RE: That (not so) idiot Darwin

From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Wed Jan 17 2001 - 20:41:01 MST

RE: That (not so) idiot DarwinOn Tuesday, January 16, 2001 9:33 AM J. R. Molloy wrote:
> Have you read Tom Ray's measurement of evolution and entropy?
> Evolution and Entropy
> 0000
> Does evolution lead to a decrease in entropy? In the context of the
> current study, entropy was measured as genetic diversity in an ecological
> community. This measure showed occasional sharp but transient drops in
> entropy. These drops in entropy appear to correspond to the appearance of
> highly successful new genotypes whose populations come to dominate large
> portions of the memory, pushing other genotypes out, and generating major
> extinction events.

This is an interesting notion. I'll have to think about it more.

> How are evolution and entropy related?

The views here are a bit abstract, IMHO.

> Entropy refers to dispersal of energy. Evolution refers to diversification
> of form. Both involve a time-dependent relationship between what is actual
> and what is possible.

You might note that he actually lists _Evolution as Entropy_ in the books section at

I would not define evolution in terms of diversification of form. Even a decrease in diversity is an example of evolution in action. That said, often diversity of form is what we see.

Brooks and Wiley adopt an information-theoretic view of entropy. They think entropy in terms of mass and energy are not big factors on large time scales (those under which noticeable evolutionary change normally takes place), though they definitely play a role in small time scales (such as the daily activities of organisms or ecosystems).

I tend to think they are correct. Why? Well, for one, the energy gradients in living systems are extremely small -- even on small time scales. The other is that what gets transferred in evolution seems to be information in the form of genetics and possibly some cytoplasmic stuff that is not genetic. Energy is not the stuff we pass from generation to generation or population to population. This is not to say energy plays no role. It just doesn't play a big role, especially on the time scales speciation takes place.

> See also:

This actually sounds like BS to me. First off, the universe is probably not in any meaningful sense a closed system. (The part-whole distinction seems lost on this site, but then we would getting into philosophy, which too many on this list are categorically against.) Second, there is no monolithic one "Theory of Evolution." Nor are the various theories closed to change. Third, evolution is not necessary against entropy. Brooks and Wiley contend evolution is an example of entropy -- it's an entropic process acting on partially open information systems -- genes, organisms, species, higher taxa, and ecosystems. Other thinkers who hold less controversial stands might claim that evolution might decrease order locally while increasing disorder globally. (This seems to be Prigogine's view.)

Notably, whoever puts the page together is bigtime into the Bible.


Daniel Ust

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