Evo-Info 3: Evolution is not search

Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics, by Robert J. Marks II, the “Charles Darwin of Intelligent Design”; William A. Dembski, the “Isaac Newton of Information Theory”; and Winston Ewert, the “Charles Ingram of Active Information.” World Scientific, 332 pages.
Classification: Engineering mathematics. Engineering analysis. (TA347)
Subjects: Evolutionary computation. Information technology–Mathematics.

Marks, Dembski, and Ewert open Chapter 3 by stating the central fallacy of evolutionary informatics: “Evolution is often modeled by as [sic] a search process.” The long and the short of it is that they do not understand the models, and consequently mistake what a modeler does for what an engineer might do when searching for a solution to a given problem. What I hope to convey in this post, primarily by means of graphics, is that fine-tuning a model of evolution, and thereby obtaining an evolutionary process in which a maximally fit individual emerges rapidly, is nothing like informing evolution to search for the best solution to a problem. We consider, specifically, a simulation model presented by Christian apologist David Glass in a paper challenging evolutionary gradualism à la Dawkins. The behavior on exhibit below is qualitatively similar to that of various biological models of evolution.

Animation 1. Parental populations in the first 2000 generations of a run of the Glass model, with parameters (mutation rate .005, population size 500) tuned to speed the first occurrence of maximum fitness (1857 generations, on average), are shown in orange. Offspring are generated in pairs by recombination and mutation of heritable traits of randomly mated parents. The fitness of an individual in the parental population is, loosely, the number of pairs of offspring it is expected to leave. In each generation, the parental population is replaced by surviving offspring. Which of the offspring die is arbitrary. When the model is modified to begin with a maximally fit population, the long-term regime of the resulting process (blue) is the same as for the original process. Rather than seek out maximum fitness, the two evolutionary processes settle into statistical equilibrium.

Figure 1. The two bar charts, orange (Glass model) and blue (modified Glass model), are the mean frequencies of fitnesses in the parental populations of the 998,000 generations following the 2,000 shown in Animation 1. The mean frequency distributions approximate the equilibrium distribution to which the evolutionary processes converge. In both cases, the mean and standard deviation of the fitnesses are 39.5 and 2.84, respectively, and the average frequency of fitness 50 is 0.0034. Maximum fitness occurs in only 1 of 295 generations, on average.

I should explain immediately that an individual organism is characterized by 50 heritable traits. For each trait, there are several variants. Some variants contribute 1 to the average number offspring pairs left by individuals possessing them, and other variants contribute 0. The expected number of offspring pairs, or fitness, for an individual in the parental population is roughly the sum of the 0-1 contributions of its 50 traits. That is, fitness ranges from 0 to 50. It is irrelevant to the model what the traits and their variants actually are. In other words, there is no target type of organism specified independently of the evolutionary process. Note the circularity in saying that evolution searches for heritable traits that contribute to the propensity to leave offspring, whatever those traits might be.

The two evolutionary processes displayed above are identical, apart from their initial populations, and are statistically equivalent over the long term. Thus a general account of what occurs in one of them must apply to both of them. Surely you are not going to tell me that a search for the “target” of maximum fitness, when placed smack dab on the target, rushes away from the target, and subsequently finds it once in a blue moon. Hopefully you will allow that the occurrence of maximum fitness in an evolutionary process is an event of interest to us, not an event that evolution seeks to produce. Again, fitness is not the purpose of evolution, but instead the propensity of a type of organism to leave offspring. So why is it that, when the population is initially full of maximally fit individuals, the population does not stay that way indefinitely? In each generation, the parental population is replaced with surviving offspring, some of which are different in type (heritable traits) from their parents. The variety in offspring is due to recombination and mutation of parental traits. Even as the failure of parents to leave perfect copies of themselves contributes to the decrease of fitness in the blue process, it contributes also to the increase of fitness in the orange process.

Both of the evolutionary processes in Animation 1 settle into statistical equilibrium. That is, the effects of factors like differential reproduction and mutation on the frequencies of fitnesses in the population gradually come into balance. As the number of generations goes to infinity, the average frequencies of fitnesses cease to change (see “Wright, Fisher, and the Weasel,” by Joe Felsenstein). More precisely, the evolutionary processes converge to an equilibrium distribution, shown in Figure 1. This does not mean that the processes enter a state in which the frequencies of fitnesses in the population stay the same from one generation to the next. The equilibrium distribution is the underlying change­less­ness in a ceaselessly changing population. It is what your eyes would make of the flicker if I were to increase the frame rate of the animation, and show you a million generations in a minute.

Animation 2. As the mutation rate increases, the equilibrium distribution shifts from right to left, which is to say that the long-term mean fitness of the parental population decreases. The variance of the fitnesses (spread of the equilibrium distribution) increases until the mean reaches an intermediate value, and then decreases. Note that the fine-tuned mutation rate .005 ≈ 10–2.3 in Figure 1.

Let’s forget about the blue process now, and consider how the orange (randomly initialized) process settles into statistical equilibrium, moving from left to right in Animation 1. The mutation rate determines

  1. the location and the spread of the equilibrium distribution, and also
  2. the speed of convergence to the equilibrium distribution.

Animation 2 makes the first point clear. In visual terms, an effect of increasing the mutation rate is to move equilibrium distribution from right to left, placing it closer to the distribution of the initial population. The second point is intuitive: the closer the equilibrium distribution is to the frequency distribution of the initial population, the faster the evolutionary process “gets there.” Not only does the evolutionary process have “less far to go” to reach equilibrium, when the mutation rate is higher, but the frequency distribution of fitnesses changes faster. Animation 3 allows you to see the differences in rate of convergence to the equilibrium distribution for evolutionary processes with different mutation rates.

Animation 3. Shown are runs of the Glass model with mutation rate we have focused upon, .005, doubled and halved. That is,  = 2 ⨉ .005 = .01 for the blue process, and  = 1/2 ⨉ .005 = .0025 for the orange process.

An increase in mutation rate speeds convergence to the equilibrium distribution, and reduces the mean frequency of maximum fitness.

I have selected a mutation rate that strikes an optimal balance between the time it takes for the evolutionary process to settle into equilibrium, and the time it takes for maximum fitness to occur when the process is at (or near) equilibrium. With the mutation rate set to .005, the average wait for the first occurrence of maximum fitness, in 1001 runs of the Glass model, is 1857 generations. Over the long term, maximum fitness occurs in about 1 of 295 generations. Although it’s not entirely accurate, it’s not too terribly wrong to think in terms of waiting an average of 1562 generations for the evolutionary process to reach equilibrium, and then waiting an average of 295 generations for a maximally fit individual to emerge. Increasing the mutation rate will decrease the first wait, but the decrease will be more than offset by an increase in the second wait.

Figure 2. Regarding Glass’s algorithm (“Parameter Dependence in Cumulative Selection,” Section 3) as a problem solver, the optimal mutation rate is inversely related to the squared string length (compare to his Figure 3). We focus on the case of string length (number of heritable traits) L = 50, population size N = 500, and mutation rate  = .005, with scaled mutation rate uʹ L2 = 12.5 ≈ 23.64. The actual rate of mutation, commonly denoted u, is 26/27 times the rate reported by Glass. Note that each point on a curve corresponds to an evolutionary process. Setting the parameters does not inform the evolutionary search, as Marks et al. would have you believe, but instead defines an evolutionary process.

Figure 2 provides another perspective on the point at which changes in the two waiting times balance. In each curve, going from left to right, the mutation rate is increasing, the mean fitness at equilibrium is decreasing, and the speed of convergence to the equilibrium distribution is increasing. The middle curve (L = 50) in the middle pane (N = 500) corresponds to Animation 2. As we slide down the curve from the left, the equilibrium distribution in the animation moves to the left. The knee of the curve is the point where the increase in speed of convergence no longer offsets the increase in expected wait for maximum fitness to occur when the process is near equilibrium. The equilibrium distribution at that point is the one shown in Figure 1. Continuing along the curve, we now climb steeply. And it’s easy to see why, looking again at Figure 1. A small shift of the equilibrium distribution to the left, corresponding to a slight increase in mutation rate, greatly reduces the (already low) incidence of maximum fitness. This brings us to an important question, which I’m going to punt into the comments section: why would a biologist care about the expected wait for the first appearance of a type of organism that appears rarely?

You will not make sense of what you’ve seen if you cling to the misconception that evolution searches for the “target” of maximally fit organisms, and that I must have informed the search where to look. What I actually did, by fine-tuning the parameters of the Glass model, was to determine the location and the shape of the equilibrium distribution. For the mutation rate that I selected, the long-term average fitness of the population is only 79 percent of the maximum. So I did not inform the evolutionary process to seek out individuals of maximum fitness. I selected a process that settles far away from the maximum, but not too far away to suit my purpose, which is to observe maximum fitness rapidly. If my objective were to observe maximum fitness often, then I would reduce the mutation rate, and expect to wait longer for the evolutionary process to settle into equilibrium. In any case, my purpose for selecting a process is not the purpose of the process itself. All that the evolutionary process “does” is to settle into statistical equilibrium.

Sanity check of some claims in the book

Unfortunately, the most important thing to know about the Glass model is something that cannot be expressed in pictures: fitness has nothing to do with an objective specified independently of the evolutionary process. Which variants of traits contribute 1 to fitness, and which contribute 0, is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is that I ignore traits entirely in my implementation of the model, and keep track of 1s and 0s instead. Yet I have replicated Glass’s results. You cannot argue that I’ve informed the computer to search for a solution to a given problem when the solution simply does not exist within my program.

Let’s quickly test some assertions by Marks et al. (emphasis added by me) against the reality of the Glass model.

There have been numerous models proposed for Darwinian evolution. […] We show repeatedly that the proposed models all require inclusion of significant knowledge about the problem being solved. If a goal of a model is specified in advance, that’s not Darwinian evolution: it’s intelligent design. So ironically, these models of evolution purported to demonstrate Darwinian evolution necessitate an intelligent designer.

Chapter 1, “Introduction”


[T]he fundamentals of evolutionary models offered by Darwinists and those used by engineers and computer scientists are the same. There is always a teleological goal imposed by an omnipotent programmer, a fitness associated with the goal, a source of active information …, and stochastic updates.

Chapter 6, “Analysis of Some Biologically Motivated Evolutionary Models”


Evolution is often modeled by as [sic] a search process. Mutation, survival of the fittest and repopulation are the components of evolutionary search. Evolutionary search computer programs used by computer scientists for design are typically teleological — they have a goal in mind. This is a significant departure from the off-heard [sic] claim that Darwinian evolution has no goal in mind.

Chapter 3, “Design Search in Evolution and the Requirement of Intelligence”

My implementation of the Glass model tracks only fitnesses, not associated traits, so there cannot be a goal or problem specified independently of the evolutionary process.

Evolutionary models to date point strongly to the necessity of design. Indeed, all current models of evolution require information from an external designer in order to work. All current evolutionary models simply do not work without tapping into an external information source.

Preface to Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics


The sources of information in the fundamental Darwinian evolutionary model include (1) a large population of agents, (2) beneficial mutation, (3) survival of the fittest and (4) initialization.

Chapter 5, “Conservation of Information in Computer Search”

The enumerated items are attributes of an evolutionary process. Change the attributes, and you do not inform the process to search, but instead define a different process. Fitness is the probabilistic propensity of a type of organism to leave offspring, not search guidance coming from an “external information source.” The components of evolution in the Glass model are differential reproduction of individuals as a consequence of their differences in heritable traits, variety in the heritable traits of offspring resulting from recombination and mutation of parental traits, and a greater number of offspring than available resources permit to survive and reproduce. That, and nothing you will find in Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics, is a fundamental Darwinian account.

1,439 thoughts on “Evo-Info 3: Evolution is not search

  1. Tom English: Equating “governs” with “determines” is pathetic.

    Um…no its not.

    The English language has a limited number of words. Quite often those two words can be equated. I think saying that’s pathetic is pathetic-because we don’t have enough other words that equate with pathetic.

    Bifeezlethwit!

  2. phoodoo:

    Tom English: Equating “governs” with “determines” is pathetic.

    Um…no its not.

    The English language has a limited number of words. Quite often those two words can be equated. I think saying that’s pathetic is pathetic-because we don’t have enough other words that equate with pathetic.

    Bifeezlethwit!

    In present context, it is pathetic. Perhaps you did not notice, or do not know enough to notice, the relationship of determines to determinism. Perhaps you do not know that quantum mechanics is indeterministic. From the article “Causal Determinism” in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

    This leads to the following epistemic difficulty: if, in nature, we find a type of system that displays some or all of these latter properties, how can we decide which of the following two hypotheses is true?

    1. The system is governed by genuinely stochastic, indeterministic laws (or by no laws at all), i.e., its apparent randomness is in fact real randomness.
    2. The system is governed by underlying deterministic laws, but is chaotic.

    In other words, once one appreciates the varieties of chaotic dynamical systems that exist, mathematically speaking, it starts to look difficult—maybe impossible—for us to ever decide whether apparently random behavior in nature arises from genuine stochasticity, or rather from deterministic chaos. Patrick Suppes (1993, 1996) argues, on the basis of theorems proven by Ornstein (1974 and later) that “There are processes which can equally well be analyzed as deterministic systems of classical mechanics or as indeterministic semi-Markov processes, no matter how many observations are made.” And he concludes that “Deterministic metaphysicians can comfortably hold to their view knowing they cannot be empirically refuted, but so can indeterministic ones as well.” (Suppes 1993, p. 254)

    Emphasis added.

  3. Rumraket: Neither do you. You’ve just read some fancy phrases you have no fucking clue about.

    Rumraket is an expert on what everyone else is an expert on.

  4. @J-mac

    I take the fact that you neglected to answer my question as your tacit concession speech. I accept it, your concession, and I thank you for honestly admitting you know nothing of substance about quantum mechanics.

  5. Tom English: 1. The system is governed by genuinely stochastic, indeterministic laws (or by no laws at all)

    Maybe you want to go back and think about this a while?

  6. J-Mac,

    I mentioned interpretations of QM on the previous page, and indicated that QM is indeterministic under the interpretations favored by most physicists. QM is deterministic in many-worlds and many-histories interpretations (and perhaps others I do not know about — there are many).

    No one who suggests that an introduction to QM begins with entanglement knows jack about QM.

  7. Tom English: No one who suggests that an introduction to QM begins with entanglement knows jack about QM.

    Anyone who doesn’t know a jack about Quantum Entanglement is wasting my time talking on the theme of QM. Good Bye!

  8. Anyone who doesn’t know a jack about Quantum Entanglement is wasting my time talking on the theme of QM. Good Bye!

    J-Mac, what do you think you accomplish with your dramatic flounces? It doesn’t work for KN, and it certainly isn’t going to work for you.

  9. keiths: J-Mac, what do you think you accomplish with your dramatic flounces?It doesn’t work for KN, and it certainly isn’t going to work for you.

    The avoidance of direct answers certainly didn’t work for you…
    When you find proof that God is responsible for all the calamities today, as you claimed, send me an email. Until then, welcome to ignore! 😉

  10. J-Mac: Until then, welcome to ignore!

    I’ve never noticed you to be anything but ignorant of the substance of what others write, so I’m not expecting the step to total oblivion to have much of an impact on your comments.

  11. phoodoo: Maybe you want to go back and think about this a while?

    Maybe you don’t have the sense to click on the link and examine the context, let alone the courage to subject your own thinking to criticism?

  12. phoodoo: Tom English: 1. The system is governed by genuinely stochastic, indeterministic laws (or by no laws at all)

    You still haven’t thought about it, have you Tom?

  13. phoodoo: You still haven’t thought about it, have you Tom?

    You haven’t actually swallowed the line that righteous know-nothings easily catch sinful know-somethings in logic errors, have you?

    You should just leave. At this point, if you venture to reveal your “clever” catch, I will humiliate you. I think you’re basically a decent guy, and I’ve been giving you a lot of leeway. But you’re going far out of your way, lately, to be a dick — indeed a very sick dick, given your claims to be on the side of Jesus. So just leave.

  14. J-Mac: you claim that quantum entanglement is not basic QM

    Ah, so you quote prodigiously, except when you need to change what someone has written. That’s mighty screwed up, even for a sock-puppet of a Christian.

  15. phoodoo: But how is that going to solve the paradox of something being governed by no laws at all?

    I knew exactly what you were driving at. In such a short quote, there’s not a hell of a lot to choose from, is there?

    I essentially told you to click on the link, and check the context. Knowing that you’re a reasonably intelligent person, I have to believe that you still haven’t checked. In all sincerity, your behavior is beyond my ken.

    The authors had introduced the philosophical view that there are in reality no governing laws — that the putative laws are entirely our construction. No one reading for comprehension would think that the authors tacked on the parenthetic remark to indicate that the universe might be governed by no laws. It serves as reminder that indeterministic laws are not the only philosophical alternative to deterministic laws.

    People write for cooperative readers — people who want to know what writers are trying to communicate, not people who are scouring prose for superficial “gotchas.” Finding something wrong with how something is written is not finding something wrong with what is written. In fact, a norm of discourse is to interpret what you read charitably. The idea is always to respond to what the author intends to convey, not to exploit faults in the text, and pin on the author something s/he does not intend to convey.

    Mung, are you reading this?

  16. Tom English,

    I read as much of it as I needed to. And no where did I see where the author justifies calling something a system, if there are no laws governing it.

    Secondly, there is no justification for the following:

    Not every metaphysical picture makes this disentanglement possible, of course. But as a general matter, we can imagine that certain things are fated to happen, without this being the result of deterministic natural laws alone; and we can imagine the world being governed by deterministic laws, without anything at all being fated to occur (perhaps because there are no gods, nor mystical/teleological forces deserving the titles fate or destiny, and in particular no intentional determination of the “initial conditions” of the world).

    I don’t know what the author means by being able to imagine a world with deterministic laws, but with no God. We can imagine pretty much anything, but that doesn’t make it a reasonable position. I find the whole notion of laws, with zero cause of those laws to be pretty ridiculous, and frankly not something one can even imagine with any clarity, if one is being honest about their imagination.

    So once the author has already lost my trust, I see no real reason to go much further.

  17. phoodoo: I read as much of it as I needed to. And no where did I see where the author justifies calling something a system, if there are no laws governing it.

    System: a set of connected things or parts forming a complex whole, in particular.

  18. newton: System: a set of connected things or parts forming a complex whole, in particular.

    How did they become connected, how did they become complex, and what is meant by complex?

    There is no reason to believe (other than the author claiming we can imagine almost anything) that things could become connected and complex (and consistent I assume, or you wouldn’t be able to name it) without governing laws.

  19. phoodoo,

    I find the whole notion of laws, with zero cause of those laws to be pretty ridiculous, and frankly not something one can even imagine with any clarity […]

    I have the same response to ‘being existing outside space and time’.

  20. Yep. Either there is an explanation for everything, or there is not an explanation for everything. If there is an explanation for everything, then the God you posit to explain everything else, itself needs an explanation. And so on ad infinitum.

  21. Rumraket: Either there is an explanation for everything, or there is not an explanation for everything. If there is an explanation for everything, then the God you posit to explain everything else, itself needs an explanation. And so on ad infinitum.

    Are you Richard Dawkins?

  22. Rumraket: Will you tell anyone if I am? No, you can’t have my autograph.

    The atheists here don’t get their ideas from Richard Dawkins, but that sure sounds just like Richard Dawkins.

  23. phoodoo: I don’t know what the author means by being able to imagine a world with deterministic laws, but with no God. We can imagine pretty much anything, but that doesn’t make it a reasonable position. I find the whole notion of laws, with zero cause of those laws to be pretty ridiculous, and frankly not something one can even imagine with any clarity, if one is being honest about their imagination.

    So once the author has already lost my trust, I see no real reason to go much further.

    It’s an encyclopedia article on the topic of causal determinism, not a personal essay. Philosophers don’t dismiss out of hand conceivable positions that turn out not to have good arguments.

    Here’s a passage you missed (Section 2.4, “Laws of Nature”):

    But a third and growing class of philosophers holds that (universal, exceptionless, true) laws of nature simply do not exist. Among those who hold this are influential philosophers such as Nancy Cartwright, Bas van Fraassen, and John Dupré. For these philosophers, there is a simple consequence: determinism is a false doctrine.

  24. Alan Fox:
    Moved some comments to guano.

    Probably not enough if you were to be fair…

    Tom English: “You should just leave. At this point, if you venture to reveal your “clever” catch, I will humiliate you…

    Or maybe I should take care of that?

  25. Tom English: But a third and growing class of philosophers holds that (universal, exceptionless, true) laws of nature simply do not exist.

    Insane people exist everywhere. Why would philosophy be an exception?

  26. J-Mac: Probably not enough [moved to guano] if you were to be fair…

    Yesterday, I was traveling. Today, I was playing catch-up.

    Yes, I saw many posts that probably should be in guano. But I was playing catch-up, and that would have slowed me down. So I gave them a pass.

  27. Neil Rickert: Yesterday, I was traveling.Today, I was playing catch-up.

    Yes, I saw many posts that probably should be in guano.But I was playing catch-up, and that would have slowed me down.So I gave them a pass.

    But you would agree with me that whoever threatens another blog member:
    Tom English writes to phoodooo: “You should just leave. At this point, if you venture to reveal your “clever” catch, I will humiliate you…with humiliation and gets away with it deserves AT LEAST the very same thing he was threatening with?

    What do others think?

  28. J-Mac,

    No, that’s not true. For one, I can find authors who agree with me. See the OP.

    You have a fair point but you should copy and paste in moderation issues.

  29. phoodoo: How did they become connected, how did they become complex, and what is meant by complex?

    Good question, too bad you lost interest in the link, it might have manipulated your mind with words.

    There is no reason to believe (other than the author claiming we can imagine almost anything)

    No need to believe anything except there are many unknowns, both known and unknown.

    that things could become connected and complex (and consistent I assume, or you wouldn’t be able to name it)

    Not part of the definition. Wonder what the difference is between being consistently inconsistent and being inconsistently consistent.

    without governing laws.

    To be consistent , what is meant by governing and law.

  30. J-Mac: But you would agree with me that whoever threatens another blog member:
    Tom English writes to phoodooo: “You should just leave. At this point, if you venture to reveal your “clever” catch, I will humiliate you…with humiliation and gets away with it deserves AT LEAST the very same thing he was threatening with?

    What do others think?

    The use of … is always suspicious and generally misleading. Is that what you had in mind?

  31. J-Mac: What do others think?

    That you’re an idiot? I guess that is what others think. Not me, however. I wouldn’t think that of you. 🙂

  32. Mung: The atheists here don’t get their ideas from Richard Dawkins, but that sure sounds just like Richard Dawkins.

    I’m sure Dawkins also agrees with me that 1+1=2. That doesn’t mean we got it from each other.

    He might have got it from me, or we might have alighted on the same line of reasoning. Either way it doesn’t matter. What matters is the content, not how many other people think the same way or where they got it from.

  33. phoodoo,

    You softened your tone, and I gave you a polite response. Why not, before continuing, acknowledge that the parenthetic remark that you took exception to actually does make sense in full context?

    Another question: After I quoted a passage illustrating the distinction of “determines” and “governs,” why did I let you change the topic to a parenthetic remark in the passage? It was a sad lapse of attention on my part. I not only showed you the distinction, but also gave you a pretty good idea of why we need the distinction. But then I contributed to the sound and the fury. So you scored your little point there. It won’t be quite so easy in the future.

    You complained about my OP on the moderation page. Why don’t you copy the substantive points here. I do have responses. But I’m putting them on the moderation page. (J-Mac needs to stop posting moderation issues all over the blog.)

  34. Tom English,

    The longer this topic stays as a featured post, the less respect I have for the moderators here-if that is possible.

    There is nothing special about this post, it has run its course, its not interesting, and it only applies to you, as most others don’t care about it any longer at all. Its that simple. I think the post would have been a lot better if you could have whittled your complaints down to something manageable and coherent enough that it would actually be something that could be discussed. But I am not seeing it, and I don’t think anyone else is.

    But we both know that Alan and Neils are completely biased moderators, and so if anything even resembles being a criticism of UD or ID, then they jump with glee, and this is the only reason it is featured here. I am sure to any newcomers to this site, it seems stale and purposeless continuing to see this as some great example of the site. How long has it been up now? Enough is enough.

  35. Maybe they can add another section over on the left side of the page or at the bottom of the page for previously featured posts.

  36. Mung:
    Maybe they can add another section over on the left side of the page or at the bottom of the page for previously featured posts.

    Maybe we can call it the whine bar.

  37. phoodoo: The longer this topic stays as a featured post, the less respect I have for the moderators here-if that is possible.

    Alan marked it as featured, at the request of Tom. I’m not going to change the featuring of that post unless I hear from Alan or Tom.

  38. The second factor that could affect whether populations evolve in parallel concerns whether there are multiple ways to solve a problem posed by the environment.

    – Improbable Destinies p. 241

    Evolution as problem solving. Let’s hope this is just a single isolated case.

  39. Neil’s been letting Alan and Patrick carry water for him for far too long. Can’t wait to see what happens when Alan steps down.

  40. phoodoo: Are requests permanent?

    It depends on the requesters ego… The more self-inflated the ego of the OP author/requester, the longer the OP is going to be featured…

    So, I guess you realize what this means… 😭

  41. Neil Rickert: Alan marked it as featured, at the request of Tom. I’m not going to change the featuring of that post unless I hear from Alan or Tom.

    I brought up the issue with Alan last week. I had not originally planned to ask that Evo-Info 4 be featured, precisely because it will be mathematical. However, I think now that it is remarkable stuff — it’s amazing what MDE have done to make their math look more substantive than it actually is — even if the audience will be smaller. And, hey, phoodoo said on the moderation page that he was anxious to see the math. I’m sure he’ll understand it much better than the lousy visuals in this post.

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