Chapter 3. Evo Devo Foresight: Unpredictable and Predictable Futures

The Principle of Parsimony: Occam’s Razor

Some will say “The evo devo model is not parsimonious,”, meaning that it is not based on as few assumptions as are necessary to explain universal events. They may say it assumes more about how the universe operates than is needed, unlike standard evolutionary theory.” Here I must disagree.image023

Yes, the model is more complex and constraining than standard evolutionary theory, but this additional complexity allows us to understand important things that are otherwise unexplainable, such as the regularity of accelerating change, the fine tuning problem, convergence, hierarchy, and why the universe is so homogeneous not only in lower but also in its higher hierarchies of complexity.

We now have evidence that not only living things, but stars, prebiotic chemistry, behaviors and ideas in brains, technologies and algorithms in society, and even the universe itself appear to be replicative systems, engaged in a life cycle. To a systems theorist, who sees both evolutionary and developmental features in all known replicative complex adaptive systems, it is most parsimonious to assume that the universe itself is such a system.

As living systems appear to have generated their vast adapted complexity via a long chain of evo devo replications, I find it extraordinary to claim that the universe was capable of generating its own internal adaptive complexity via any other mechanism than evo devo replication. So the question of parsimony depends on what frame we use to define simplicity, and what features of the universe we think our theories of change must minimally be able to explain.

Share your Feedback

Better Wording? References? Data? Images? Quotes? Mistakes?

Thanks for helping us make the Guide the best intro to foresight on the web.