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Re. Progress



...I should add to my last e-mail, before someone cottons on to the wrong
end of the stick, that each right or left stagger of the drunk in the
example corresponds to a lineage evolving towards increased or decreased
complexity *by the process of natural selection*. If lineages move as often
towards 'reduced complexity' as towards 'increased complexity' then the
idea of large scale progress in the evolution of life is seriously
compromised. Assuming for the sake of argument that this is the case (I
don't, except in the sense that null hypotheses have to be refuted before
alternatives can seriously be considered), then we might talk of lineages
'making progress' towards increased complexity, but then we should also
talk of other lineages 'making progress' towards decreased complexity. With
no overall direction, 'progress' in this sense just reduces to 'change' -
change by the process of natural selection in response to circumstance.
IMHO, change is the better word because it is neutral.

Best
Chris