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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Review of Stu Pivar's book Lifecode

Okay, here at last is Jerry Bergman's review of Stuart Pivar's Lifecode:

Lifecode is an attempt to deal with some of the well documented problems with Darwinism.

First, I want to stress that I firmly believe that this research should be pursued, even though I am not enthusiastic about it.

This could well be because of my genetic bias. I was trained to believe, and it appears to me that the evidence supports, the conclusion that organisms are a result of the expression of genes which make proteins. In other words, the body plan results from the genome, not some Lifecode self-organization force.

Specifically, Pivar proposes an embryogenesis based on the properties of a toroidal surface - that is, the shape of a doughnut. The surface of the doughnut, known as a torus, is an annular shape generated by revolving a circle around an axis external to the circle.

All cells and embryos assume the toroidal shape. How they respond to this initial shape determines their adult morphology. The details of how this shape guides development and morphogenesis in general were, in my opinion, not very well defended in this work. This theory may explain certain aspects of the external morphology of a life form, but how much else does it explain?

Conversely, Pivar proposes a radically new theory, of which parts may well have merit. Only time will tell. What he needs is empirical and experimental evidence.

In the meantime, the comments on Amazon and various Web sites leave me wondering why there is such an emotional and vociferous reaction to a new theory of evolution. Part of the reaction is that any theory that proposes to replace Darwinism produces a knee-jerk reaction of uncalled-for invective. This attitude hardly encourages new ideas.

It is said that almost every genius produces a few good ideas and a lot of bad ideas, and that the only way to produce breakthroughs is to think a lot outside of the box. One or two, or perhaps several, ideas may pan out.

Criticism is needed, but it must be constructive criticism that focuses on the author's thesis and his support of his thesis, not attacks on the creator of the idea.

One reason I am cautious about simply rejecting this work is the new work done by the ENCODE project, which found that evidence exists for a much greater epigenetic influence than previously believed.

My second caution is that most of the reviews have been irresponsible character assassinations of the author. Why not attack the theory instead of the author? Some critics do just this, but many seem to express only dislike. The emotional invective which appears to be orchestrated by the same people who have rallied against intelligent design. - Jerry Bergman


(By the way, Bergman is himself about to publish a book, tentatively titled The War Against Darwin Skeptics, and edited by my able compatriot Cameron Wybrow.)

Here are some other Post-D stories about Stu Pivar and/or Lifecode:

Dissing St. Stephen Jay in his own church (September 20, 2005)

Pivar to NCSE: Change the wording on the Steve statement (November 2, 2005)

(July 16, 2007)

Morpho field theory again (July 18, 2007)

Stuart Pivar suing PZ Myers? (August 22, 2007)

Flash! Pivar is unsuing PZ Myers (August 28, 2007)

Note: The Post-Darwinist hits the Reject button practically every day. If you want to be part of this process, write some vulgar diatribe attacking Stu Pivar, Jerry Berman, Cameron Wybrow, or all three.

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