Natural Selection is described as “the differential survival and reproduction of individuals due to differences in phenotype”. To this, some add “blind, mindless, and purposeless environmental process” that nonetheless is imagined turning random genetic mutations into superior new features enhancing descendants’ survivability (fitness). Accumulation of these features supposedly turns one lifeform into another over time. Natural Selection seeks to explain the appearance of design in nature without appealing to a designer.
This definition however fails the simplest test as different phenotypes survive different environments thus delinking phenotype from survivability. In a small farm, only organisms closely related to their wild cousins survive, but agribusinesses select for chickens with oversize breasts and research labs select for populations with specific genetic mutations requiring tight environments to survive. Although all these have different phenotypes, they do not possess an intrinsic phenotype “fitness” independent of the environment. In addition, who decides what is natural and what is not? Darwin considered domestication natural enough to include it as supporting argument. And as far as “blind, mindless, and purposeless”, all these are impossible to prove in addition to being utterly incompatible with the anthropic concepts of “better adapted” and “better fit”, both of which cannot be evaluated independent of survivability anyway.
Natural Selection is supposed to tie both ways survivability with phenotype, but this leaves out the environment which not only affects survivability directly, but also phenotype, itself a sum of genotype plus the environment, and even genotype that is a recurrent function of previous genotypes and the environment again. So in the end, survivability is a recurrent function of genotype, an infinite continuum of environments, and other unknown factors. While survivability can be measured as can be the individual genotype, measuring a population’s genotype is daunting at best, and the impact of the ever changing environment is simply impossible to evaluate. Phenotypes are impossible to define and measure in entirety even for one individual and, in addition, phenotype changes constantly from birth to adult to old age. We do see genetic mutations (unknowable if random) and we do know that, given a similar environment, extreme genotypes reduce survivability, yet we also know that a large variety of genotypes survive just fine in any population.
Fitness is never defined independently of survivability – this renders the fitness concept redundant especially since survivability can be measured while fitness cannot. Evolutionary Fitness is defined as the quantitative representation of natural and sexual selection (reproductive success) of a genotype or phenotype in a given environment. “Survival of the fittest” is interpreted as: “Survival of the form (phenotypic or genotypic) that will leave the most copies of itself in successive generations.” Not only is survivability the only measure, but survivability also changes with the environment.
Natural Selection is Intelligent Selection which is always done by an Intelligent Selector such as Darwin’s breeder which is an intelligent and willful player that takes intentional actions to reach preset goals. Predators, plants, birds, insects or bacteria, all show intelligence and the willful pursuit of predetermined goals. When interacting with the inert environment, organisms self-select rather than being selected by this environment. As soon as the organism dies and becomes part of the lifeless universe, all selection of that entity ceases.
Selection is limited to a narrow set of possible adaptations – what is not there, cannot be selected. Among the most common adaptations are body color/size/shape, hair type, antibiotic/chemical resistance, and behavior, and even these are limited in scope. Farmers would like to grow walking chicken breasts the size of hogs that grow much faster and come in various flavors, but this is not happening despite their best efforts. Antibiotic resistant bacteria still cannot survive extreme temperatures and chemical concentrations and their resistance decreases when the stimulus is removed. Rabbits cannot turn green when hopping over grass and white just over winter, despite the clear advantage such camouflage would bring. Size of tails, horns, beaks, trees, etc. are all stable over time as tradeoffs limit their growth. Human intelligence, flying, swimming, venom, and all other desirable capabilities remain restricted to specific organisms. Domestication has greatly helped mankind’s progress, but it has not changed the nature of the target animals and plants despite intensive efforts to accelerate their evolution. Instead, humans only enhanced the built in characteristics of domestic organisms and simply did without – a huge civilization disadvantage – when those plants and animals were unavailable. Hence, selection does not “design”, is limited in scope to a few available characteristics, and is reversed as soon as the selection pressure ends.
Extinct organism were not flawed and their features were not “selected away”. Most characteristics of the extinct survive just fine in current organisms of which some changed so little over time they are called living fossils. Sure, the mammal eye might provide superior vision to insect eye, but nothing comes for free and tradeoffs ensure both survive. Organisms that have completely vanished cannot be characterized as flawed and it would not take much imagination to see them thriving in a current landscape. The environment may have changed dramatically over time, however on a macro scale, the environment affected all organisms making the “natural selection” explanation highly doubtful regarding why some organisms survived in their old form, why some went extinct and why others would survive in a changed form. Humans and apes shared the same environment in Africa so common genotype would not have caused our dramatic differences just as lions are not that different than leopard, the cheetah and the others.
What if anything should replace Natural Selection? Humans have applied the most intensive and targeted selective pressure on us and others with great results for our existence. Yet we have not transformed even one organism into another – not even the lowly eColi after decades of laboratory work (Lenski). Our dogs are still basic canines and our cats are still basic felines, not much different than their wild cousins. If anything, we had to adapt to them rather than them to us. The finch, the moth, the antibiotic resistant bacteria are still the original organisms, their hailed changes having reverted or proven simple adaptations. We are no smarter, more powerful or longer living (in absolute) than out primitive ancestors. Selection is not transformative, much less creative.
Humans would apply the Natural Selection method if feasible. But we don’t because it isn’t. A Natural Selection software would use a random generator and a selection criteria to maximize survivability in an available niche. For instance, a family vehicle should optimize the transport function (survivability) given a set of environmental constraints (regulations) and an existing design as starting point. Random minute changes could be tested and retained if the transport function is improved. However, this method can only remove minor oversights but will never create any new designs. Any significant departure such as a new fuel, material or environment either results in a suboptimal design, or requires a cascade of changes to improve the survivability function. That is why the auto industry, like most other industries, introduces minor redesign annually and major revamps every few years. And while even the minor improvements must come in harmonized packages rather than one off (to reduce negative ramifications), in the absence of those major redesigns a firm would shortly go extinct.
Designs do not transform into better designs without crossing an inevitable optimization gap. Given a certain environment, once a design is optimized for a certain function, it becomes suboptimal as soon as the function, the structure, or the materials changes. Until the new design is optimized for that particular change, it remains inferior to an old design already optimized to that environment. Humans optimize new designs (with multidimensional differences from previous versions) conceptually before abruptly replacing old designs. A Darwinist biologic gradual design transition would thus be impossible hence never observed in nature. Had the compound eye been optimized first, a transition to non-compound eye would inevitably had to be suboptimal for a while and vice versa. Only if all eye designs had started from the same point, each following an independent path and at the same pace would we have so many different designs today, each optimized for its function. This however implies a coordinated original grand design incompatible with Darwinian evolution.
Con: What about organic design? Isn’t that natural selection at work?
Pro: No. This is just iterative optimization of a given design. In this case, the wing shape, the material, the environmental forces and the optimization target are all given. The algorithm will not generate a new wing shape or material and it will stop converging as soon as the environment is less than perfectly defined. In addition, this design is radically different from the previous one, and the next iteration will certainly be radically different than this one (no gradualism).
Con: You just don’t understand natural selection.
Pro: If “natural selection” were hard to understand it would not be taught to young children. Instead, “natural selection” is more like very bad street magic where the bus is covered with the cloth and we then are asked to imagine it disappeared without even removing the cloth and showing us the empty space.
This is great news to me. I thought I was too short to play center in the NBA. Knowing height is not a biological property and it doesn’t make sense to say Dwight Howard is fitter than me to play basketball changes everything!
Thank you, kind creotard
You’ve got it the wrong way around. You can write whatever you want on the internet, but if you are expecting it to make a difference you have to bring the work to the appropriate venue, you can’t expect the world to pay attention to your website.
Said the random guy from the internet. The fact is that you might have the most revolutionary idea that has ever been had but as long as you refuse to engage on the only platform that matters, you’ll never get anywhere.
I can find John Harshman’s profile on ResearchGate. I can’t find one for Nonlin.org. What does it say about what Nonlin.org understands if somebody who understands nothing from nobody has a ResearchGate profile and somebody who presumably understands everything from everyone does not?
Could it be the assessment of your own ability and understanding is, well, flawed? If not, how do you explain your lack of success in getting your ideas over Nonlin.org?
So cryptic coloration does nothing to increase survival, because the benefit will be swamped by “medical problems”? Either camouflage brings a clear advantage or it does not. You don’t seem to be able to make up your mind.
I read all that, but it doesn’t answer my questions. Why is it so hard to answer a few simple questions? All you ever do is trying to shift the burden to me.
Why do some designs (yes, organismal designs) work better than others? There must be variation, otherwise there would be no sense in optimising design. Is cryptic coloration a design feature that promotes optimisation of design? Is survival the variable that is being optimised in organismal design?
Because in my view, all the objections you raised are also fatal to any design explanation. If survival has no relation to the phenotypic traits an organism has, than it is also inaccessible to any intelligent designer seeking to optimise the design in terms of survival. This is why I keep asking what traits are being optimised by the Designer, and what variable she is trying to optimise. And you can’t tell me, because you don’t know.
I see we need to go very basic here: You were asked to provide an explanation for the rise in the frequency of the melanistic morph of peppered moths in industrial parts of nineteeth century Brittain. This increase is at the population level, meaning the proportion of melanistic morphs has increased. Your answer above suggests that you think that individual moths have changed color, just like humans tan if we are exposed to sun. But the melanistic phenotype is caused by the expression of a genetic variant, so your explanation fails.
The only plausible explanation in my view is that melanistic moths left more descendants than wildtype moths, causing the frequency of the carbonaria allele to increase. This is the standard natural selection explanation that you are opposing. Now, you might not agree with it and that is all fine and dandy, but when asked for an alternative explanation, you either provide one that works or reply “I don’t know”. The fact that humans tan and have heritable variation for skin color is not in any way relevant to the peppered moths.
You need to highlight the piece of text you want to respond to, and than click (Quote in reply) at the bottom of the comment. The highlighted text will appear in the reply box and you can add your response directly below.
I’ll have to remember that one for keiths.
John, to Nonlin.org:
They are other reasons for repeating claims, especially when dealing with someone who is saddled with a Mung-like inability to read for comprehension.
John is not such a person.
Where have you been? Why not go back there?
You keep dancing around, but the reason your definition fails is because there’s nothing to define. I suspect you’re asking “clarifying questions” just to be annoying.
Anyway, the point with epidemics is that one single virus/bacteria can wipe out a population and that particular virus/bacteria is not phenotype, genotype, environment, microbiome, etc.
“Differential survival” is trivial nonsense – we’re all different and some survive. Duh!
Lenski has been running an eColi experiment since 1988 (that’s 16 million human-years equivalent!) to demonstrate “evolution” and he has only obtained more of the same eColi and nothing else. Of course, people have tried for ever to “evolve” all domestic organisms, and guess what? Nothing.
Yes, bacteria has a modicum of intelligence.
I will not write a tome so you can “understand”, when your lack of understanding is due to your complete immersion in New Astrology Darwinist thinking.
No. You’re wrong about that. Height changes all the time, not just during development and is arbitrary anyway. Just as well you can sort by vertical reach or eyes height (on or off tiptoes), etc. – these can be more important for survival than the standard measurement and will throw off your stats. Also food/climate/parasites during development affect size at maturity. And when exactly is maturity? This is not about “binary”.
I am fighting a big bad brainwashing machine. And guess what? Many people agree with me. Just not the ones brainwashing you. You should get out of your bubble more often.
This quote applies perfectly to you: https://quoteinvestigator.com/2010/05/17/remain-silent/
No, I ask because I would like to know what you’re trying (failing) to say.
No, that virus/bacterium is environment. But your original claim was that a viral epidemic can alter the genome. Did you forget where you started?
Still not getting it.
Once again you confuse evolution with…well, I want to say speciation, but you seem to be thinking of something bigger than that. Phylumization?
How do you know that?
So you refuse to explain anything at all. Why even bother to post? It’s obvious that you know nothing about the subject you’re pontificating on.
I see you’re back to your old claim that if we can’t measure a thing with perfect precision, or if it changes slightly over time or space, we can’t measure it at all. Is it also your claim that height is not influenced by genotype?
About what? Name one.
One more irony-meter bites the dust.
Nonlin’s mother maybe?
The answer is obviously “it depends”. A brown rabbit may be camouflaged in the summer, but not in the winter. That’s a main point you can’t grasp: phenotype (genotype) is not destiny. And if so, “natural selection” fails right at the definition level.
What organisms “work better than others”? Example? Even in a farm where people try to optimize for cash flow, they might grow big-breast chickens this year and big legs next year depending on the market. And just because they want chickens the size of cows that doesn’t mean it’s possible. And how about white vs brown eggs? They both sell, so no “optimized” design there either.
You’re stuck in the Darwinist nonsense “struggle for survival between competing designs” and “optimization” and that’s why you don’t understand. But look at “his” finches – one year is dry and another wet so you see big beaks and then they revert to normal size rather than drifting away. What was “optimized” this year is “sub-optimal” next one.
Forget trying to second guess the designer for now – we’re discussing whether “natural selection” makes any sense. And it doesn’t.
I truly hope you’re just a kid and that you’ll have time to mature and get better. You have no clue.
This is your example? I raise a lotta chickens for market each year and I’m pretty familiar with all the varieties of chickens that are available for all types of production (meat to eggs) but this claim of your is astounding.
Hope you don’t mind my asking you which variety/species of chickens do farmers raise for large breasts and which species are raised for large legs?
I’m absolutely confident that you’ll have no answer to my questions since your premise is so absurd and obviously false as to be llaughable.
If you’re wrong on such a simple and check-up-able claim what else do you think you might be wrong about? Everything?
No, that’s not what I was suggesting.
The moths have no obligation to change color, to survive, or to prosper. Your “explanation” is no explanation at all. You’re just observing what happened and build a post-hoc story that no one needs.
I know how selecting text works, but it’s still awkward for many other reasons.
In your opinion, what causes the beaks to get bigger and smaller?
They don’t need an obligation to do what they do. Moths are not obligated to suffer mutations in their genes, but they do it nevertheless. Mutations happen to the DNA when it is replicated, and these mutations have biochemical causes. And some of those mutations have phenotypical effects. And some of those phenotypes influence how well moths avoid predators, and how well they find food, and how good they are at finding mates and making lots of offspring.
Why the hell would you even start babbling about obligations? Am I obliged to obey gravity? Can I voluntarily stop that? Things happen to me that are outside my power to control. Such as the gravitational pull of the planet I live on.
Things happen to moth DNA when cells divide no matter how much the moth might want or feel obliged to it. Moths are spotted and eated by predators or they are not, no matter how “obliged” you think they are to do this. Those that aren’t spotted and eaten and manage to survive long enough to reproduce, will come to make up the next generation of the moth population.
If mutations happen to the DNA of moths for biochemical reasons, and those mutations happened in genes that affect the colour patterns of moths, and then those mutated moths had increased survival and reproduction rates compared to their non-mutated counterparts because they were better camouflaged, and those better survival and reproduction rates meant that the frequency of dark moths in the moth population increased during the industrial revolution when soot was covering the trees, is “no explanation at all”, then I dare say you don’t know an explanation when you see one.
All descriptions of historical events are post-hoc stories. Including explanations. Some are based on observation and evidence, some are not. This one is is based on actual observation and evidence.
One single virus is environment? What happened to the English forest? Or was that 100% virus-free certified by your crew?
Not that it matters for our discussion, but they say 8% of human DNA is of viral origin.
If so, you got some big problems. Maybe one of your buddies can help you.
So “evolution” is totally unrelated to “speciation”? Very funny that these two failures are unrelated .
Because they’re not dumb as a rock 🙂 These guys agree: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microbial_intelligence
That’s not fair. I have been explaining for weeks something that is frankly quite logical and experimentally obvious. Yes, it’s new and goes against the entrenched dogma you were fed for decades but still, I can only explain so many times in a different way. And we’re still at the definition. Where are the four questions? Where are the 13 conclusions?
On another note, you seem to be on this site day and night. Do you take any breaks? Do you sleep? Do you have a home or just live here? Not that it bothers me… just curious.
No one is forcing you to read something that goes against your dogma.
Is it a crime to not live on a farm? What about white and brown eggs? Was that example OK with you? I am certain you don’t speak for all (world-wide) farmers and all different market. Sure, “everything is wrong” because it all hangs on being a farmer.
Nobody says it has to be.
Why does it fail? It doesn’t follow from the claim that “the brown rabbit may be camouflaged in summer, but not in the winter, and genotypes aren’t destiny” that therefore natural selection fails at the definition level. You seem to be making a lot of non sequiturs.
The polar bear works better than brown bears at the arctic. Squid work better than cows in the deep ocea.
And that’d be a perfect example of selection in action. The people who decide which chickens to breed are doing the selection among chickens with different phenotypes.
So what? Some times we might want things that might not be possible. An irrelevant and trivial statement.
Evolution by natural selection is not contingent on all possible or imaginary transformations of species being possible.
Nobody says it has to be optimized in the sense that it is perfect.
There is no such thing as an organism that is perfect, or optimally adapted to all possible circumstances. And there doesn’t have to be such a thing for natural selection to make sense, or for species to change and evolve by natural selection over time.
Something “caused” that? No, adaptation is an existing capability without which the population just dies. For those that cannot adapt, extinction is always an alternative outcome.
Nobody said they are unrelated, just that they are not the same thing.
You can have evolution without speciation (that’s what is normally called microevolution), though not the other way around.
What is causing adaptation? How do the beaks change?
Who said it is a crime to not live on a farm? Quote them.
Who said “everything is wrong because it all hangs on being a farmer”? Quote them.
Not because of that – look at other previous comments.
That’s nonsense – they do not live in that environment. That’s not even how the narrative is supposed to work.
True. But that’s intelligent selection and is limited in scope – cannot lead (so far) to the transmutation of organisms promised by Darwin.
You make some comments that don’t take into account the previous questions and answers. Need to read first.
Fair? You talk about fair when your act consists of dropping any random words you like into pointless sentences?
Yes, something does indeed cause stuff to happen. Causation: basic feature of the universe. Answer the question.
Hey, right on. You wrote something we both agree on.
I missed the part where phenotype had to dictate the destiny of an organism, rather than influence probabilities. Also: if camouflage does not confer a benefit, it fails as a designed adaptation as well.
No, I won’t forget the designer, because I want to check whether your objections are consistent with your proposed alternative (design). And they aren’t. I don’t understand why that does not trouble you.
ETA: added some clarification
OK, good. Then what was it that you were suggesting?
My explanation does not require those obligations and can be used to predict population level changes a priori, so you are wrong. Still, I am willing to consider your alternative, as soon as you tell me what it is. What does “Changing color is a built in capability that humans have too – genetic or not.” mean precisely and how does it explain the increased frequency of melanistic moths in industrial areas of 19th century Britain?
Nonlin, this you need to explain. You rejected phenotypic plasticity as an explanation by stating that individual organisms do not change. So what is the alternative, if not increases in the population frequency of adaptive heritable traits? Don’t just bash NS again. Just give us your alternative explanation or say you don’t know.
No, you are not. You might think you are, but you are not.
The trouble is the people here are the people doing the brainwashing. You are hardly going to be able to convince those people they are wrong, are you?
Well, as you are just anonymous on the internet, like me, how do those people know they agree with you? Have they “liked” your website perhaps on Facebook?
In the real world we know when scientists agree with other scientists because their cite their work in their work. Given you’ve not published anything you’ve no mechanism for determining how “many” the many people that agree with you are.
For all you know it’s just your mum.
Sure. Just tell me where all the people are that agree with you and I’ll go and sign up on their site instead.
Can you link it to me please?
Why did your designer build some organisms with the ability to adapt and others without?
Is the ability to adapt therefore coded in the genes? If so, can you describe a test whereby we could determine which organisms can adapt and which cannot?
Your assertion was not supported in any other comment.
The polar and brown bear ranges overlap in the arctic zones. They have even been shown to some times interbreed.
Look, you are just wrong and ignorant. This is not a crime, but you can change that.
It’s still selection. It doesn’t matter what label you stick in front of the word selection. In so far as something, whatever that something might be, is causing differential survival and reproduction of phenotypes in a population, that is selection in operation and demonstrates that selection can and does happen and is a coherent concept everyone can understand.
and is limited in scope – cannot lead (so far) to the transmutation of organisms promised by Darwin.
Darwin didn’t “promise” transmutation of species. Rather he brought evidence for it in the form of evidence from selective breeding done by humans, and by bringing evidence for the share genealogical descent of species from comparative anatomy and from paleontology. He even made predictions about what sorts of fossils of organisms that should be possible to find if his inferred relationships were true.
Those relationships could over a century later be tested when scientists were able to sequence the genes of organisms that live today. If shared similar genes of these organisms could be shown to recapitulate the same genealogical relationships inferred using comparative morphology, this would be another line of evidence for common descent. And they do. This is all the evidence a rational person would ever need for the gradual transmutation of species over geological time.
Everything that was necessary to take into account, has been.
Not the nonsensical “natural selection” for sure. It’s a design feature of the organism to react within the design parameters to external stimuli. This is exactly how we build all pieces of machinery too.
You reject differential breeding success as a mechanism? Interesting! Do you have an alternative suggestion for how biology works?
Ah, the old front-loading idea!
Apparently camouflage confers no benefit to many poisonous organisms and to many others like the peacock. There is no absolute benefic trait.
What objections are not “consistent with your proposed alternative (design)”? There’s absolutely no inconsistency in noting “natural selection clearly fails” and not discussing many other alternatives.
News to me that peacocks are poisonous. Why do battlefield soldiers wear camouflage?
The rest is just you going in circles. I will not repeat for the tenth time.
This is crazy. Why are you making up stuff?
Again, you’re going in circles not countering any claim with something that makes sense, but instead trying to ask “tricky” questions. It’s getting boring.
Oh, the irony!
Anyway, do you have any intelligent arguments? Because your appeal to “authority” is worthless – no one cares.
You know where to find opposing views. Quit asking nonsense.
Stupid questions. Do you even know why?
I can marshal many, yes.
You seem to care enough to bother to reply. And it’s not an appeal to authority. I’m just asking have you convinced anyone yet?
I’m asking where I can find people who agree with you. I can see how that might seem nonsensical, but I’m somewhat surprised to find it’s you pointing that out.
He’s asking you to support your claims. I care whether people just make bald assertions or support their assertions with evidence. I may not be unique in preferring evidence-based claims to bald assertions.