Toward a Biology Worthy of Life > The Unbearable Wholeness of Beings > Brief excerpt
A project by Stephen L. Talbott

Of cross-talk and “horror graphs” (1)

In the conventional machine model of the organism, signaling pathways were straightforward, with a clearcut input at the start of the pathway leading to an equally clearcut output at the end. Not so today, as a team of molecular biologists at the Free University of Brussels found out when they looked at how these pathways interact or “crosstalk” with each other. Tabulating the cross-signalings between just four such pathways yielded what they called a “horror graph,” and quickly it began to look as though “everything does everything to everything” (Dumont et al. 2001). In reality, we see a “collaborative” process that can be “pictured as a table around which decision-makers debate a question and respond collectively to information put to them” (Levy et al. 2010). This directed, corporate decision-making is not the stuff of mere physics and chemistry.

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