Home » Darwinism, Intelligent Design » Now that we have got to “pre-selection”, even Darwinians must be wondering …

Now that we have got to “pre-selection”, even Darwinians must be wondering …

In “Evolution by Mistake: Major Driving Force Comes from How Organisms Cope With Errors at Cellular Level” ScienceDaily (Jan. 26, 2011), Joanna Masel and Etienne Rajon posit “pre-selection” by error in order to explain how natural selection works its Darwinian wonders:

In nature, it turns out, many new traits that, for example, enable their bearers to conquer new habitats, start out as blunders: mistakes made by cells that result in altered proteins with changed properties or functions that are new altogether, even when there is nothing wrong with the gene itself. Sometime later, one of these mistakes can get into the gene and become more permanent.

“If the mechanisms interpreting genetic information were completely flawless, organisms would stay the same all the time and be unable to adapt to new situations or changes in their environment,” said Masel, who is also a member of the UA’s BIO5 Institute.

Living beings face two options of handling the dangers posed by errors, Masel and Rajon wrote. One is to avoid making errors in the first place, for example by having a proofreading mechanism to spot and fix errors as they arise. The authors call this a global solution, since it is not specific to any particular mistake, but instead watches over the entire process.

The alternative is to allow errors to happen, but evolve robustness to the effects of each of them. Masel and Rajon call this strategy a local solution, because in the absence of a global proofreading mechanism, it requires an organism to be resilient to each and every mistake that pops up.

Offhand, this sounds a lot like design. Would anyone like to calculate the probability of such a process forming by Darwinian means (natural selection acting on random mutation)?

The authors are faithful Darwinists, and true to form, Masel has advice for the world, based on her work:

“We find that biology has a clever solution. It lets lots of ideas flourish, but only in a cryptic form and even while it’s cryptic, it weeds out the worst ideas. This is an extremely powerful and successful strategy. I think companies, governments, economics in general can learn a lot on how to foster innovation from understanding how biological innovation works.”

Well, when I was a textbook editor, we weeded out the errors before the manuscript was published as a book, instead of trusting the reader to find them. We didn’t call it evolution, we called it production.

David Coppedge comments here, noting that the cost to a cell of accumulating a lot of junk would be fairly high, cautioning that what the popular science press made of the story isn’t really in the paper (breaking news, breaking news … ). Here’s the paper.

To a bystander, it’s increasingly obvious that convolutions like “pre-selection” to protect Darwinism resemble the constant little adjustments (epicycles) that had to be made to Ptolemy’s Earth-centered model of the solar system. Copernicus recognized that, considered globally, they were making the problem more and more obvious, and a different orientation was called for. Astronomers pretended to the public that everything was normal, and it was very dangerous to dissent. Sound familiar?
Dava Sobel’s book, Galileo’s Daughter, gives a good picture of that era.

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9 Responses to Now that we have got to “pre-selection”, even Darwinians must be wondering …

  1. semi OT:

    DNA Caught Rock ‘N Rollin’: On Rare Occasions DNA Dances Itself Into a Different Shape – January 2011
    Excerpt: Because critical interactions between DNA and proteins are thought to be directed by both the sequence of bases and the flexing of the molecule, these excited states represent a whole new level of information contained in the genetic code,
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....104244.htm

    supplemental note:

    “In the last ten years, at least 20 different natural information codes were discovered in life, each operating to arbitrary conventions (not determined by law or physicality). Examples include protein address codes [Ber08B], acetylation codes [Kni06], RNA codes [Fai07], metabolic codes [Bru07], cytoskeleton codes [Gim08], histone codes [Jen01], and alternative splicing codes [Bar10].
    Donald E. Johnson – Programming of Life – pg.51 – 2010

    DNA – Evolution Vs. Polyfuctionality – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4614519/

    DNA – Poly-Functional Complexity equals Poly-Constrained Complexity
    http://docs.google.com/Doc?doc.....Zmd2emZncQ

  2. Offhand, this sounds a lot like design.

    It really does, doesn’t it.

    To a bystander, it’s increasingly obvious that convolutions like “pre-selection” to protect Darwinism resemble the constant little adjustments (epicycles) that had to be made to Ptolemy’s Earth-centered model of the solar system.

    Or perhaps evolution is evolving to something very unlike what it’s been billed as for so long.

    Who knows. In a decade or two, maybe evolution will be billed as an ID theory itself by current ID detractors.

  3. To me it is simply inconceivable that supposedly rational men could maintain that Darwinian evolution (filtered errors) put together the most MASSIVELY parallel encoded system known to man. The level of sophistication of the parallel information encoded in life easily surpasses the highest ambitions of our best teams of programmers, much less their actual abilities for programming.

    Welcome to CoSBi – (Computational and Systems Biology)
    Excerpt: Biological systems are the most parallel systems ever studied and we hope to use our better understanding of how living systems handle information to design new computational paradigms, programming languages and software development environments. The net result would be the design and implementation of better applications firmly grounded on new computational, massively parallel paradigms in many different areas.
    http://www.cosbi.eu/index.php/.....rticle/171

  4. The creationsafaris take on the whole thing is interesting. I’d throw this out.

    What seems central here is the claim that what’s going on is “mistakes” and “errors”. But either that language is meant to be taken seriously (and thus there are goals, real goals, at work in the evolutionary process – you can’t make mistakes without goals. But if there are goals, now how do we know that these are “mistakes”? Either way, you’re dealing with teleology), or figuratively (in which case there are no goals, but also no mistakes, present in the process. But then how to make sense of what’s being discussed, other than handwaving it away? Why deal with this language to begin with?)

    Maybe part of the problem is taking these operations to be “mistakes”. Are these really mistakes? Or are they programs, doing what they were meant – even programmed – to do? Is it still a “mistake” even when a successful solution is found? (Consider an episode of Wheel of Fortune. At least there we’re definitely dealing with goals – people trying to solve a puzzle, initially by guessing letters, and thus they do make mistakes. But when someone successfully solves the puzzle, is their solution a mistake?)

    Perhaps the “mistakes” and “errors” in a natural context aren’t really mistakes and errors many times. Or most times. Perhaps even “ever”.

  5. Isn’t it fascinating that no matter the length of a genome, the “error rate” is always one order of magnitude less?

    Did this just happen by chance? I don’t think so.

    What’s the implication? The implication is that DNA is programmed to have a certain error level which ends up being a balance of excessive deleterious mutations and exceptional beneficial mutations.

    It’s quite common in organisms to have places where “error-correction” can be turned off. The overall impression is that what we see in organisms is layered programming that, when confronted with environmental stress of whatever type, loosens its control of replication accuracy so as to “find” a solution. This is the kind of thing an engineer might design. But pure chance? Does pure chance understand when it is profitable to lessen a control that otherwise is essential for its continued existence?

    This is why I have at times argued here that I place almost no credence even in NS + mutations because to my way of understanding things what Darwin called NS is no more than the adaptive capacity of organisms—a capacity that is “designed in”, not the result of chance operations.

    Does anyone here remember where NS came from?

    That’s right: it came from “artificial selection”, the ability to drive organisms in certain directions. Now did human beings bring about this adaptive capacity or simply take advantage of it? Likewise, NS is simply the interplay between organisms and environment that is ultimately dependent on cellular capabilities, capabilities that exhibit the hallmarks of design.

    Anyway: to those who have ears, listen.

  6. Natural selection is an oxymoron as nature doesn’t select.

    As for mistakes/ errors, the way evolutionists do it is they have determined the “goal” is to replicate the DNA with 100% fidelity and therefor anything other than that would be a mistake/ error.

    From the “Contemporary Discourse in the Field Of Biology” series I read Biological Evolution: An Anthology of Current Though, edited by Katy Human). This is part of a reviewed series expressing the current scientific consensus.

    The old, discredited equation of evolution with progress has been largely superseded by the almost whimsical notion that evolution requires mistakes to bring about specieswide adaptation. Natural selection requires variation, and variation requires mutations- those accidental deletions or additions of material deep within the DNA of our cells. In an increasingly slick, fast-paced, automated, impersonal world, one in which we are constantly being reminded of the narrow margin for error, it is refreshing to be reminded that mistakes are a powerful and necessary creative force. A few important but subtle “mistakes,” in evolutionary terms, may save the human race. -page 10 ending the intro

  7. Joseph,

    As for mistakes/ errors, the way evolutionists do it is they have determined the “goal” is to replicate the DNA with 100% fidelity and therefor anything other than that would be a mistake/ error.

    Bingo. And it’s complete hogwash. Spin. You may as well say that a game of Nethack is poorly designed because it fails to create an exact duplicate of the dungeon layout each time you run it. Crazy bug, that – they should really fix it.

  8. This paper is relevant:

    A comparative approach for the investigation of biological information processing: An examination of the structure and function of computer hard drives and DNA – David J D’Onofrio1, Gary An – Jan. 2010
    Excerpt: It is also important to note that attempting to reprogram a cell’s operations by manipulating its components (mutations) is akin to attempting to reprogram a computer by manipulating the bits on the hard drive without fully understanding the context of the operating system. (T)he idea of redirecting cellular behavior by manipulating molecular switches may be fundamentally flawed; that concept is predicated on a simplistic view of cellular computing and control. Rather, (it) may be more fruitful to attempt to manipulate cells by changing their external inputs: in general, the majority of daily functions of a computer are achieved not through reprogramming, but rather the varied inputs the computer receives through its user interface and connections to other machines.
    http://www.tbiomed.com/content/7/1/3

  9. And of course, Abel’s Null Hypothesis is relevant:

    The Law of Physicodynamic Insufficiency – Dr David L. Abel – November 2010
    Excerpt: “If decision-node programming selections are made randomly or by law rather than with purposeful intent, no non-trivial (sophisticated) function will spontaneously arise.”,,, After ten years of continual republication of the null hypothesis with appeals for falsification, no falsification has been provided. The time has come to extend this null hypothesis into a formal scientific prediction: “No non trivial algorithmic/computational utility will ever arise from chance and/or necessity alone.”
    http://www.scitopics.com/The_L.....iency.html

    The GS (genetic selection) Principle – David L. Abel – 2009
    Excerpt: Stunningly, information has been shown not to increase in the coding regions of DNA with evolution. Mutations do not produce increased information. Mira et al (65) showed that the amount of coding in DNA actually decreases with evolution of bacterial genomes, not increases. This paper parallels Petrov’s papers starting with (66) showing a net DNA loss with Drosophila evolution (67). Konopka (68) found strong evidence against the contention of Subba Rao et al (69, 70) that information increases with mutations. The information content of the coding regions in DNA does not tend to increase with evolution as hypothesized. Konopka also found Shannon complexity not to be a suitable indicator of evolutionary progress over a wide range of evolving genes. Konopka’s work applies Shannon theory to known functional text. Kok et al. (71) also found that information does not increase in DNA with evolution. As with Konopka, this finding is in the context of the change in mere Shannon uncertainty. The latter is a far more forgiving definition of information than that required for prescriptive information (PI) (21, 22, 33, 72). It is all the more significant that mutations do not program increased PI. Prescriptive information either instructs or directly produces formal function. No increase in Shannon or Prescriptive information occurs in duplication. What the above papers show is that not even variation of the duplication produces new information, not even Shannon “information.”
    http://www.scitopics.com/The_G.....ciple.html

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