Is there a scientific alternative to Darwinism? Yes, it is fractal - a conversation starter

The above top might be of interest to fictional futuristic scenarios, but, I believe the conversation starter: scientifically-guided thought experiment if you like, has significant relevance to real futuristic life as well.

Hi, my name is MariaBrigit and I have just become a member of fractal future, but have taken an interest in the site and the community prior to this. Thanks for having me. I am a frustrated fractal futurist (non-fiction) and would really like to share my discoveries and start a conversation about evolution by fractal means. I have done a great deal of research into scientific alternatives to the Darwinian view of evolution. It is a long story of how I began researching this particular topic (my PhD is in archaeology - and I am a professional researcher), but, in a nut-shell: The conversation starter is as follows:

As seemingly, everything is scale dependent in Nature (following scaling laws/power laws and are predictable at every scale, (fractal - self-similar whole systems), it could be described as following a nested scales of complexity principle: akin to the Matryoshka concept of Russian Nested Dolls, then, we can extrapolate this back in time to figure out how evolution really unfolded and project it into the future to see where we might be going as a species as well,

I couldn’t find a suitable topic on this forum, although, I did like the philosophical one, and maybe it belongs there, but I am passionate about all of these discoveries and feel a real need to share them with people who also think fractally. I hope this will be an interesting conversation starter for some on this forum and to fill in the detail of these discoveries, you might want to visit the following blog/site

Thanks for reading


Welcome to the FractalFutureForum, MariaBrigit! :slight_smile:

I’ve just read the starting page of the site you linked. It’s a fascinating read. If those alternative viewpoints are supported, then that would mean that epigenetics plays a far greater role than I had assumed. Kinda makes me wonder how genetic mutation and epigenetic adaptation really interact with each other and drive evolution. Things often turn out to be more complicated or complex than we would have ever imagined in many sciences, and biology doesn’t seem to be an exception.

And I wonder whether new discoveries about epigenetics could have medical applications. We still don’t have a lot of functioning gene therapies, so would “epigenetic therapies” be an interesting alternative to those?


Welcome to fractal future, MariaBrigit.

Epigenetics is truly a fascinating field which only in its infacancy yet, and I’m certain that these research will lead us to some fascinating discoveries in the future.

However, I do not believe that evolutionary theories based on epigetic inheritance will come to constitute an “alternative” to darwinism, as you seem to be suggesting, but that they will provide a complement to it, eventually being integrated in the modern evolutionary synthesis (neo-darwinism), just as mutation-based theories were in the past.

I understand that it can be mind-blowing to see that Lamarck was not totally wrong after all, but that still doesn’t justify a full blown turn to neo-lamarckism.

Natural selection is still the most likely process to be the main driving force of evolution. It has been observed numerous times and we have been applying those same principles ourselves since the neolithic (artificial selection). It still seems solid as rock as of right now.

Anyway, maybe we don’t really need a single “driving force” behind evolution. Maybe this is fractal process as you suggest (fascinating idea) and diferent mechanisms come into play in different levels.

As I said, epigenetics is still a nascent field, if scientists do find proof that epigenetic inheritance has evolutinary significance, you may actually have occam’s razor on your side.

Actually, we already have many things like that in the present. Many approaches to trating genetic diseases actually involve tampering with translation (turning genes on and of, the same thing epigenetic mechanisms do) instead of trying to change DNA. It’s simpler and easier, but would require constant medication and may not be as effective.


Hello, Michael, thanks for welcome and positive response to my conversation
starter. The science to substantiate the major implications of epigenetics
is very solid. All I have done is to bring these, otherwise: disperate
science papers spread accross diverse discipline together and hopefull,
made sense of them all by finding the common threads and overarching
principle behind them (fractal/scaling laws).

I was particularly interested in your contemplation of the implications of
epigenetics for health and medicine. And considering the ethos of this
forum, (positive future solution) I am delighted to say that: you would not
believe the magnatude of epigenetic applications/therapies to medicine;
some have even gotten FDA approval - for cancer treatments. See links to
science papers

All in all, regarding the question you raised about medical/health
implications, the principle is that epigenetic effects are the trigger
(very few cancers are genetically determined and epigenetics switches genes
on and off or work like a dimmer switch to chemically express or not
express the genes or whole sequences), as epigenetics factors
(environmentally-caused in the cellular context) are reversable, it is a
matter of reversing the programming (faulty - not genetic mutations - this
is truly not how species change, nor, does the gene-centric view provide
answers to our future health and welbeing) epigenetically (usually via
biochemical applications).

To substantiate what I am saying: again, if others who are interested in
this topic might like to visit the website front page: which you took the time to view (much
appreciated). You or others might also like to watch a brief overview of
epigenetics via youtube or my website to give you an intertaining and
hopefully informative idea of the epigenetic implications for both
evolutionary processes and medicine etc.It is entitled: The Epigenetic
Antidote to the Selfish Gene.
Direct link to youtube:

Plus, in response to your idea that epigenetics may play a role along with
selection, epigenetics is not the whole story, but Nature has an
evolutionary wild card: Jumping Genes - more of this detail and why it is
Natural Genetic Engineering that is a much better explanation than Natural
Selection: (Lots on my website about this - but if you look up James A
Shapiro, in relation to NGE - alternative, you get an idea where the
science is going on that one).

In addition to this, there is a free kindle book of evolutionary quotes
(you need a Kindle or an app Kindle reader) is attached.I hope it is the
most uptodate one. The quotes might amuse you or anyone interested and the
title of the book is: But Old Mr. Darwin wasn’t to Blame. This is also
available in other formats at my blog.

I am so glad that you have responded by joining me in a good conversation.
It is not about being right or wrong, but simply having that conversation
and being willing to open our minds up to the possibilities that are
grounded in sound science.

Kindest Regards


Just a little question: Are there mechanisms by which epigenetics, or any other causes except for mutation, can change the DNA code itself? From my point of view, this would be the missing link that would finally strengthen the Lamarckian interpretation of Evolution a lot.

Oh, and an important comment: The more we increase our understanding of human biology and our technology to change it, the more will we shift to the Lamarckian mode of evolution by adapting our genetic and epigenetic makeups to the environments we created. This would be a co-evolution of us and the environments we will create.

Helo again, yes, not only is epigenetic expression of the existing genes a means of changing things, without changing the code (sequence), but as I mentioned above, Nature appears to have a wild card (not necessarily used too much these days - but certainly in the evolutionary past), but Natural Genetic Engineering as James A Shapiro describes is the ability for jumping genes (Barbara McClintock’s research) or transposible elements (TEs) to actually remodel the genome itself, via cutting, pasting, and generally remodelling the species itself in the process. Epigenetics appears to release its control (occasionally) when needs are greatest (stressers in the environment) and let these viral-like elements remodel and adapt dramatically and radically according to and in response to extreme conditions. Thus, your comment about co-evolution and evolving according to adaptive needs is the missing link indeed. People may be wondering about the fractal nature of all of this and that is where we have to understand that everything in Nature follows rules of balance, proportion, according to resources, space saving, efficiency of metabolic regulation in relation to the environment etc, and Nature seems therefore to use the fractal system to achieve this phenomenal efficiency. That is seemingly, why everything adapts, or has adapted in a meaningful way atune with its environment. This principle embedded in Nature essentially relates to a great Scottish scientist:: D’Arcy Thompson. Again look him up on my for the fuller context of his ideas and application to biological complexity. His ideas are finding great support (fractal systems and scaling laws) via a number of collaborative studies between physicists and biologists. Geoffrey West is a key player in this and again, anyone interested in this can do a search on the internet on his work or visit
It’s co-evolution at every level and at every scale and everything seems to be a whole system and increases in complexity, filling out the detail thereafter, thus: this may sound simple (it is, but our minds find it difficult with out current paradigm); it may even sound similar to what we already understand, but it is actually a fundamentally distinct way of thinking and when you start to apply it - it’s mindblowing. Thinking fractally is great once we get used to it - but it does hurt the head after a while. But I’ll keep trying, because the result of thinking this way and the answers that come our amazing. Interestingly, they are often solutions that you might not even have believed possible or even thought of thinking of when thinking in the more normal linear way.

Kindest Regards


I just found a really good article on this subject:

It pretty much illustrates my own views. Recent developments have pretty much proven that epigenetic mechanisms are relevant to inheritance, but there is not nearly enough evidence for us to consider them more relevant than genetics when it comes to evolution.

As the author of the article said, epigenetics depends on having the right genetics. There must be a genetic code so that the environment can influence the way it is expressed.

Quite honestly, Maria, I think you are trying to forge a paradigm-shift far too soon and with far little evidence. As I said before, modern evolutionary synthesis is still solid as rock as of right now, and updating it to consider epigenetics seems to be a much more reasonable course of action than a return to lamarckism.

Personally, I find it a lot easier to consider epigenetics as tool used by our selfish genes to ensure the survival of their vehicle (and therefore their own survival).

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Respectfully, Joao, I really take onboard what you are saying and at least we are having a level-headed conversation - this is quite refreshing and it is not about agreeing, but about discussing the possibilities, which I think we are doing - Thanks for that. There is a great deal of science to support the position I have come to understand via my research and rather than listing copious quantities of articles to support my: enthusiastic position, but I don’t believe it is premature or overly so, I have listed the chapter headings of some of my more recent research which might give you or anyone else on this forum who are interested, an overview of the whole story of the evolutionary alternative and its scaled/fractal nature. I have the first five chapters available to read (in its unedited, but fully referenced form) see link here:
I can upload the last five chapters (fully referenced - but still to be fully edited if anyone is particularly interested - just get in touch).

Hopefully after previewing these, you will understand my enthusiasm!!
Thanks again, for taking the time to discuss the possibilities of our fractal future with me.


A Scientifically-Guided Thought Experiment


Evolution by Other Means…?

ISBN: 978-1-78280-880-0

Table of Contents


Why I’m Not Qualified to Write this Book, but reasons to read it anyway














Hugo De Vries (1848 – 1935) LEAPS of EVOLUTIONARY NOVELTY – via HYBRIDATION?




Lynn Margulis (1938-2011) MICRO MERGERS AND SYMBIOSIS


Donald Irving Williamson (1922- 2016) HYBRID-METAMORPHOSIS?






Warmest Regards
P.S Any feedack, scientific corrections, constructive criticism (bearing in mind the pdf chapters are not fully edited as yet) would be much appreciated and general conversations are always welcome - I am always willing to consider all possibilities.

theories have the purpose to describe and explain things, observations and connections. if a new theory could describe and explain everything better, it could make the old one obsolete…
but this “new” theory is not so new after all. i remember reading about epigenetics more than ten years ago.
and i believe that it is healthy for science to be open- minded and be willing to give up old worldviews.
i am in favour of lamarckism since i was forced to “learn” at school that he was wrong, because his theory is much nicer than darwinism. and if i follow the idea of roger penrose that always the more beautiful theory turned out to be right, my approach was not so flawed at all to trust my gut when i hear about a theory. and my gut tells me again, that science has to be more humble in the light of the complexity of knowledge. the “scientific consensus” is the expression of the wish of humans to unify and simplify worldviews, therefore something like the “scientific consensus” tends to be dogmatic and inflexible which makes it more religious than scientific. if we want to use the tool of science to acquire more knowledge of the world and to understand causality, we have to give room to many theories, no matter how disturbing they may seem. but what we do much too often is to give up theories before anyone managed to falsify them for the sake of a simpler worldview. truth is not a matter of consensus, not a matter of popularity and not a matter of an official declaration. truth is something we could approximate when we are able to collect as many puzzle pieces as possible and acknowledge them all.
maybe when we will have conscious AI we will be much more able to deal with the variety of theories.

i am not a biologist but as a philosopher i had to learn that nothing is solid as rocks, except rocks maybe, but maybe not all of them. :nerd:
unfortunately i could not contribute to the topic as such, only with my knowledge acquired at school and i remember that i was taught, the difference between the positions of darwin and lamarck are: exclusively random mutation vs. environmentally induced mutation and i never understood, since i read the first time about epigenetics, why this discovery is not considered a falsification of darwinism. i would appreciate if you could explain this to me.


i started reading your book “but old mr. darwin wasn´t to blame”. it is an interesting approach to collect all those astonishing quotations.

That’s an important scientific principle, but, for it to be true, it is necessary that both theories have equal amounts of evidence supporting them.

Even if the new theory is more intuitive and seems to “explain things better” than the older one, it can’t render it obsolete until:

  1. It has gathered an amount of supporting evidence that either equals or surpasses the evidence supporting its predecessor. Or…

  2. In alternative, what can happen is that the old theory becomes discredited for some reason (experimentations proves it wrong).

Ten years is not much time in science years :stuck_out_tongue:

Me too, and so does everyone in science.

You were not forced to learn that he was wrong, you were taught the scientific consensus of your age , which is that he did make some misconceptions regarding the inheritability of aquired characteristics.

You can’t support a theory because it’s nicer, and you definitly can’t trust your gut when it comes to science!

Science must be based on evidence and facts, not on beauty and gut feelings.

I’m sorry, but when I read this part of your post I couldn’t help but to think of Lysenkoism. Joseph Stalin seemed to think in a way very similar to your own, as did many dictators throughout history. Their attempts to make science fit their beliefs had disastruous consequences for their peoples, causing famine, poverty and technological retardment.

Please note that I am not suggesting that you support authoritarian control over science. I’m merely pointing out that you are making the same mistake as they made by supporting a theory for any reason other than evidence and facts.

Your gut is wrong. No one is more eager to embrace new evidence and to prove others wrong than scientists.

Just look at how much the consensus has changed over the last hundred years. It’s true that it took time for some ideas to be accepted, but that’s only because scientist were still gathering the necessary evidence.

There is absolutely nothing religious about the modern scientific community and to claim that they are holding to some sort of dogma is a very serious accusation that should not be made without some serious argumentation backing it.

Once again, both I and the scientific community are with you on that matter. What makes you think that we do not give room to many different theories?

There is a difference between being skeptical and being dogmatic. Research on epigenetics is progressing in full speed, including those studies that Maria quotes in her blog, and no one is trying in any way to stop them or slow them down. The only reason why the scientific consensus hasn’t changed is because there isn’t sufficient evidence to justify an abandonment of neo-darwininsm in favour of neo-lamarckism.

I’m not an expert in epigenetics, and I’m aware that I haven’t read as much on the subject as Maria, but, until now, I haven’t seen any evidence emerge from that field that is inconsistent with the modern evolutionary synthesis. For that reason, I still think that building on the current consesus is the way to go regarding evolutionary theory.

That said, my opinion may change in the future, as may that of the mainstream scientific community.

Modern Evolutionary synthesis is pretty solid as far as scientific theories go (an that is considerably more solid than philosophical theories can go).

It’s more like this:

  • Lamarck: Inheritance of aquired characteristics.

  • Darwin: Natural selection (survival of the fittest); Accepted the inheritance of aquired characteristics.

  • Modern Evolutionary Synthesis (Neo-Darwinism): Natural selection; Random mutation.

In the end, the only real difference between Darwin and Lamarck was that the former introduced the concept of Natural Selection, which later became the basis of the modern evolutionary synthesis.

So, basically, when people say Darwinism vs Lamarckism what they really mean is Neo-Darwininsm vs Lamarckism/Neo-Lamarckism.

Having been in college for a while now, I can see that the science was taught in high school was heavily simplified, I would even say it was dumbed down. I wonder how much they really doubted of my intelligence.

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With what justification can you claim that, when the evidence points into the direction that some acquired characteristics can indeed be inherited (namely, at least some of those induced by changes in epigenetic makeup)? Wouldn’t that rather invalidate Modern Evolutionary Synthesis in favour of classical Darwinism (which would need to be updated a bit)? Or does Modern Evolutionary Synthesis accept the possibility of inheritance of acquired characteristics?

Could you please explain what “Modern Evolutionary Synthesis” means in your own words?

Very briefly, the modern evolutionary synthesis is the theory that conciliates the principles of Darwinism (mainly natural selection) with other important discoveries made during the 19th and 20th centuries, especially genetics. It also somewhat mathematized darwinism and increased its scale of thinking. While Darwin focused most of his work in microevolution and thought mostly in terms of individuals, the modern synthesis focuses on macroevolution and thinks in terms of populations, in a very statistical way most of the time.

I think that the wikipedia article sums up the theory’s main working principles pretty well:

  • All evolutionary phenomena can be explained in a way consistent with known genetic mechanisms and the observational evidence of naturalists.
  • Evolution is gradual: small genetic changes regulated by natural selection accumulate over long periods. Discontinuities amongst species (or other taxa) are explained as originating gradually through geographical separation and extinction. This theory contrasts with the saltation theory of William Bateson (1894).[7]
  • Natural selection is by far the main mechanism of change; even slight advantages are important when continued. The object of selection is the phenotype in its surrounding environment.
  • The role of genetic drift is equivocal. Though strongly supported initially by Dobzhansky, it was downgraded later as results from ecological genetics were obtained.
  • Thinking in terms of populations, rather than individuals, is primary: the genetic diversity existing in natural populations is a key factor in evolution. The strength of natural selection in the wild is greater than previously expected; the effect of ecological factors such as niche occupation and the significance of barriers to gene flow are all important.
  • In palaeontology, the ability to explain historical observations by extrapolation from microevolution to macroevolution is proposed. Historical contingency means explanations at different levels may exist. Gradualism does not mean constant rate of change.

To answer your questions there are a few things we must consider:

  1. The Modern Evolotionary Synthesis is not a static theory, but a complex body of work that was developed over several decades by various different scientist. People are always adding new stuff to it, althought not all of those aditions are welcomed by everyone. The gene-centered view of natural selection, for example, is one of those controvertial new aditions;

  2. No scientist denies that epigenetic inheritence occurs. What they deny, or, at least, they claim not to be supported by sufficient evidence, is that it plays a major role in evolution.

  3. Classical darwinism doesn’t encompass evolutionary theories based on genetics or population dynamics, while the modern synthesis does.

  4. Just because Lamarck wasn’t totally wrong, that doesn’t mean that neraly all biologists of the 20th century were.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that, if epigenetic inheritance becomes part of the evolutionary theory, it will be building on neo-darwinism, not on the classical variant. No matter how important the epigenome turns out to be, genes still exist, and so do population dynamics.

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Thanks for that clarification.

So, if Modern Evolutionary Synthesis is a “dynamic theory”, then it basically integrates all kinds of new insights that are made in biology. Except there happens to be a completely new perspective that is somehow simpler, or makes much better predictions (or retrodictions) than Modern Evolutionary Synthesis. That would constitute a real paradigm shift. And at the moment it doesn’t look like epigenetics on their own would justify a paradigm shift in evolution.

Now I wonder how it would fit into that theory that we have the ability to choose our genes intelligently and adaptively, as well as increasing our lifespans indefinitely. I mean, in such a setting, how could you speak of “natural selection”?

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That’s a fascinating issue to consider.

I think that, when we reach that state of development, if we want to keep talking of evolution, we are going to have to start truly considering humanity as a part of nature (we are, after all), thereby merging biology with anthropology and the social sciences.

We will leave in a world where memes are translatable into genes, therefore being impossible to talk of biological evolution without talking about cultural evolution.

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I have been following the conversation and I am delighted that it has found a few interested parties (thank you for taking the time to read some of my articles and the book, previews and videos). So, maybe it’s a good time to return to the nub of all of this - as I see it: the fractal nature of Nature and therefore the fractal nature of evolution itself (whether you want to keep Neo-Darwinism in its integrated form or not), but anyone reading this or my research will know that I have come to understand that Neo-Darwinism is simply incompatible scientifically with the alternative evolutionary scenario which, I will stress once again: is only partially explicable by epigenetics - this is far from the whole story.

This brings me back to a major fractal piece of this alternative and have linked a newly composed blog/article on the topic

This article was specifically prompted by this conversation here, and I thought I would just focus on the main research regarding this as I know most of you don’t have the time to go through all the research loads of research to be found at my website/blog I have done to-date. The recent fractal scaling article also contains my personal story of how I came to understand the scaled fractal nature of Nature - hence, it has the same title. I think anyone interested in our natural world, our link with nature and fractal scales embedded in all will enjoy this article.

Thanks once more for the conversation. P.S I am away to the biggest traditional music festival in Ireland for the coming week (I play a small concertina), so I apologise in advance if the conversation is specifically addressed to me at any point during that time. Best Wishes


I just read an article about the abundance of horizontal gene transfer in nature, even among eukaryotes: The gene that jumped - Genes that leap from one species to another are more common than we thought. Does this shake up the tree of life?

The article has really many interesting examples of quite unexpected horizontal gene transfer. And it may point to the insight that parasites might be more important to evolution than previously assumed.

And there is another thought I had in the context of this conversation: How did epigenetic adaptation mechanisms evolve in the first place? I mean, it’s really cool that our (epi)genome seems to be able to regulate and adapt itself according to environmental requirements, but this ability by itself looks like a really advanced product of evolution. But it does make sense to some degree. Perhaps we have underestimated how quickly the environments of our distant genetic ancestors have changed. Species that could adapt to rapid environmental changes by quick epigenetic adaptation would have survived, whereas species without that remarkable ability would have perished. I guess the evolution of epigenetic phenomena in nature would be quite an interesting field of research.

*Yes, there is a great deal of evidence for HGT Horizontal gene transfer at
every scale of life does fundamentally mess with the Darwinian tree and the
epigenetic origin (co-evolution) with the code is explained in the
following article just uploaded today entitled Nature’s 1st liquid crystal
quantum computers? *

*I have listed a partial TOC for the forthcoming book below so that you can
see where the most appropriate info is regarding the horizontal gene
transfer and its other scale of genetic transfer (hybridisation) from
chapter six onwards. Chapter Two (THe Turing ENigma) is good for an intro
to the origins (bio-chemical) of epigenetic processes in co-evolution with
the other code in the context of the cell. *

Related chapters to this discussion


Alan Mathison Turing (1912-1954): THE TURING ENIGMA – MORPHOGENESIS AND THE


Hugo De Vries (1848 – 1935) LEAPS of EVOLUTIONARY NOVELTY – via HYBRIDATION?




Lynn Margulis (1938-2011) MICRO MERGERS AND SYMBIOSIS


Donald Irving Williamson (1922- 2016) HYBRID-METAMORPHOSIS?





The first five chapters are available to view at my website, but not the
latter five chapters yet, but if there is an interest I will make these
available in PDF on the forum. As I said last night on the forum, I’m away
for the next week, so hopefully, I can pick up this conversation when I get
back. I believe it is a very important one…

Warm Regards

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Anyone interested in a scientific (fractal) alternative to a non-Darwinian evolutionary future might like to download the following and please share widely so that we can continue to have this conversation …

Yes, replying to myself - how sad… Anyway, it’s been a long time since looking at this discussion - but I’ve been following the fractal future chats - dipping in here and there. Just an update on this discussion - See direct Link to download full Kindle book for free or the pdf Evolution A Scientifically Guided Thought Experiment BOOK ONE Evolution By Other Means doc.pdf (3.2 MB)

Whoops - wrong image - sorry folks - I’m uploading the right one now - hopefully, nobody noticed the difference,

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Wow, it must have taken you a lot of time and effort to finish that book. It certainly looks like a nice compilation of thoughts regarding alternative ideas in evolution.

Actually, I’ve started reading your works, but eventually got sidetracked by things that seemed more, well, urgent. No idea how to actually make the world a better place with a different theory of evolution. :smiley: Perhaps by turning it into a sci-fi story? The Less Wrong community did something similar by encoding some of its lessons on rationality into a Harry Potter fanfic called “Harry Potter and The Methods of Rationality”.

I must say that this particular fanfic is the best harry potter story I’ve ever read. Yes, better than the original books.