The Evolution of Evolution

An interesting article in a recent New Scientist magazine.

What research is uncovering is that most evolution is NOT taking place “vertically” through inheritance from ancestors. Genes are also transferred “horizontally” between organisms near each other – even to other species. In other words – evolution from those we spend time with. (laughs)

Darwinian evolution is only prominent in more recent history and in more complex species. The dominant mode historically and in the present is the transfer of improvements to neighbors.

As the article observes, this overwhelming evidence was missed due to assumptions. Also, the Darwinian model does not predict how the remarkable reliability of genes could have evolved. Nor why the same code base is universal, something that would be both created and supported with horizontal transfer.

“It’s natural to wonder if the very concept of an organism in isolation is still valid at this level”

It also directly implies that evolution occurs as a result of the self-organizing potential of living systems. This, not survival of the fittest, is the dominant mode of evolution. In fact the survival mode leads to evolutionary dead-ends.

“The actual genetic code stands out like a sore thumb as being the best possible.”

As a commenter notes, it also provides a mechanism for Lamarkian evolution – passing traits on to our offspring, after birth.

This illustrates a weakness Science is prone to. The more you look into the details, the greater the tendency to forget the bigger picture. When you start simplifying rules by implying a closed system, you can forget there are no closed systems. There is no separate anything.
Davidya

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6 Responses to The Evolution of Evolution

  1. Masi says:

    I always felt that some couples living together for years start looking alike. I’ve also seen pets and owners share resemblance. Looks like research is catching up!

    It’s good to have you back, I was waiting 🙂

  2. This goes hand-in-hand with an article I read a few weeks back in TIME magazine about how choices we make can impact and alter genetics (including disease and lifespan) in our children and grandchildren (perhaps several generations).

    This includes things like smoking, periods of starvation or gluttony and so on. It’s thought to be more pronounced in males,particularly around puberty, as sperm begins to be produced at that time, whereas females are born with all the eggs they will ever have.

    Fascinating stuff!

  3. Davidya says:

    Hi Masi
    (laughs) I was just talking about that with someone yesterday. Didn’t make that connection though – good one!
    And thanks.

  4. Davidya says:

    Hi Shamballa
    Just to be clear, that suggests puberty behaviour can influence our offspring – which certainly makes sense. But that’s vertical. This article suggests our neighborhood, co-workers, microbes we carry and pick up from strangers, and so forth can influence our offspring. We’re in this together and what each of us does can have an impact on everyone around us.

    This is very different from the mechanistic worldview that developed out of early science. The body is a machine that works in relative isolation, protecting itself from invaders. God is dead. Genes are destiny and we victims of them.

    It is the difference between responsibility and empowerment vs victimhood, choice vs destiny. It’s a big change in paradigm, something a number of sciences are going through.

    Yes, fascinating stuff indeed. Thanks for the feedback and reference.

  5. Share says:

    How it seems to me during these speed of light days: whatever is written about by scientists, in magazines, reported on TV, etc. the minute it’s writ down, it’s no longer true. These are the days wherein all rules conjectures observations(maybe even this one)vanish even as they arise.

  6. Davidya says:

    Hi Share
    The key here is “it seems to me” – for you life is moving faster than mind. But yes, for many people, the shifting of paradigms is happening faster than society is reflecting yet. But the group mind is making great strides. I consider it a great sign that mainstream science is shifting to more holistic perspectives, even if there’s some struggle along the way. It reflects the kind of change that is taking place for almost everyone.

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