The field of bioelectricity is very enlightening. The intro to Michael Levin’s lab states:
We work at the intersection of developmental biology, computer science, and cognitive science. Our goal is to understand degrees of intelligence at multiple scales of biological, artificial, and hybrid systems; we use these insights to develop interventions in regenerative medicine.
This discussion with Michael Levin gives more details on their operation and experiments.The genome of a multi-cellular organism specifies the ‘micro-level hardware’, (as Levin puts it), which is present in every cell but there’s nothing observed in the genome that specifies the complex forms; size, shape, locations of organs, that sort of thing.
During morphogenesis the bioelectric pattern precedes gene expression and without any alterations to the genome the manipulation of this pattern can alter form in multiple ways. The bioelectric signals control the genes.
Biologists can speculate on how it might be possible for genomic mutations and selection to produce the specified complexity of living organisms, but what bioelectricity research is revealing is that there is a collective intelligence in and between the cells of organisms that originate at a level above that of the gene.
An interesting result from working on planaria, is that they can regenerate entire organisms from each dissected piece even when cut into hundreds of individual pieces. Not only that but the newly formed organisms can retain the memory of the original individual even if the newly formed worm developed from a piece of tail. According to Levin this information is somehow imprinted in the new brain.
This looks very familiar. You have linked to this video before. We discussed this topic and I patiently explained to you that the bio-electric pattern was set up by the tissue-specific expression of ion channels and gap junctions which is ultimately under control of developmental genes. The researchers of the Levin lab manipulate those bio-electric patterns with drugs that block ion channel function, or they use genetic mutants, or they make cells overexpress ion channel and gap junction genes by transduction with a viral vector. All of this is explained in the video.
It appears you have inadvertently forgotten to mention all this. Perhaps you did not recall our previous exchange, but maybe you remember making this claim though?
Could you please explain to me how “stimulating your thinking” is consonant with never discussing the arguments supporting the competing mainstream explanations, never being able to articulate the details of your alternative explanations, never spontaneously mentioning, addressing or even remembering previous criticisms and never accommodating previous corrections?
From Jerry Coyne’s blog:
Of course, bioelectrics are nothing new. But that’s an interesting discovery.
Yes, I know we’ve discussed this before, but I thought that this research throws up so many questions that it would be good to give it its own thread.
Of course it’s obvious that suites of genes are required to produce ion channels. Previously you implied that the bioelectric fields were somehow controlled by the genes, but you didn’t go into any detail about how the genes cooperated to achieve this. In that link you also stated:
This is not correct. In organisms such as ourselves the oocyte, complete with its ion channels and all the rest are transformed into the zygote upon fertilization. There are ion channels which are also transmitted. The cell is continuously within an electric field throughout its journey towards fertilization and beyond.
And in the case of planaria it is demonstrably not true. Here it becomes much more interesting. According to Levin, planaria largely reproduce by fission followed by regeneration. This means that they escape the Weismann barrier. Somatic mutations are propagated through the generations. They acquire mutations over time resulting in very messy genomes. They are mixoploid, which means that not all of their cells have the same genome. And so despite hundreds of millions of years gathering mutations they show 100% anatomical fidelity. There is a paradox in that their morphology is extremely stable while their genomes are anything but stable.
In the article “First complete genome assembly of planarian flatworm reveals treasure trove on the function and evolution of genes”, they say:
They are hoping that this research will give them some answers, but if it doesn’t make things any clearer, it has certainly thrown up many interesting questions.
Perhaps much of what you see as corrections, I see as faulty reasoning. For example your above implication that it is only bare DNA that gets transmitted from parent to offspring.
Here are some more thoughts from the video to mull over.
There is a difficulty with existing paradigm in which gene networks produce proteins which stick together giving rise to specified form. At most this will give rise to a teratoma. As Levin says, “It’s not enough to have the building blocks, you have to specify how they get together. To build functional tissue and organs the organism needs to know which genes to tweak. This is extremely difficult to unravel and according to Levin, it is what’s holding back modern medicine.
When they jumbled up the facial features of a frog in early development, the creature still managed to develop into a frog with a relatively normal face. This indicates that it is the final pattern of the face that determines the path the cells take no matter how novel a path they take. It’s all very well to say that this is laid down in the genes, but what actual evidence does anyone have for making such a claim? Levin claims to be witnessing collective intelligence. Gene expression and cellular movements are controlled by the dynamic electric fields. If the organism is likened to an orchestral performance, the genes are responsible for producing the materials from which the instruments are made. And I believe the electric field can be compared to the combination of sounds which we enjoy as music.
The genes make it possible to build the various tissues, and the overarching formative fields give shape to those tissues. This makes the difference between a teratoma and a functional organism.
Yes, very interesting. I wonder how our beneficial bacteria will cope with such antibiotics. And how long before some form of extra-super bacterium will find a way round the problem presented to it. We should never underestimate bacteria, and life in general for persistence in the face of threats of destruction.
Yes, that is what you said last time:
So, I suppose I will have to reply again with:
and then you can riposte again:
I am spotting a groundhog here. Do you understand what I meant when I said that you are “never spontaneously mentioning, addressing or even remembering previous criticisms”?
This is indubitably true, but this also happens in the occasional cases that you do concede that a correction was valid:
However, there is nothing in your OP that betrays that you accomodated this rectification. Instead, you boldly claim:
In the context of how the people at the Levin lab performed these experiments and in the knowledge that “it’s obvious that suites of genes are required to produce ion channels” the statements above are highly misleading.
My bad, I should have linked to the Lancet article. So here it is:
Let’s see if we can outdo the “ChatGPT narrates TSZ” thread. 🙂
I believe DNA to the source of the information which gets transmitted and is used to produce a consistency of material and tissues down through the generations? But that is not all that is transferred. Surely you agree that whole cells are transmitted from parent to offspring? Within this process DNA is a very necessary and important component, but, let me stress, a component that can do nothing in isolation.
The point is that the continuation of the generations and inheritance requires a coordinated system of transmission requiring at minimum whole cells. To believe that new bodies can be constructed from DNA alone is like thinking all that is necessary to construct machines are isolated hands floating in space.
Your serve. 🙂
I am by no means a biologist, and I don’t understand what you’re saying here. Yes, sperm and egg are cells. And those cells contain the complete instruction set for growing a new individual. Sure, to build something you need more than an instruction set, you need raw materials. You know, things like iron and calcium and carbon and hydrogen and oxygen and nitrogen and phosphorus and various trace elements. As I understand it, the DNA directly and indirectly uses these elements to construct various sorts of cells. The cells themselves contain the instructions to replicate and grow. A biologist could tell me a lot more, of course.
But it has never been my understanding that the way the sperm and egg combine to start the development process, is to actually hijack fully formed adult cells wholesale from the mother as the building materials. Aren’t there supposed to be stem cells involved?
I don’t see why it’s misleading. Levin compares the genome to a computer’s hardware, and the bioelectric activity to the software. Using the same hardware (genome) the software (bioelectric fields) can arrange the material to create form, and it can do so using alternative pathways if required.
In some experiments they use mutations to disrupt the normal course of development and then, using drugs, they can open or close specific ion channels mimicking the effects of bioelectric fields. Through this technique they can manipulate form and obtain results such as producing two-headed planaria or positioning functional eyes in the tails of fish. The form building isn’t achieved by disrupting the genome, it is achieved by careful manipulation of ion channels.
Thanks. I’ll read it later.
I’m not saying any other cells are highjacked. The fertilized egg is a whole cell and it was a whole cell before fertilization. This whole functional cell is as basic and simple as we have been since our conception. What gets transferred from our mothers (and fathers) is not bare DNA, it is a functioning cell.
If you understand what Levin is saying, the DNA is not a complete instruction set in how to form an organism. It is the means by which bodily tissues and structures can be built. But without the creative bio-electrics no more that a teratoma like object that has no intrinsic form.
The DNA on its own can do nothing. The cellular system as a whole is the functional unit.
For the love of God, let’s not.
You have side-stepped my question. Still, I think it would be good for you to ponder why, with all this stimulating your thinking going on, your contributions are on repeat. Hopefully it “throws up many questions”.
I am not sure what is the point of this comment TBH. It doesn’t describe my position, because I don’t believe that organismal development requires only DNA and it doesn’t describe your position either, because all the nonsense about formative fields and archetypes is lacking. Apart from that, it’s pretty inoffensive. So what were you trying to accomplish here?
No, I suppose you really don´t. To the unwary onlooker that paragraph strongly suggests that the setting up of the bio-electric pattern is itself not dependent on gene expression and that bioelectric signals control all gene expression during development. Both of these suggestions are false. I take it that you agree?
In a nice bit of serendipitous timing I have just read an article by Sally Adee in the 25 Feb 2023 edition of New Scientist.
When she says, “genes coding for specifics such as height”, Adee may be giving the impression that everything has been solved in our understanding of causal chains between genes and height. This is far from the case. From this article
(*Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits Consortium)
These are genes that are linked to height. This doesn’t clarify how these genes are activated or silenced within the complexities of human growth. There is no mention of the part bioelectrics plays in the process. .
Continuing with Agee’s article, we are informed that as the embryo develops the stem cells assumed various resting potentials depending on which specialized cells they are destined to become.
And of course all cells have ion channels, including sperm and eggs. From pubmed
Fertilization is not just a simple shuffling of DNA. An electrically active sperm head combines with an electrically active egg to produce an electrically active zygote. And we know that electrical activity affects genome activity. So why assume that, in the production and maintenance of complex adults such as we are, the creativity resides in the genome. Bioelectric activity is a prominent feature throughout gamete production, conception, growth and development.
I’m counting on you not letting that happen. 😉 I don’t think I measure up to the stamina they are showing over there. 🙂
I understand what you are saying. But there’s not much I can do if answers I give are not to your satisfaction.
Why do you dismiss as nonsense, without question, any talk of formative fields?
In my opinion the dynamic bioelectric field are the measurable effects of non-perceived formative fields that are at root in creating form. Physical organisms are the result of the polarity of peripheral field forces and material growth originating in genetic activity. The former provides the structural form and the latter provides the structural material.
There is no point in the origin and development of any organism where either bioelectrical activity or genetic activity is absent. They are both continuously present. Up to recent times the orthodox view has expended all its energy in trying to prove that creativity comes from within the genome and it has ignored any suggestion of it originating from any other direction.
In my opinion it is one-sided in that it has disregarded the fundamental polarity of nature. And your remarks are an example of this. In your opinion the fields have their source in the genome, no question. Do you ever question the belief that the DNA contains all the information needed to create an organism?
Heh, I don’t think you understand what I am saying. Perhaps this will help: When you said that “this research throws up so many questions”, did you mean that YOU now have many questions? If so, I have a very hard time finding them.
I don´t dismiss them without question. In fact, I asked many questions about them last time we discussed formative fields but the answers you gave me were not to my satisfaction.
Yeah, I distinctly remember repeatedly asking: “please explain how the formative fields set up the correct species-specific bio-electric pattern in an embryo.” You mumbled something non-specific about attractors governing bioelectric fields. Sadly, that explanation ignores the role of ion channels and gap junctions, which remain inconveniently physical entities. How do the non-physical (?) formative fields nudge the ion channels in the correct positions, I wonder?
Do you understand what I meant when I said that you never discuss the arguments supporting the competing mainstream explanations and are never able to articulate the details of your alternative explanations?
I am pretty sure that I have never claimed something vague like “DNA contains all the information needed to create an organism”. Also, I am positive that I never expended energy “trying to prove that creativity comes from within the genome ” because I have absolutely no idea what that even means.
If you want to knock over any more straw men then be my guest, but it is rather silly when you accuse them of being one-sided in their opinions.
The review, Bioelectric signaling coordinating patterning decisions during embryologists concludes:
Regarding directing cell behaviour, we should remember what Levin said in the video: “The bioelectric pattern…shows up before the genes are turned on to regionalize the face.”
Dynamic bioelectric patterning is observed at many levels, from cells, to tissues, to organisms.
Wow, that throws up so many questions for those with a “formative fields”-centric view, like for example: “I wonder where all of the ion pumps and ion channels come from that set up the bioelectric pattern when no genes have been turned on yet” and “Could it be that Michael Levin didn’t mean all genes but just those involved in craniofacial development and that a lot of regulated gene expression has already taken place?” and “Why aren’t formative fields mentioned at all in his talk and papers? Doesn’t he like formative fields?” and “Omygosh. What if formative fields aren’t required at all during development? “
It should throw up many questions to you, me and everyone who thinks about these things. Think about the ‘law’ which states that life comes from life, what grounds do have for criticizing this? Or that the lowest form of a reproducing, living entity is the cell equipped with all of its functioning components, semi-permeable membranes, channels, pumps, DNA replicating systems, molecular ‘motors’, organelles and the rest. What criticisms or questions about this do you have? To me this opens up a multitude of questions I would like to find answers to. And the genome provides only a very limited set of answers.
What about Michael Levin’s research on the formative nature of bioelectric fields? Do you regard this as nonsense?
Levin has demonstrated how bioelectric fields direct the facial features of a frog at the level of the organism. It is proposed that the features of an individual cell are directed in a similar manner at the cellular level. Fertilized eggs come into being with ion channels already in place. There are continuous adjustments to the potential differences across membranes taking place as the zygote is formed. And during cell division all the coordinated activity required in this fission of the cell involves processes which control the activation of appropriate genes.
If you try to understand what Goethe was saying when he explained that he could actually perceive the archetype, then you might have a better understanding of my position.
If not in the DNA then where does the information come from that can turn the single-celled zygote into and multicellular human or frog, considering the same genome is copied with great fidelity in all the somatic cells? The orchestration of the development of an organism is controlled at a level above that of the genome.
It should indeed. But something tells me that instead you imagine Levin’s work to be particularly problematic for other people:
However, it pleases me to learn that you have changed your mind since then:
Capital. Why don’t you share a few of them here?
Please also share those “answers” so we can examine them for soundness.
That seems solid research to me. Let me also applaud you for looking into that review paper. I appreciate that you are willing to look beyond the world of youtube vids.
However, neither the Levin video nor the Trends review makes any mention of formative fields, archetypes or the etheric life principle. These I regard as nonsense.
You appear to have left out formative fields from your explanation of how formative fields set up the correct species-specific bio-electric pattern in an embryo. How embarrassing!
In my understanding, your archetype is an ideal structure of which various physical representatives can manifest in the world. You often compare this to the ideal triangle of which all physical triangles are representatives. Goethe named the archetype of all greeny stuff the Urpflanze and took all plants to be reprentatives of it, but you have adopted an embellished version where archetypes are hierarchically nested, so we get a Polytrichum archetype within a bryophyte archetype within a plant archetype within a eukaryote archetype andsoforth. Very creative.
I do not know what Goethe meant when he said that he could perceive the archetype, but my guess is that the epiphany of discovering homologous structures in plants gave him the impression he was looking at some unifying principle.
That information is in the single-celled zygote, silly. Where else? If you want a more specific answer, I need a more precise definition of “information”.
Also, it is a bit sad to learn that you still have not picked up on the role of gene regulation during development, after having been lectured on it by nearly everyone with some biological training commenting at TSZ.
Yes, gene expression is marvellously coordinated. Genes are tightly regulated, but what is doing the regulating?
There are questions such as Levin himself brings up. For instance, when regrowing limbs that have been amputated at various points along their length, how does the organism decide the point at which regeneration should stop?
What controls the patterns of gene expression in individual cells to achieve higher level forms? I have previously mentioned Levin’s observations of kidney tubule formation using cells which are larger than normal.
Levin speaks about top down, goal directed, collective intelligence. In what way is this idea compatible with genes being the source of the creation of form?
And from an article I have quoted above I’ll repeat some of what was written:
That’s enough questions for the moment
We know how DNA gets transcribed and translated in order to produce polypeptides and proteins.
We know that the regulation of these processes from above can determine the paths taken in tissue and organ formation.
In the case with machines such as computers, it takes a lot of coordination and planning to build and operate them, but the whole process can be disrupted by the flick of one switch. It is the same with organism development. As Michael Behe has always stressed, it is much easier to break something than to build it.
What is the bioelectric field observed in the facial formation of a frog, if not a formative field?
As far as I understand him, Levin believes in the orthodox, materialistic view of evolution. But his research does highlight the polarity in evidence between fields and matter.
There are many people who claim to be able to perceive formative fields directly. I do not make such a claim. But as in the case of producing patterns of iron filings in a magnetic field, I believe that the images of bioelectric fields are the perceptible results of more subtle, underlying formative fields.
Goethe discovered the essential nature in all plants, and it consisted of a process of expansions and contractions which individual plants demonstrated in their own unique ways. This was what he saw as unity in multiplicity. It is through this unifying principle that we recognize all life forms as belonging within specific groups. What I see in front of me as a rose bush is a reality which is is very restricted. My rational mind allows me to ‘see’ the rose in a much more real sense. It is a dynamic, ongoing process of various expansions and contractions from seed to fruit and back to seed again. The life force is concentrated in the seed, less so in the shoots, and all but spent in the petals and fruit, and concentrated again in the new seed.
The information required to produce proteins is in the DNA, the information that directs the cell to undergo various contortions lies in the bioelectric field of the cell.
I agree that, sure enough, genes are regulated during development. But to repeat my question: what does the regulating?
Uh, the genes? My hopelessly uninformed understanding is that there are genes that code for proteins, and genes that code for regulating other genes. That during development genes have “switches” that must turn on and off at very specific times – and that serious deformities occur when this timing is wrong. The control genes are the ones that throw the switches (or actually, as I recall, code for messenger RNA to tell other genes what to do and when.
I’m sure an actual biologist can provide detail and necessary corrections to this picture, but I’d be very surprised to learn that regulatory genes are themselves somehow controlled by smart magnetic fields or whatever.
Let me start with this, as this interests me most:
Do I understand correctly that you claim that the bioelectric “field”, which is a simply a pattern in the resting potential of embryonic frog cells which was visualized by voltage-sensitive fluorescent dyes is the same thing as a formative field, which I understand to be an aspect of the (non-material) etheric “body” and which you previously claimed to not be amenable to the senses?
These are good questions for sure. But I notice that none of your questions include formative fields, or archetypes or group souls or the etheric life principle, or the peripheral field force or any of the other spiritual concepts you are so passionate about. Why are these missing from your questions? Don’t you want to find out more about them?
Well, that is simply wrong. The image of the “electric face” is a visualization of the distribution of resting potential among embryonic cells. This pattern is the result of the regulated movement of charged molecules, like potassium ions and such by ion channels. That is why the people of the Levin group are able to manipulate those patterns with channel blocking drugs or by overexpressing genes coding for those channels. These are all known physical processes, so there is no need to invoke invisible fields.
Yes, well. I see things a little differently but I do try to get a correct understanding of your position. I hope one day you will return the favour.
Heh, I believe understanding is dawning. Tell me. Which cell do you believe to undergo “various contortions”?
Haha, I see what you did there. I also enjoy how Michael Levin refers to his research as an “exciting field”.
For a holist, Charlie spends an excessive amount of time obsessing about what part of the embryo controls what other part.
By now I think you’ve interacted with Charlie enough to understand why his grasp of biological processes doesn’t seem to improve.
I have emphasized the fact that it is not just DNA that passes from mother to offspring. A maternal transcriptome is an essential presence in the zygote.
So in relation to the development of an individual, what is found to be upstream of any activation of the zygote’s DNA transcription and translation? We find that maternal transcription factors are already at work.
A zygote is a complete, active cell with membranes, cytoplasm, organelles, and an ability to self replicate, before it’s own genome is fully utilized.
It is not just a pattern in the resting potential of these cells. It is a dynamic movement of intracellular and intercellular potential differences. The dynamic electric field is present whether or no the dye is there to make it visible. Ions are invisible and their presence is known only from their effects. But what is an ion? Is it a particle, a field, both, neither?
These questions were asked in the hope of finding some common ground. A typical answer I get when I include those topics you listed, is, “nonsense”. So I didn’t feel the need to ask.
Why do you insist that they are resting potentials? Invisible fields are a fact of life. We are all constantly surrounded by, and living within invisible fields.
If you could expand on how you see things I might be able to understand your position a little better. What are the differences in the way you see things?
For example, any cell undergoing mitosis.
What did I do? I’m being serious. His lab’s work on bioelectric fields does bring into play a neglected area of research. As you say it is an “exciting field”. 🙂
I’m not sure you quite understand what a holistic position entails.
It has everything to do with the relationship of parts. Obviously this cannot be done without studying the parts in detail.
I’m here to learn. 🙂 And all of you who contribute to threads I post force me into learning. Would I have looked so closely into the work of people like Michael Levin had it not been for my participation here? Probably not.
If you don’t directly teach me that much, at least you are giving me the inspiration to learn. So all I can say is keep up the good work. 🙂
So you do consider the bioelectric pattern that makes up the “electric face” to be a formative field! But in that case formative fields are physical phenomena that can be visualized and measured, right?
You were trying to find common ground in the questions you would like to find answers to? That is a bit peculiar.
To be honest, I suspected that you hadn’t been posing any challenging questions to yourself and figured that probably you are thinking real hard as you are reading this to come up with some. Am I right or am I being too cynical here? 😉
Because I looked up the original publication associated with the “electric face” and that is what the authors say it is: , the resting membrane voltage or resting potential. The brighter areas in the video of the frog embryo are hyperpolarized (more negative): check the legend in the video*.
And the reason we know this is because we can measure them and figured out their causes a long time ago. Likewise, we know that patterns in bioelectric fields are the result of the coordinated expression of genes coding for ion channels and gap junctions. This is a known biological phenomenon entirely lacking involvement of archetypes and group souls.
That is wrong as well. The bioelectric “field” of a cell is not directly involved in the decision to start mitosis.
ETA: woops, in the video it is the other way round.
Fair enough, but I still think you worry too much about what part is in control. Bet you can’t show me a naked formative field.
How thoughtful of you to ask. For starters, I am perfectly happy to grant an indispensible role for proteins, RNA, ions and other non-DNA molecules in development. So in this respect, I am with you. However, what you need to understand is that the priviliged position of the genome in developmental and evolutionary biology is because of its central position in explaining differences within and between species. That is, most of the heritable variation within and between species can be usefully thought of as originating in allelic variation and it therefore occupies a central role in many models that are succesfully used in medicine, agriculture and biology. Consider for example the use of genome wide association studies (GWAS) in identifying genomic variants that are associated with disease risk. DNA has earned its central role because of pragmatism, not materialism.
This is also how I approach novel ideas: are they likely to teach us something we do not already know? Theories or models that are highly successful in this feat I consider more likely to be approximations of reality. The ideas that you advance here do not meet that bar, hence my dismissal.
There are several factors at play here, I think. But I’ll admit it can be rather frustating: as opposed to certain unnamed parties commenting here, Charlie is a reasonably bright guy who clearly enjoys reading; He just doesn’t absorb the stuff he doesn’t like.
Yes, electromagnetic fields are classed as physical and they have physical effects which can be measured. But you have jumped from, “some fields are physical, therefore all fields are physical”
Why? I’m sure we both agree that the development of multicellular organisms is a very complicated affair. In asking about the origin of this development, I was hoping that you might agree that the starting point of this process does not originate in DNA. And indeed you have implied that you agree with this assessment here.
Along with those posed from others, I ask myself challenging questions all the time. And they normally set me off in search of explanations. This can lead me down some tangents which sidetracks me and I quite often have difficulty getting back on track. But I enjoy picking up info along the way. .
Of course you are correct about resting potentials notwithstanding polarity. The dynamism is present in the migration of cells. And that brings up a question. I ask myself about resting potential and how it is maintained. When the cell is stationary, surely there will be a constant flow of ions to maintain balance? And as the cell moves through its environment won’t it need to make adjustments to ion flow as the environment changes? Or does the extracellular environment change that much? These are the sorts of questions that go through my mind.
And on picking up on my lack of clarity about resting potentials you have helped me in slowly gaining a better understanding of these processes.
You mention coordinated genetic activity. This brings up another question. In what way are they coordinated? That lead me to this article which I will need to look at as it deals with the fate of cells in development.
And how do you know that intracellular bioelectric fields are not involved?
I’ll never get anything done with all these questions popping up in my mind. 🙂
It makes no difference to your point, which was valid.
Bet you can’t show me a naked electromagnetic field. Bet you can’t show a hagfish a glorious sunset. That isn’t possible because the hagfish isn’t equipped with the necessary sense organs. The sunset is perceptible to those who have suitable sense organs.
No, I jumped from “formative fields are physical” to “formative fields are physical”. It wasn’t a very big leap. You are on record saying that formative fields are etheric fields that are not not sense perceptible. This claim you are now contradicting.
Don’t pull a Nonlin on me, Charlie.
Sure, you can put the starting point anywhere you deem most useful. Sometimes that involves gene expression, sometimes it does not.
LOL. It just takes a while before you are ready to share them. Could you, out of the multitude of questions you would like to find answers to, finally list a few that are relevant to your spiritual beliefs?
If you like that, you can find a more recent review from Michael Levin here, in Cell no less. It’s quite accessible.
Because, owing to its relevance for cancer research, cell cycle control is extremely well researched and as far as I am aware bioelectric fields do not play a large role in it.
But who is in control of the sunset? Is it the earth and the sun or the magical sunset field? Don’t dismiss it! How do you know sunset fields are not involved?
ETA: some clarification
DNA has a privileged position because modern scientists have given it that position. It has been placed on a pedestal. Richard Dawkins has done more than most to encourage this reverence of DNA. There are plenty other biologists who think it is a mistake to allot such a privileged position to DNA.
Back in 2021, Kantian Naturalist provided links to people and works he recommended for anyone interested in self-organizing systems.
Following his recommendations I looked into what Robert Rosen had to say. He stressed how unsuitable modern physics is unsuitable for the scientific investigation of biology.
I think that is a good line of argument to follow. Johannes Jaeger gave a talk on various evolutionary perspectives that depart from the mechanistic thinking that concentrates on the interaction of ‘things’. He gives a basic explanation of theories such as process structuralism and developmental systems theory.
In the talk he mentions James Griesemer, who believes there should be a comparative analysis whereby proponents of alternative theories should get together to discuss each other’s, “strengths, weaknesses and complementarities”, instead of the usual confrontational approach usually taken. I wish there was more of this comparative analysis.
There is hope for us all, as long as we keep talking. 🙂
The subject matter in “The Selfish Gene” was greatly inspired by the work of Bill Hamilton who developed the mathematical framework for inclusive fitness theory. His models strongly emphasized the importance of genetic relatedness in explaining certain cases of altruism and social behaviour in nature. Again, it is the explanatory power that has won biologists over. If you dislike that, then develop better models.
Yeah, KN provided some good book tips. I liked reading Peter Godfrey-Smith’s “Metazoa”.
And I can see why these theories appeal to you. However, once again you are prodding me to read about stuff you find congenial. Since the “Body, Soul and Spirit” thread I am trying to get you to examine some of your own convictions. What weaknesses do you see in those theories you embrace? What arguments do people have for rejecting them? Can you reproduce those arguments in a way that your opponents would accept as a faithful depiction*? If you do not take criticisms seriously then you cannot learn from them.
* which “reverence of DNA” is NOT
Only if we are listening as well.
I watched the video of a talk given by Peter Nonacs – UCLA. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Below is the accompanying intro:
I don’t think he makes any arguments against the standard account of the role of genes in general, but he does make many points worth thinking about. For instance he points out areas in which Hamilton’s rule is inappropriate.
1. Accounting for indirect effects – Simplified models do not take account of extra factors which are important.
2. Non-linearity and synergisms -Living processes very rarely consist of straight forward causal relationships.
3. Points of view – Judging fitness depends on the perspective of individual agent under consideration.
I don’t think that the relationship between traits and genes is given enough attention. It seems to me that biologists take it for granted that individual traits can be directly related to genes, and I believe this is a mistake.
If I had time I would say more about Nonacs’ talk, but I suppose, even if I do find it interesting, it is off topic.
LOL. Charlie, did anyone ever tell you that you have phenomenal google skills? Here, let me try that too:
I read a thought provoking piece by Jennifer Sapio, who works as a teacher and a writer:
“Waldorf Schools Are Inherently Racist Cults”
Well, I guess she “does make many points worth thinking about.”.
These are definitely “some thoughts to mull over”.
That certainly “throws up quite a few questions”.
Talking of questions. Would you finally be so good to, out of “the multitude of questions you would like to find answers to”, list a few that are relevant to the Steinerian ideas you are promulgating here? Or am I right in presuming that you never ever have asked yourself a single challenging question concerning those spiritual beliefs?
I’ve only had brief, direct contact with one Waldorf school and that was in the UK, so I have only Jennifer Sapio’s account of the school she taught at. Like all schools, there are some worse than others. If the aim of the school deviated from nurturing pupils so that they develop into free-thinking, tolerant, unprejudiced adults who are able to follow their own paths, then I would not condone its methods or even its existence.
I’ve read a fair few articles critical of Steiner and anthroposophy which raise many questions. This one for instance by the Jewish scholar, Israel Koren. He gives an account of Steiner’s racism which is well researched and virtually beyond dispute.
All I can say in Steiner’s defense is that he has always tried to promote individualism against any form of nationalism or exclusive racial/folk affinities.
According to Steiner, evolution is a path out of cultural/national/folk ties towards the “universal human”.
As usual, your missing the point. I do not question that you are a decent guy. Instead, I was holding up a mirror to you and your discussion style; In response to me mentioning Bill Hamilton (one of the most celebrated evolutionary theorists of all time) as an example of somebody putting models with a gene perspective to good use, you return with a disparaging youtube video by some maverick. That’s not “stimulating your thinking” but just flinging poo. And you do this all of the time. As soon as somebody mentions some idea you don’t like, instead of trying to gain a better understanding, you swiftly google your way to somebody criticizing it, preferably somebody with some anthroposophical leanings.
But you never endorsed Steiner’s racist views, so that is a bit of an easy concession, innit? How about questioning some Steinerian ideas that you do get behind? I have lost count, but this must be either the fifth or the sixth time I am asking.
No need to come to Steiner’s defense: To be perfectly honest, judging from the stuff you made me read I have come to think of him as a bit of a d*ck, so the racism goes perfectly well with that. I just can’t fathom what some bright bloke like you sees in him.