Lucy in Newsweek

Fri Apr 2 23:48:01 CST 2004

In a message dated 4/2/2004 8:22:20 PM Pacific Standard Time,
jcclark at CSUPOMONA.EDU writes:

> Whether genes are selfish or not, the soma has no other general-purpose way
> to transfer information to the next generation. For genes to have
> independent histories from their organisms would require that they operate
> independently.

Ken made the same point, which I agree has real merit. However, I did make
some comment in response. Let me add to your comments that conserved segment of
DNA are thought to "operate independently." That is why they are thought to be
more reliable than morphological characters.

> And there is
> no more a priori reason to assume that DNA sequences are misleading than
> there is to assume that morphology is misleading. The proof has to be in
> the analysis.

Let me make it clear that I have never believed that morphological data could
not be misleading. My position is that molecular data isn't any better -
unless, of course, there is some law of evolution that we know a priori that says
it is. I'm an old NT guy who believes that it's taxonomy that informs us about
evolution and not the other way around, so I wouldn't take sides on
morphology or molecules. You are correct, the proof is in the pudding, and when
molecular results become stabilized I'll agree that it's better - of course, the
Phylocode will not be necessary and Ken will be out of business.

Seriously, thank you for your thoughts,


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