Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Now there's a word that's gotten me into trouble.  Trouble is, it's means exactly what I meant to say, but not what the folks I was trying to sell my idea to wanted to hear.

The idea that I meant to convey is that living systems, including cells and organisms, are more or less indeterminate--that is, not fully determined.  What's more, the relative amount of indeterminacy maintained by a cell or organism is quantifiable in terms of statistical (informational) entropy, which can easily be computed from DNA sequence data.

But try suggesting that in a grant application reviewed by one of the many scientists who believe that indeterminacy is not really real or relevant to biology.  Hoo boy, talk about getting locked out.

Best to use a less loaded word that conveys essentially the same meaning.  Like plasticity...

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