Re: Stephen Jay Gould and Progress

Robin Hanson (
Wed, 8 Jan 1997 20:24:42 -0800 (PST)

Damien Broderick writes:
>Indeed. When G. Boyajian and T. Lutz examined the fractal twistiness of
>ammonite sutures, often said to show increased elaboration with time, they
>found no historical bias toward complexity - and, what's more, no
>correlation between complexity and species longevity. The argument seems
>solid. It has little bearing, of course, on purely cultural change, which
>is why the Spike will be the product of memes - the `Lamarckian' units of
>human minds and passions - rather than the raw contest of genes.

The empirical study you mention only directly bears on "fractal
twistiness" of course. But the more evolutionary contexts where we
fail to find claimed local trends, the stonger the initial condition
hypothesis in all related contexts. I think this also strengthens the
suggestion that we will find similar results for memetic evolution.

Robin D. Hanson