Weasel and other genetic algorithms have been falsely advertised as proof of concept of Darwinian evolution in nature. Use of the term “natural selection” is false advertising because what Darwin and evolutionary biologists claim is natural is actually NOT natural.
I had an offline exchange with EricMH as I’m thinking of contributing to the Blyth Communication journal regarding computational models to highlight Darwin’s false advertising of what natural selection is really capable of doing. Whether my ideas end up in the Blyth journal is a separate issue from the ideas themselves. I’m hoping EricMH will weigh in with some ideas too.
EricMH suggested some other ideas offline, and I asked if it would be ok with him to discuss this at TSZ to get editorial feedback. I suggested we avoid use of CSI but instead using things like common sense to dismantle Avida, Weasel, Tierra, and other GA’s used as “evidence” that natural selection actually provided the complexity we see in biology today
Bill Dembski attempted to do the what I’m trying to do with pure math, but I instead decided to use common sense.
I hope to post some ideas here in this OP, but also in the comment section. If people object to the simplicity of the models, they’ll have to justify why my models are less valid than their GA’s or computer models like Avida, Tierra, Weasel or whatever. The point is to highlight the absurdity of assuming that because something is a called a “GA” that it actually models the physical genetic “algorithms” in nature or that there is no need of miracles to make evolution happen.
So for starters, here are some ideas:
Frozen in Space Weasel — there is no requirement in nature that an organism be provided temperatures and atmospheric pressures appropriate for life and genetic inheritance to take place. In fact, MOST of the universe is inhospitable, and for that matter, it takes fine tuning for life to emerge. It certainly is NOT natural (in the sense of expectation from first principles) that life should be sustainable. It is an exceptional event. Why should we assume a GA will run naturally?
DOA Weasel — well, without the origin of life, there is no Genetic Algorithm in real life. Evolutionary theory, as always, needs a miracle to make it work, and in this case a miracle to even get it started.
Global Warming Weasel — because of the Faint Young Sun Paradox, the Earth should have been a frozen ice ball till now, and there shouldn’t have even been a Cambrian explosion. Supposedly green house gases were miraculously fine tuned to allow just the right amount of global warming to counter balance the Faint Young Sun. The global warming gases miraculously diminished just at the right time and in the right amounts over billions of years to enable habitable temperatures to enable life to evolve. As usual, evolution needs a miracle to make it work.
See: The Young Faint Sun Paradox
Devolving Weasel — this weasel gets simpler and simpler as natural selection destroys its complexity. It is even LESS likely than random chance to arrive at the magic phrase, “methinks it is like a weasel.” This seems the natural direction of evolution, not toward complexity. Thus again, evolution needs a miracle to make it work, because selection toward extravagance and complexity from a starting point of simplicity is not indicated by theory nor experiment. Thus evolution again needs miracles to make it work.
Thwarted by IC Weasel — This is a weasel that can’t evolve because irreducibly complex systems don’t provide a feedback path, or worse, a NEGATIVE feedback path toward evolving complexity. To quote Michael Lynch, ” many genomic features could not have emerged without a near-complete disengagement of the power of natural selection.” I had a conversation with Robert Marks about this, but then we ran out of time to finish out the idea…
Endagnered species Weasel — this weasel dies out BECAUSE natural selection as its habitat is taken away by other creatures. So, for natural selection to enable diversity, natural selection has to be absent!
So we may add a few more ideas, and then Python code, or whatever code to illustrate these ideas.
It would probably help, imho, if some humorous sounds and vizualizations were added to the python code to drive the point home with the above algorithms. The point is to mock the absurdity of using GAs as some sort of evidence in favor of Darwinian evolution in nature. Bill Dembski attempted this in several publications including No Free Lunch using piles math. But I feel a more common sense approach will resonate with a general audience as well as a scientific audience.
Because I feel these ideas more appropriate reflect the reality of how miraculously natural selection must work in order to evolve complexity, and to mock programs like Avida, Tierra, Weasel, I call these the REAL WEASEL family of Genetic Algorithms.
One perhaps might, but one thing is guaranteed and that is that you cannot.
The knots ID/creationists tie themselves into trying to deny the existence of differential reproduction is both sad and entertaining. It’s like watching America’s Funniest Home Videos where you don’t know if you should feel bad for the guy who got hit in the crotch, or show it to your co-workers for a good laugh.
Seriously? Who thinks genetics does not affect how many grandkids an organism will have in a population?
Yes, it’s phenotypic plasticity. Nonlin wrote an OP on it a while ago. I recommend you read the comment thread.
Question: Could you get varieties of cabbage to resemble each other merely by changing the growth conditions, do you think? If not, why not?
My irony meter just blew, you’re just exactly illustrating the misunderstanding of what differential reproductive success actually leads to. Maybe you need a reminder:
Have you never heard of mutations?
Given Salvador’s illiteracy I should not be surprised that he doesn’t know what the word success means.
My ignore of you was accidentally off for some reason and that allowed me to see this comment which I missed about a month ago.
Before I put you back on ignore, let me say. I love all the attention you’re showering me with, but it’s getting kind of kreepy, so I’m putting you on ignore. Go stalk someone else, Ok, pumpkin. Hugs.
From Dawkins himself regarding his Weasel program:
Well, in defense of Darwinsits, I’ll say the number isn’t THAT remote. 20^146 (for 146 in the Beta poplypeptide) is about 10^190. A GUESStimate based on conserved residues in the globin fold is about 16% of the 146 residues, so maybe 22 residues, and tack on maybe another 10 or 20 for forming the interace connections that create the flexible quaternary structure. Maybe the equivalent of 40 resides then that are critical. That is to say, sure one residue could be deleted, but some compensating change has to be made. There are geometric considerations in as much as Iron has definite size and so the fold has to connect to iron (actually the Heme group:
But making a functioning hemoglobin is more than just making a protein. One needs erythrocytes (blood cell types) to make the vertabrate hemoglobin possible. And with respect to the hemoglobin Dawkins is talking about, this is vertebrate hemoglobin. There are only hemoglobin type proteins in other creatures including plants.
One might argue cumulative selection where the stages are globin, myoglobin, hemoglobin.
So maybe one could at best say, the transition from myoglobin to hemoglobin is unlikely in small steps of 1-amino acid at a time, say maybe at best a combination of 15 all at once to transition the monomeric (1 polypeptide form) to the hetero tetrameric form involving 2-alpha forms and 2-beta forms described here:
So cumulative at best would be a terraced and jagged climb from a random peptide to a globin to a myoglobin to a vertebrate hemoglobin. It’s not as outrageous as the remote number Darwkins gave of 10^190, but not quite as easy as his Weasel program would make it as it would be a mostly random search for strings of amino acids that would make the quaternary structure of vetebrate hemoglobin possible.