Re: Stephen Jay Gould and Progress
Thu, 9 Jan 1997 20:48:58 -0500 (EST) (Michael Butler) writes:

>I'm not sure of the existence of souls or demons, either. :) It seems to me
>that positing some obscure "other complexification" drive is easy;
>the more obscure you make it, the more unfalsifiable the idea is...

True. My point is that one well-documented feature (brains) shows a clear
trend to greater complexity, in the face of tough selection pressures. The
assumption apparently made by Gould (I've not read the book either) is that
since *some* features simply drift towards complexity, that complexity is
*never* a benefit. This is clearly false WRT brains. I would also suspect
it's false WRT immune systems (once evolved, they don't get lost) and plant
chemical warfare systems (just a guess there). Those two issues are indeed
harder to falsify. I've read that ecosystems also demonstrate greater
resiliency with greater complexity, although I haven't got a citation for