REAL WEASEL Family of Genetic Algorithms

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.

106 thoughts on “REAL WEASEL Family of Genetic Algorithms

  1. J-Mac: One can perform a similar experiment with a lowly dandelion…

    One perhaps might, but one thing is guaranteed and that is that you cannot.

  2. 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?

  3. J-Mac: One can perform a similar experiment with a lowly dandelion…
    Just cut a few of them in half and plant one half in the shady, not well nourished desert or clay soil backyard like mine and another half in s high, sunny, well nourishes mountain…
    Amazing differences can be observed between the two halves of the same dandelion -size, color, flower, leafs – just withing few months…

    What could be responsible for such drastic changes of a lowly dandelion with the same DNA so quickly? Can anyone guess??? 😉

    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?

  4. T_aquaticus:
    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?

    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:

  5. stcordova: 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?

  6. stcordova:
    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:

    [image about “elimination of species”]

    Given Salvador’s illiteracy I should not be surprised that he doesn’t know what the word success means.

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