corrupt politics is imitating an irreparably bankrupt methodology that has more in common with faith than with science.
Let us now tackle Neo-Darwinism’s Achilles’ heel… the failure to properly address entropy.
THE NEED TO TAKE ENTROPY SERIOUSLY
There is no interpretation of Darwinism, Evo-psych or any other mainstream biology that will explain the goings-on in the video clip by MoreThinking (2013), on the Inner Life of the Cell. What is needed is a revised, interdisciplinary interpretation of the biological sciences, one that factors in the important considerations, such as entropy.
Throughout history, people have held an intuitive awareness that a universe by dumb luck is impossible. They may not have understood why, but their instinct connects with the law of entropy. The Muslim in this video clip (ThinkIslam, 2014), not a scientist, is expressing the same sentiment. He gets what Neo-Darwinian atheists refuse to get; he is expressing an intuitive albeit imperfect awareness that entropy… that is, ordered complexity by dumb luck… is nonsense.
Entropy is a concept from the second law of thermodynamics. It manifests in both the physical and the life sciences as the tendency to disorder. Biological structures are complex and, left to the physics of their surrounding environments, they are unstable and will be reconstituted into the surrounding dirt… that is unless they are alive. The key question then is, what is it about being alive that resists entropy?
The challenge for complexity is entropy. In an infinite universe across infinite time, remarkable accidents attributable to randomness will occasionally materialize to create complexity. But:
It is the persistence of complexity across time that is the deal-breaker.
It is because of entropy that the persistence of complexity across time needs to be taken seriously. Within an infinite universe across infinite time, a pile of rubble or a stream of molten lava might occasionally manifest as what looks, for all intents and purposes, like a wall built by a designer of some kind – or maybe, by the confluence of the freakiest of events, even a home designed by a stone-mason. Now a solid wall or house might be pretty robust when it comes to the forces of entropy, like erosion and such, but for how many centuries might it stand, all by itself, without renovation or rejuvenation? At the micro level that is relevant to life’s processes, however, any complex structure that might manifest by chance is unlikely to persist beyond a few days, or maybe even hours or seconds, when subjected to the elements.
The infinite monkey theorem famously suggests that, given infinite time, teams of monkeys typing randomly will, at random, happen upon a draft of Leo Tolstoy’sWar and Peace. Said theory is problematic because of entropy. Typewriters break down and need to be maintained, paper rots with mould, rooms housing typewriters burn or get washed away by floods, and planets housing typing pools have to survive the endings of their suns’ life-cycles. If we were to persist with this absurdly unrealistic thought experiment, the maintenance of said typing-pools requires intervention by minds to keep them maintained and to run.
And were our hypothetical draft of War and Peace even to make it through the entropy gauntlet, oh what a special and unique occurrence that would be… a unique, and fragile occurrence, less resilient to the effects of air and water than a feather in a hurricane.
There is no crossing the entropy Rubicon. There is no marvellously accidental complexity anywhere in the universe that will withstand the relentless onslaught of entropy from all quarters. It is the ability of complexity to persist across time that renders null-and-void any possibility of persistent complexity by dumb luck. Which brings us to the probable mutation effect.
Byles, R.H. (1972) (Limiting Conditions for the Operation of the Probable Mutation Effect) provides a competent coverage of the sorts of things that need to be addressed; like the conflicts between mutation rates (back-mutation, forward-mutation, etc.). These issues are non-trivial, for example:
Is the mutation rate volatile enough to enable change? Is it stable enough to maintain form and consistency?
How significant must a change be to impact on survival and thus, subject the organism to the influence of natural selection?
Are the required states “logically inconsistent” – that is, can there be a mutation rate that satisfies the mix of stability and volatility required for evolution by mutation?
Aren’t the vast, overwhelming majority of mutations, as an expression of the inexorable march of entropy, detrimental to survival and prone to inefficient formlessness, rather than efficient, purposeful form?
Can evolution by micro-mutations occur if the changes aren’t significant enough to be noticed by natural selection, bearing in mind the organism’s very real capacity to adapt to minor limitations?
… and so on.
The idea of evolution by dumb luck is just a dumb idea. It is the worship of a golden calf entertained in ignorance of a compelling life-science based on a compelling axiomatic framework. Natural selection is a mechanism; it is not a principle that justifies being expressed in the context of an axiomatic framework.
There exists a solution to the entropy problem. Mind-stuff. To this end, imitation is particularly relevant.
IMITATION RESISTS ENTROPY
It is ironic that one of the most important possibilities for the mainstream biological sciences comes from ϋber-atheist Richard Dawkins. It was Dawkins himself that introduced the narrative into biology, thus establishing imitation as an important principle at least for humans in culture. In the context of Dawkins’ memetic narrative, imitation is how memes (loosely defined as units of imitation) spread throughout a culture. Of course, Dawkins failed to appreciate the full significance of this insight, and the opportunity to harness imitation as a fundamental principle for the life sciences was left to flounder. In its place, the Dawkins’selfish gene interpretation asserted its dominance, and the possibilities implied in the memetic narrative retired to the status of a footnote. We are thus left with an infotech narrative that renders imitation as an instinct and therefore a trait coded into the DNA, much like one’s height, or the colour of one’s eyes is an adaptive trait. The possibility that imitation might play a major role in informing living entities about the things that matter (pragmatism) thus fails to make an impact.
In contrast to The Establishment’s infotech narrative, there exists a semiotic narrative (Charles Sanders Peirce) where imitation is more appropriately thought of as what mind-bodies do to decide on the things that matter ( a term from semiotics – pragmatism). An organism’s timely response is important in resisting entropy and increasing its odds of survival, and imitation fast-tracks its ability to learn the things that matter. Regarding human culture, imitation saves us from having to reinvent the wheel. Just do what everyone else is doing, and you optimize your chances of survival… and of course who you choose as a role model to imitate can impact on wealth and success or punishment and failure. The same line of thinking applies to any organism that has to make choices from its colony.
Why does imitation resist entropy? Because it reduces uncertainty and risk. Imitation implies conformity. At its most extreme, imitation is a tight, rigid and inflexible body of stubbornness that is impervious to the forces that try to deform it. Imitation is anti-entropy. Imitation accounts for the behavioural momentum that is integral to the ability for life to persist across time. It is how an organism knows how to be.
Imitation is calibrated differently for different organisms… and sexes. Indeed, imitation provides a basis for understanding gender roles that are impossible to achieve from a solely Darwinian perspective. For example, gender roles relate very specifically to how imitation plays out in human cultures. Female nature is predisposed to the cultural known while male nature is predisposed to the boundary between the cultural known and the unknown. Hence, the inclination of female nature to imitate priorities resonant with security and stability, and that of male nature to imitate priorities resonant with risk and uncertainty. Contrast this simple but significant insight with the trite “because genes” narrative on which Neo-Darwinism relies. Something like “women want to be provided for because they are programmed to in the genes” goes the narrative, and so women’s priorities and motivations (e.g., hypergamy) don’t enter easily into the discourse.
I do not wish to dwell much further here on the topic of imitation, as it comes with nuances that are beyond the purpose of this essay. Imitation is the visible surface of much deeper philosophical concerns, for example, as they relate to phenomenology, pragmatism, and epistemology… their direction of influence is principally from the bottom-up. In the interests of simplicity, we don’t need to go there, because imitation’s direction of influence is from the top-down… it is the system that informs us of the behaviours that are expected and therefore, to be imitated.
Before departing from this line of thought, though, we should satisfy ourselves that imitation is pretty fundamental to any colony of entities, be they humans, meerkats, ants, bees, neurons or bacteria. The topics of systems theory and neuroplasticity are especially relevant, and writers like Howard Bloom, Lynn Margulis, Francisco Varela and Humberto Maturana have extensively studied the parallels that exist between human colonies (culture), cellular colonies and insect colonies. More recently, McDonald (2015) reports that Biologists Discover Bacteria Communicate Like Neurons in the Brain. This is all still fairly new territory with new developments and opportunities cropping up all the time. There is simply no justification for the “because Darwin” gospel and its infotech narrative, and the sooner that this ball-and-chain is given the heave-ho, the better off that science and society will be.
A DIFFERENT PARADIGM FOR A DIFFERENT VIEW OF THE UNIVERSE
For the purpose of illustration, let us indulge in some untested conjecture, to get a handle on what opportunities might be being missed in this blind, unswerving devotion to Darwinian dogma.
There is an appreciation emerging, in some circles, that something analogous to imitation might play out in the quantum physics of atoms and molecules (e.g., David Bohm’s implicate and explicate order). The remarkable complexity of a cell, with the interactions and interdependencies taking place within it, requires very precise and consistent properties in the atoms and molecules of which it is comprised. For example in the above-referenced video clip, Inner Life of the Cell, a motor protein fulfills a very precise and specific function. Proteins are molecules. So how might a motor protein “know” its properties and the conduct that is essential to a cell’s survival? How might entanglement (nonlocality) factor into this? DNA entanglement is an idea that is increasingly making an appearance in some circles, based on the realization that the principles of quantum mechanics apply as much to molecules as they do to subatomic particles. And where do the elements, the atoms of which the molecules of life are comprised, come from? The astonishing complexity of a cell would be impossible without the very precise properties of the same “dumb dirt” that is likely to exist on other planets throughout the universe. There is “something” going on that needs to be properly addressed, and Neo-Darwinism is a dead weight that is restraining us from going there.
Getting our paradigm right has real implications not just for our lives, but also for how we view the universe itself. At one extreme is a sterile, lifeless universe of limited possibilities, and it is to the mechanics of dumb luck that we owe our very narrowly proscribed existence. We know the spiel… racism this, oppression that, because genes, Patriarchy bad. And at the opposite extreme is a dynamic, living universe of infinitely many possibilities that we can barely guess at, and our appearance is anything but accidental. How we interpret a cultural phenomenon and respond to it is contingent on where on this continuum our assumptions lie. What is the best way to contend with whatever cultural stupid might manifest? Do we take the stupid seriously, and respond to it on its terms? Or do we see it for what it is – as a cultural expression of, say, the Darwinian narrative – and try to change the narrative? One paradigm is distracted by symptoms while the other contends with cause.
Fundamentalist atheism, with its Neo-Darwinian foundations, is a religion. Atheism’s “just lack of belief” is a belief because it requires faith not only in the Neo-Darwinism that it assumes to be “just reality” (“just lack of belief”), but it must deny the reality of entropy. Denial of reality requires false belief to justify denying it, hence the need to turn a blind eye to the reality of entropy.
Fundy atheism also requires the absence of rationality to justify constructing a behemoth of theory in the absence of an axiomatic framework. This translates to an absence of strategy. Strategic thinking is as relevant to good science as it is to successful business or formidable military, and cobbling together many facts that don’t hang together does not a good science make. A bucket of arbitrary facts, as what atheism relies on, is like a bucket of engine parts… if you don’t know how everything fits together, then all you have is a bucket of junk.
Natural selection (variation and selection) is a two-legged stool that is missing its third leg… that which varies and is selected for.
Neo-Darwinism is junk science that informs the junk culture to which feminism owes its existence. It is no accident that some of our most famous atheists (e.g., Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Paul Zachary Myers), at least at this time of writing, consider themselves feminists. Before political correctness, it was sensible to judge people by the company they kept. May we revive and extend the same rationale to judge collectives, and the broken science that keeps company with delusional ideology.
Byles, R. H. (1972, March). Limiting Conditions for the Operation of the Probable Mutation Effect. Social Biology, 19:1 29-34. Retrieved April 10, 2016, from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/19485565.1972.9987962?journalCode=hsbi19
Horton, R. (2015, April 11). Offline: What is medicine’s 5 sigma? The Lancet, 385 (9976), 1380. Retrieved April 4, 2016, from http://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736(15)60696-1.pdf
Maxx. (2016, April 2). ‘Alpha’ ain’t born… Retrieved April 7, 2016, from A Voice for Men: http://www.avoiceformen.com/men/mens-health/alpha-aint-born/
McDonald, K. (2015, October 21). Biologists Discover Bacteria Communicate Like Neurons in the Brain. UC San Diego News Center. Retrieved December 10, 2015, from http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/pressrelease/biologists_discover_bacteria_communicate_like_neurons_in_the_brain
MoreThinking (2013, January 9). Inner Life of the Cell (Full Version – Narrated). [YouTube – XVIVO for Harvard University]. Retrieved April 04, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzcTgrxMzZk
ThinkIslam (2014, February 13). Atheism Explained in 45 Seconds. [YouTube – Silver Edge Media]. Retrieved April 05, 2016, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwqPdWZvjAY