Natural Selection – Evolution Magic

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.

Pro-Con Notes

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.

663 thoughts on “Natural Selection – Evolution Magic

  1. Nonlin.org: “Unstable infinite set” is my claim and I stand by it.

    This is not very productive, so let me move a little deeper into your territory. You are an IDer, right? So I am guessing you like the design argument from analogy.

    Let us assume that you told me that wheels are pretty darn important for the movement of a car, and that I were to reply: “No, wheels are just one element of the infinity of the complete car design. What other parts matter to movement? What do we know about the engine? Do we know everything about spark plugs? Would a car drive underwater? What if we drop it from a plane? You must agree we can’t say anything about how and why a car moves. More or less, all you can do is observe that cars move. And no! You can’t “estimate all those things closely enough for practical purposes”.

    Now, my guess is that you would say I have gone completely cuckoo. Yet to me, this is exactly the argument you present for the phenotype of organisms. I don’t know about the color pattern of zebra’s, but I am pretty sure that the color pattern of an Underwing is important for its survival (Relax J-mac it’s not Biston). This is as obvious as the wheels of a car to me. Probably you think this is testimony of its “exquisite design”. Yet you are telling me I cannot determine that the color pattern is important until I completely understand the complete phenotype. That doesn’t sound reasonable at all.

  2. And since you have ducked the question for the second time, encore:
    How can you tell whether something is designed or adaptive, if the phenotype is unknowable?

  3. Corneel,

    I’d guess that J-Mac never goes outside of his/her room. I’ve seen those kinds of insects on trunks myself. Nothing staged about them. These people assume that if something is in an anti-evolution book, like “those photos were staged!” that automatically makes every example of mimicry into staged photos, even the ones they could observe themselves if only they took a walk around the park and looked.

  4. Entropy: I’d guess that J-Mac never goes outside of his/her room.

    Haha, isn’t that rich? I am not much of a field biologist, but even I recognised the moth in the picture as an “uiltje” (I believe you call them owlet moths). You are bound to disturb a few of them when working in your garden. Funny how J-Mac assumed that it must be the peppered moth (which belongs to a different family). Why does somebody with such evident disinterest in biology have such a strong opinion on evolutionary theory, I wonder?

  5. John Harshman,

    Your argument doesn’t work if it’s possible to assemble the pieces one by one, with some function resulting, even if flight only happens after the last piece is assembled.

    The argument works when the alternative is low probability speculation. Thats all we have seen from the counter arguments to Behe’s example: the bacterial flagellum.

    Well, yes. Microraptor gui, for example, is evidence that flight feathers arose before Archaeopteryx. But that isn’t even necessary to demolish your ideas. Flight feathers could have been the last addition that allowed flight.

    Low probability speculation rarely demolishes anything.

    Where do you get this information?

    From an academic paper out of China and Tiawan. Here is a picture of the Venn diagram from the paper.http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Venn-diagram-feather-TF.pdf

     Venn-diagram-feather-TF.pdf

  6. Corneel: You are bound to disturb a few of them when working in your garden. Funny how J-Mac assumed that it must be the peppered moth

    Which reminds me. The catterpillars of some species are actually garden pests, known as cutworms. While planting some flowers, I once dug up a pupa in my garden. With my kids, I put it in a glass jar with some soil to keep it moist and waited until the moth eclosed (it was a large yellow underwing Noctua pronuba). My kids loved that, so that might be a nice experiment for your kids as well, J-Mac. And as a bonus you will learn to recognise some moths yourself 😉

  7. colewd:
    John Harshman,

    The argument works when the alternative is low probability speculation.Thats all we have seen from the counter arguments to Behe’s example: the bacterial flagellum.

    Low probability speculation rarely demolishes anything.

    This is just you using “low probability speculation” as a universal insult. You aren’t responding at all to the point that the separate existence of all sorts of intermediate stages demolishes the IC argument against evolution.

    From an academic paper out of China and Tiawan.Here is a picture of the Venn diagram from the paper.http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Venn-diagram-feather-TF.pdf

    Interesting paper. Here’s the real citation. But I do not think it means what you think it means.

  8. John Harshman,

    You aren’t responding at all to the point that the separate existence of all sorts of intermediate stages demolishes the IC argument against evolution.

    Saying it demolishes it is your universal insult. You have not started to explain how it challenges it. You have not established the existence of any intermediate precursors to flight. Hollow bones in itself is not a precursor. Muscles that move photo wings are not precursors. Proto wings that cannot fly are not precursors. Non flight feathers are not precursors. Ground navigation is not a precursor. You need evidence of components that can fit together that can generate powered flight. Without a flying animal you cannot demonstrate that any of your precursors are real.

    Interesting paper. Here’s the real citation. But I do not think it means what you think it means.

    What do I think it means?

  9. colewd:
    Saying it demolishes it is your universal insult. You have not started to explain how it challenges it. You have not established the existence of any intermediate precursors to flight. Hollow bones in itself is not a precursor. Muscles that move photo wings are not precursors. Proto wings that cannot fly are not precursors. Non flight feathers are not precursors. Ground navigation is not a precursor. You need evidence of components that can fit together that can generate powered flight. Without a flying animal you cannot demonstrate that any of your precursors are real.

    Why the hell wouldn’t those be precursors? Do you think that precursor should be fully formed wings? Why? Don’t you really see that you’re being nonsensical?

  10. Entropy: Don’t you really see that you’re being nonsensical?

    No, I don’t believe he does. And perhaps this is why:

    Confabulation is a memory disturbance that is characterized by verbal statements or actions that inaccurately describe history, background, and present situations.[1] Confabulation is considered “honest lying,” but is distinct from lying because there is typically no intent to deceive and the individuals are unaware that their information is false.[2] Although patients can present blatantly false information (“fantastic confabulation”), confabulatory information can also be coherent, internally consistent, and relatively normal.[2] Individuals who confabulate are generally very confident about their recollections, despite evidence contradicting its truthfulness.[3] The most known causes of confabulation are traumatic and acquired (e.g., aneurysm, edema) brain damage, and psychiatric or psychological disorders (e.g., schizophrenia, bipolar, Alzheimer`s).

    http://psychology.wikia.com/wiki/Confabulation
    I believe that he believes what he is saying.

  11. colewd:
    John Harshman,

    Saying it demolishes it is your universal insult.

    I’ve noticed a tendency in you lately just to mirror what anyone says to you, whether mirroring makes sense or not. It doesn’t.

    You have not started to explain how it challenges it.You have not established the existence of any intermediate precursors to flight.Hollow bones in itself is not a precursor.Muscles that move photo wings are not precursors. Proto wings that cannot fly are not precursors.Non flight feathers are not precursors.Ground navigation is not a precursor.You need evidence of components that can fit together that can generate powered flight.Without a flying animal you cannot demonstrate that any of your precursors are real.

    Sorry, but I’m unable to make sense of that. You seem to be saying that nothing but flight is a precursor to flight, and that nothing can be a precursor to flight unless it’s found in a flying animal. Doesn’t that eliminate all possible precursors by definition? Now I would think that feathers are a pretty good precursor to fight feathers; the symmetrical feathers of Caudipteryx would make fine flight feathers except for their symmetry. You now reject hollow bones, though you previously had included them as one of the components of your IC flight apparatus. I truly don’t understand why muscles that move proto-wings aren’t a precursor to the same muscles moving wings in the same way. I don’t understand why proto-wings are not precursors to wings. The same components that are present in flightless theropods also appear in flying theropods with no modification or only slight modification. How can you say they aren’t precursors?

    What do I think it means?

    Stop playing your little games.

  12. Entropy,

    Why the hell wouldn’t those be precursors? Do you think that precursor should be fully formed wings? Why? Don’t you really see that you’re being nonsensical?

    Not with the proposed blind watchmaker mechanism. You are counting on serendipity to have all these components change in such a way as to create powered flight. Gliding is a long way from navigated powered flight. Being part of an irreducibly complex system of powered flight is not on the radar screen of these components as random mutations change them.

    Here is the number of genetic changes needed for a cell to be able to construct a feather. How would the blind watchmaker accomplish this?

    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Venn-diagram-feather-TF.pdf

  13. John Harshman,

    Sorry, but I’m unable to make sense of that. You seem to be saying that nothing but flight is a precursor to flight, and that nothing can be a precursor to flight unless it’s found in a flying animal. Doesn’t that eliminate all possible precursors by definition? Now I would think that feathers are a pretty good precursor to fight feathers; the symmetrical feathers of Caudipteryx would make fine flight feathers except for their symmetry. You now reject hollow bones, though you previously had included them as one of the components of your IC flight apparatus. I truly don’t understand why muscles that move proto-wings aren’t a precursor to the same muscles moving wings in the same way. I don’t understand why proto-wings are not precursors to wings. The same components that are present in flightless theropods also appear in flying theropods with no modification or only slight modification. How can you say they aren’t precursors?

    Because your proposed mechanism is blind and for all those components to create powered flight they all have to change together and in certain cases like bones and muscles create new novel structures that work together. Muscle cells do not control the change required in bone structure. A blind process will not do this without tremendous serendipity.

  14. You’d think that given the results are indistinguishable from actual evolution, colewd’s designer would just tweak the universe just a bit to allow actual evolution, just to get a bit of a rest.

  15. colewd: Because your proposed mechanism is blind and for all those components to create powered flight they all have to change together and in certain cases like bones and muscles create new novel structures that work together. Muscle cells do not control the change required in bone structure. A blind process will not do this without tremendous serendipity.

    Which changes in bones and muscles (and particularly what new novel structures) are you referring to here? I see no evidence of any new bone or muscle structures, and only slightly modifications from other closely related theropods, in Archaeopteryx. Since it’s entirely possible for both bones and muscles to be under selection at the same time, I don’t see the problem.

  16. John Harshman,

    Since it’s entirely possible for both bones and muscles to be under selection at the same time, I don’t see the problem.

    Selection is not the issue. It is making the coordinated change creating a reproductive advantage that allows selection to take place. You have independent cell types that all have to change in coordination but your theory says they are changed by independent blind unguided processes.

  17. coledwd,

    A blind process will not do this without tremendous serendipity.

    Perhaps the problem is your lack of appreciation of what billions of years actually amounts to in biological terms.

    But that’s entirely understandable. Even someone who has studied the area intensely, such as Dr Behe, can make mistakes in this arena.
    To wit:

    Q. And bringing it back to the prokaryotes. We’re in agreement here, the number of prokaryotes in 1 ton of soil are 7 orders of magnitude higher than the population, you said it would take 10 to the 8th generations to produce the disulfide bond?

    A (Behe). Yeah, certainly. Yeah, the bacteria are — can grow to very large population sizes.

    Q. So the time would be?

    A. Much shorter.

    Q. Much shorter?

    A. Absolutely.

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover/day12am.html

    So, I’d like to turn the question around. Given the number of mutations in each generation what are the chances that there would not be a mutation in two genes, once controlling muscles and the other bone?

    Care to speculate on how unlikely that is colewd?

  18. OMagain,

    So, I’d like to turn the question around. Given the number of mutations in each generation what are the chances that there would not be a mutation in two genes, once controlling muscles and the other bone?

    Care to speculate on how unlikely that is colewd?

    Are you claiming that powered flight was caused by single mutations to two genes? Did you look at how many unique genes are involves in feather construction?

  19. colewd:
    John Harshman,

    Selection is not the issue.It is making the coordinated change creating a reproductive advantage that allows selection to take place.You have independent cell types that all have to change in coordination but your theory says they are changed by independent blind unguided processes.

    No, over the short term they don’t have to change in coordination. A small change in, say, limb length makes a change in muscle strength advantageous, or a slight change in muscle strength makes a change in limb length advantageous. Rinse and repeat. Over the long term this results in coordination. Your idea only has force if changes must be both instantly large and simultaneous. The fact that you understand nothing about evolutionary theory really gets in your way.

  20. colewd: Are you claiming that powered flight was caused by single mutations to two genes? Did you look at how many unique genes are involves in feather construction?

    You have confused feather construction with flight. Feathers evolved long before flight, so most or all of the genes you are pointing to considerably predate flight and arose at different times. Further (if you read the paper you tried to cite), there’s a simple mechanism by which the various new genes arose: duplication and divergence. And I bet most of the transcription factors weren’t even new, just recruited into additional roles.

  21. colewd,

    but your theory says they are changed by independent blind unguided processes

    Whereas your theory says…..

  22. colewd,

    Focus colewd, I’m asking about those precursors you said are not precursors. That’s what I want to understand, why would they not be precursors, when they obviously look like preceding things. For example, when looking at the fossil record, I see flightless animals very similar to flying animals appearing in the fossil record later. Why would hollow bones in the flightless animals not represent potential precursors of the hollow bones in the flying animals? (And so on for the other features.)

  23. John Harshman: Once again, this amounts to a claim that if we don’t know everything we therefore know nothing and that if we can’t measure something with infinite precision we can’t measure it at all. All those things can be estimated from data, at least in some situations, to an accuracy sufficient todraw conclusions. Check out any issue of Evolution. Have you ever read a scientific paper?

    So you are replying with BS. Why don’t you answer the questions if you can? To make it easier, just give the 80/20 with whatever accuracy and precision you can. And no more links to dead ends.

  24. Entropy,

    I see flightless animals very similar to flying animals appearing in the fossil record later. Why would hollow bones in the flightless animals not represent potential precursors of the hollow bones in the flying animals? (And so on for the other features.)

    Flightless animals don’t have aerodynamic wings, feathers properly oriented, bones the right size and the proper joints etc. A precursor says there is a mechanism to get from the parts that look similar to flight and get them to actually fly. In this case you have many parts that need to work together and a mechanism driven by random gene duplication and other random change to the genome. Can you give me an explanation why you think this will do anything but breakdown functional sequences?

    There is no mechanism driving this random change toward navigated powered flight until you have powered flight.

    There is no way around the fact that the sequences that transcribe all these parts that allow powered flight come from intelligence. Again how would random change allow the sequences to form to produce a flight feather where almost 100 genes are involved?

  25. John Harshman,

    No, over the short term they don’t have to change in coordination. A small change in, say, limb length makes a change in muscle strength advantageous, or a slight change in muscle strength makes a change in limb length advantageous.

    You have no basis for this claim.

  26. colewd:

    Flightless animals don’t have aerodynamic wings, feathers properly oriented, bones the right size and the proper joints etc.

    Yes they do you *sweet honest Creationist cherub*

    Gradual Assembly of Avian Body Plan Culminated in Rapid Rates of Evolution across the Dinosaur-Bird Transition

    The fossil record is FULL of non-flying theropods with all the precursor part. All that had to happen was wing assisted incline running (WAIR) evolved into gliding evolved into longer and longer flapping glides evolved into primitive powered flight.

    Wing-assisted incline running and the evolution of flight.

    Right now you’re behaving like a *sweet petunia* who won’t eat his vegetables because he thinks they’re icky.

  27. John Harshman,

    You have confused feather construction with flight.

    You don’t think a similar change is going be required for a change in muscle construction to enable powered flight? How do you think unique muscle structures form? They require transcription regulation just like the feather does.

    How do you think new bone structures form that enable a proper wing structure and can create the same pattern over and over again?

    Further (if you read the paper you tried to cite), there’s a simple mechanism by which the various new genes arose: duplication and divergence. And I bet most of the transcription factors weren’t even new, just recruited into additional roles.

    Do you really think that is more than speculation based on circular reasoning?

    Duplication and divergence built a feather that just happened to enable all bird flight? This process started with scale and claw keratins and just by recruiting 50 transcription factor genes that by serendipity turned on and off DNA just at the right time. In addition to this duplicating genes with random mutation magically turned into a flight feather.
    John, this process that builds a flight feather is just like a 3D printer. It is designed.

  28. colewd:
    ?How do you think unique muscle structures form?

    They’re not unique muscle structures.

    Keep running from the evidence presented Billy. The summer Olympic sprints will be here in 2 years.

  29. colewd:

    Duplication and divergence built a feather that just happened to enable all bird flight?This process started with scale and claw keratins and just by recruiting 50 transcription factorgenes that by serendipity turned on and off DNA just at the right time. In addition to this duplicating genes with random mutation magically turned into a flight feather.

    Oh noes!!! More evidence for feather evolution!!

    Development, Regeneration, and Evolution of Feathers

    Abstract: The feather is a complex ectodermal organ with hierarchical branching patterns. It provides functions in endothermy, communication, and flight. Studies of feather growth, cycling, and health are of fundamental importance to avian biology and poultry science. In addition, feathers are an excellent model for morphogenesis studies because of their accessibility, and their distinct patterns can be used to assay the roles of specific molecular pathways. Here we review the progress in aspects of development, regeneration, and evolution during the past three decades. We cover the development of feather buds in chicken embryos, regenerative cycling of feather follicle stem cells, formation of barb branching patterns, emergence of intrafeather pigmentation patterns, interplay of hormones and feather growth, and the genetic identification of several feather variants. The discovery of feathered dinosaurs redefines the relationship between feathers and birds. Inspiration from biomaterials and flight research further fuels biomimetic potential of feathers as a multidisciplinary research focal point.

    DON’T LOOK AT IT BILLY!! It’s just more EVIL LIES FROM THE DEBBIL EVOLUTIONISTS!!

  30. colewd: Can you give me an explanation why you think this will do anything but breakdown functional sequences?

    Yes. It’s called natural selection. That will avoid breaking down (negative/purifying selection), and allow for the build up variety, and among the variants, some individuals get that advantage, etc.

  31. colewd: Again how would random change allow the sequences to form to produce a flight feather where almost 100 genes are involved?

    Quickly looking at the article from which the Venn diagram was copied, I notice that these are keratin-related genes, which have suffered lots of duplications. How hard do you think that a gene duplication could be? Also, aren’t you on the camp that claims that duplicated genes are not “new” information? If so, shouldn’t you say that there’s actually very few genes involved? Will you from now on accept that duplicated genes add information?

  32. Nonlin.org: So you are replying with BS. Why don’t you answer the questions if you can? To make it easier, just give the 80/20 with whatever accuracy and precision you can. And no more links to dead ends.

    I have no idea what you’re talking about in any of those sentences. What BS? What’s 80/20? What links?

  33. colewd:
    John Harshman,
    You have no basis for this claim.

    Sure I do. First, it’s what we observe: gradual change. Second, it ought to be obvious that it would be advantageous to for different parts to remain compatible, so if one changes, that would provide an advantage for the other to change.

    ,
    You don’t think a similar change is going be required for a change in muscle construction to enable powered flight?How do you think unique muscle structures form?They require transcription regulation just like the feather does.

    What are you trying to say there? What if anything does it have to do with feather evolution?

    How do you think new bone structures form that enable a proper wing structure and can create the same pattern over and over again?

    What new bone structures? Archaeopteryx has no bone structures that aren’t found in other coelurosaurs.

    Do you really think that is more than speculation based on circular reasoning?

    Yes. Yes, I do. But you have to agree that there can be such a thing as evidence for common descent (of paralogous genes this time, not species), which I suppose you reject. I can’t think of a rational reason to reject it, and you haven’t been able to explain.

    Duplication and divergence built a feather that just happened to enable all bird flight?

    Yes. “Just happened” does happen all the time. It’s called “pre-adaptation” in the literature, and “exaptation” once it happens. Only those species in a position close to X can get to X. There are thousands of examples of pre-adaptation in the literature, as well as of twisting and fortuitous paths from one place to another. One of my favorites would be the evolution of the mammalian middle ear, starting with supports for a filter-feeding apparatus, then turning into jaws and then into ears.

    This process started with scale and claw keratins and just by recruiting 50 transcription factorgenes that by serendipity turned on and off DNA just at the right time. In addition to this duplicating genes with random mutation magically turned into a flight feather.

    No magic. Most duplicated genes have no function and are deleted or never rise to high frequency in the first place. A few acquire function and are preserved. Natural selection acting on random mutation.

    John, this process that builds a flight feather is just like a 3D printer.It is designed.

    Odd sort of design that begins with a few genes that make scales, duplicates and slightly varies them, moves them into different genetic environments, and assembles them over the course of millions of years, mostly long before there were any flight feathers at all. What evidence can you present for your contention. I think I’ve presented plenty for mine, including the paper you tried unsuccessfully to cite.

  34. Entropy: Just because you say so? You have no grounds to demand answers, you have no background to understand answers, you have deep conceptual problems, you’re mentally immature, and you’re probably just some kid in the net.

    Natural selection is a concept the refers to actual phenomena.

    See? I have at least as much authority to make a claim as you. The only way to resolve the conflict would require you to be able to understand your mistakes, but you’re too arrogant and mentally immature to even recognize that you just might have made mistakes. Therefore there’s no way to communicate with you.

    Have a nice life. Come back if/when you grow up.

    The question was addressed to those that want to have an intelligent conversation. You are not the target audience.

  35. Adapa: The fossil record is FULL of non-flying theropods with all the precursor part. All that had to happen was wing assisted incline running (WAIR) evolved into gliding evolved into longer and longer flapping glides evolved into primitive powered flight.

    There are in fact at least two credible paths to flight through gradual change. WAIR is a part, but the path from parachuting to gliding to flight is largely independent. Then again, they fit together: WAIR to get into trees, parachuting to get out. WAIR introduces flapping, parachuting introduces broad surfaces, gliding introduces lift, all facilitated by the pre-adaptation of feathers, which I hypothesize originally evolved as sensory elements (vibrissae), then were co-opted as a body covering for insulation and display, and only finally for the purposes above. No irreducible complexity need apply.

  36. Nonlin.org: The question was addressed to those that want to have an intelligent conversation. You are not the target audience.

    You disqualified yourself when you posted the OP.

  37. John Harshman: There are in fact at least two credible paths to flight through gradual change. WAIR is a part, but the path from parachuting to gliding to flight is largely independent. Then again, they fit together: WAIR to get into trees, parachuting to get out. WAIR introduces flapping, parachuting introduces broad surfaces, gliding introduces lift, all facilitated by the pre-adaptation of feathers, which I hypothesize originally evolved as sensory elements (vibrissae), then were co-opted as a body covering for insulation and display, and only finally for the purposes above. No irreducible complexity need apply.

    Yep. The “ground up” and “trees down” hypotheses developed as two separate ideas for the origin of flight but the combination of the two now seems much more likely.

  38. Corneel: You must agree we can’t say anything about how and why a car moves.

    Say what? Yes cars are precisely designed and tested. Yes we do know what happens if the spark plug fails. Yes, they think of every little detail when designing those cars. And yet no one claims “fitness” for the cars. Why? because “fitness” is nonsense. Also the phenotype of the car is known an mostly static (except the fluid levels). Bad example. We do know “how and why a car moves”.

  39. Nonlin.org: Say what? Yes cars are precisely designed and tested. Yes we do know what happens if the spark plug fails. Yes, they think of every little detail when designing those cars. And yet no one claims “fitness” for the cars. Why? because “fitness” is nonsense. Also the phenotype of the car is known and mostly static (except the fluid levels). Bad example. We do know “how and why a car moves”.

  40. Entropy,

    How hard do you think that a gene duplication could be? Also, aren’t you on the camp that claims that duplicated genes are not “new” information? If so, shouldn’t you say that there’s actually very few genes involved? Will you from now on accept that duplicated genes add information?

    I would agree that gene duplication could add genetic diversity but there are problems that duplications can cause. It has the potential to add information but this is yet to be established as a reliable way to add information.

    Whether the genes identified in the paper are by duplication or design is not understood. I am skeptical of the amount of gene duplication they are claiming. What we don’t know from the paper is all the TF’s that are involved in feather manufacturing.

    I think the bigger issue is how rapidly a gene will break down due to mutation. If you claim rapid purifying selection then you limit variation. If you don’t then the sequence will rapidly degrade with a very rare possibility of natural selection. I think gene duplication plus mutation is a very poor theory since it requires the goldilocks scenario: too much purifying selection or alternatively finding advantage before the sequence breaks down. The odds are stacked against a good result.

  41. Corneel:
    And since you have ducked the question for the second time, encore:
    How can you tell whether something is designed or adaptive, if the phenotype is unknowable?

    Adaptive is not the opposite of design. We do design devices to be as adaptive as possible.

  42. colewd:
    .I think gene duplication plus mutation is a very poor theory since it requires the goldilocks scenario: too much purifying selection or alternatively finding advantage before the sequence breaks down.

    You think everything about evolutionary biology is poor since you don’t understand a single thing about it. All you know is it threatens your religious indoctrination so somehow someway it must be wrong.

  43. John Harshman: I have no idea what you’re talking about in any of those sentences. What BS? What’s 80/20? What links?

    You’re not answering the questions, nor are you hand typing: “There is no such thing as Natural Selection!”
    You don’t know what 80/20 is?!? Embarrassing, especially for those with internet access. Hint: Pareto. One of your “arguments” was a dead end link – a waste of time link that didn’t answer anything. Don’t do it – its unprofessional.

    For some reason they won’t publish my reply to your other comment. So here it is:

    Quit being such a whiny prima-donna. In my experience, people complaining about this, “not understanding” that, recommending the other, asking silly questions, assuming, etc. do it because they don’t have solid arguments.

    1. What individual? You don’t know your own dogma? “Natural selection” is not about the individual. For a population, survival is reproductive success.
    2. Fine. Don’t answer if “not your claim”.
    3. Really? Zebra’s survival (pardon me: “reproductive success”) hinges on its stripes?!? Only on its stripes? Curious since they don’t even know the role of those stripes.
    4. No, I am not saying “fitness depends on environment”. I am saying “no such thing as fitness”… and not on phenotype either: “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. As shown, all these different organisms may or may not survive regardless of their phenotype. “
    5. For the species? “Reproductive success is defined as the passing of genes onto the next generation in a way that they too can pass on those genes.” Only possible if the species survives. Reverse is also true.
    6. Aren’t you forgetting something? In what environment? See 4. example
    7. I know that “ape to human” as proposed by Darwinistas is a pipe dream: http://nonlin.org/human-evolution/ . We’re also 69% rats and 50% bananas according to the DNA but DNA is not what you think: http://nonlin.org/dna-not-essence-of-life/ .
    8. Have you considered that it’s only your imagination running wild? Also, who cares? Scientific method is not imagination. We need proof. Experiments clearly show that selection does not design, is limited in scope to a few available characteristics, and is reversed as soon as the selection pressure ends.
    9. Why should I care that you do astrology? Don’t just send me to a dead end link as substitute for an argument. What I think happens instead is not the issue – we’re debating “natural selection”. Stay on topic.
    10. Google: Deleterious = damaging; Flawed = damaged. They go together.
    11. “Phylogenetic analysis” presupposes “evolution”. Can’t use it to demonstrate transmutation aka “evolution”. Circular logic. Deep time = hocus pocus
    12. The only provable experience with new designs is human design. Did you test “Antibiotic-resistance is a reversible adaptation “? Aren’t we just as natural as the ape and banana? And it doesn’t matter – if “natural selection” worked, we would just apply it anyway. But it doesn’t.
    13. Forget fossils. The fossil record lends no support for Darwinian evolution because: it is sketchy at best inviting proponents to make whatever desired of it via artistic license, it is static hence one must presume evolution to see evolutionary links (the animation movie), and fossils are not positively linked to one another hence likely part of other animation movies altogether. Alternative hypotheses such as “independent development” (aka Convergent Evolution) and “directed development” (aka Intelligent Design) would have yielded the same fossil record without confirming the Darwinist model of evolution. Did I say anything about bumblebees?!?

  44. Nonlin.org: You’re not answering the questions,

    You didn’t ask any intelligible questions. You did produce enough word salad to feed a small country though.

  45. Adapa: The question was addressed to those that want to have an intelligent conversation. You are not the target audience.

    Don’t worry. You are not the target audience either.

  46. Nonlin.org: Don’t worry. You are not the target audience either.

    Good luck finding an audience with an IQ lower than room temperature, Celsius. Try UncommonDescent and AnswersInGenesis. They seem to be about your intellectual caliber.

  47. John Harshman,

    Sure I do. First, it’s what we observe: gradual change. Second, it ought to be obvious that it would be advantageous to for different parts to remain compatible, so if one changes, that would provide an advantage for the other to change.

    ,
    You don’t think a similar change is going be required for a change in muscle construction to enable powered flight?How do you think unique muscle structures form?They require transcription regulation just like the feather does.

    What are you trying to say there? What if anything does it have to do with feather evolution?

    The feather paper shows us that new structures require new regulatory elements. New regulatory elements require genetic change that is very poorly explained by the blind watchmaker. A wing that can support flight requires a large series of regulatory changes not limited to the construction of feathers. The mechanism must produce a group of different feathers that make up the wing structure. These represent large genetic changes from non flying animals.

    Yes. “Just happened” does happen all the time. It’s called “pre-adaptation” in the literature, and “exaptation” once it happens. Only those species in a position close to X can get to X.

    Yet you have not observed this process. You are assuming it happened.

    No magic. Most duplicated genes have no function and are deleted or never rise to high frequency in the first place. A few acquire function and are preserved. Natural selection acting on random mutation.

    Again, a story without evidence or feasibility.

    There are in fact at least two credible paths to flight through gradual change. WAIR is a part, but the path from parachuting to gliding to flight is largely independent. Then again, they fit together: WAIR to get into trees, parachuting to get out. WAIR introduces flapping, parachuting introduces broad surfaces, gliding introduces lift, all facilitated by the pre-adaptation of feathers, which I hypothesize originally evolved as sensory elements (vibrissae), then were co-opted as a body covering for insulation and display, and only finally for the purposes above. No irreducible complexity need apply.

    Again, a story that ignores the genetic changes required to achieve navigated powered flight. The flight wing is irreducibly complex starting with bone shape and structure, muscle shape and structure, neurological control , multiple feather types and navigation. All these require coordinated genetic changes of which the blind watchmaker provides no direction.

    The origin of flight is very strong evidence of intelligent design. So is the origin of the flight feather.

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