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Survival of the Fittest: It Takes Two to Tango!

A rather comprehensive study of the European vole has concluded that it is hard to know how “fit” genes gain predominance in a population because of what they term “sexual antagonism.” It turns out that when dominant males mate with females, the females that pass on the dominant gene have smaller litter sizes, while the females not passing on the dominant gene have larger litter size.

Here’s what one of the authors had to say:

“With sexual antagonism such as this, it’s sometimes hard to understand how different genes are maintained in the reproductive process, because if the beneficial effect is much stronger in one sex, one would assume that only the gene with best overall success should be maintained,” said Mr Lehtonen.

And, while scratching their heads, the authors tell us:

The research found that, although genes that were maladaptive for one sex were to some extent carried through to the next generation by its more successful opposite-sex siblings, the disparity in the genes’ effects for the two sexes was so strong that this would be unlikely to maintain genetic variance by itself.
The researchers also found that the dominant gene was only beneficial for males when it was rare in the population, a process known as negative frequency dependence. It is this frequency dependent effect that helped maintain genetic diversity in their study system.

Diversity? What about positive selection? What about directional selection?
Do Darwinists have any idea whatsoever what “fitness” means? One wonders.

Another day; another bad day for Darwinism!

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16 Responses to Survival of the Fittest: It Takes Two to Tango!

  1. The research found that, although genes that were maladaptive for one sex were to some extent carried through to the next generation by its more successful opposite-sex siblings, the disparity in the genes’ effects for the two sexes was so strong that this would be unlikely to maintain genetic variance by itself.

    The researchers also found that the dominant gene was only beneficial for males when it was rare in the population, a process known as negative frequency dependence. It is this frequency dependent effect that helped maintain genetic diversity in their study system.

    The Designer certainly has His work cut out for Him, trying to steer toward utility.

  2. No, She doesn’t. Her GAs do that for Her

  3. “Diversity? What about positive selection? What about directional selection?
    Do Darwinists have any idea whatsoever what “fitness” means? One wonders.
    Another day; another bad day for Darwinism!”

    –I don’t understand what you see as a problem here. Is it the negative frequency dependence?

  4. The problem is that Darwinists have no idea of what “fitness” is. Plain and simple.

    Vocabulary is not a substitute for causal mechanisms. That is, what is “thought” to be beneficial—a tendency to be dominant, coupled with the fact that this brings about more opportunities to procreate—doesn’t lead to the spread of that gene in the population because other factors are apparently at play.

    So, we don’t have a gene sweeping through a population and getting fixed; instead, we get “genetic diversity”. This is Darwinism stood on its head.

    And, then, you respond: “I don’t understand what you see as a problem here.” IOW, Darwinism, let’s just admit it, is unfalsifiable—at least in the minds of Darwinists.

  5. The problem is that Darwinists have no idea of what “fitness” is. Plain and simple.

    Because the fitness of a particular behavior can be dependent on its frequency in a population, Darwinists have no idea what fitness is?

    Perhaps that’s “plain and simple” to you, but I find that to be one of the most confusing and opaque ideas I’ve heard in a while. :-)

    Vocabulary is not a substitute for causal mechanisms. That is, what is “thought” to be beneficial—a tendency to be dominant, coupled with the fact that this brings about more opportunities to procreate—doesn’t lead to the spread of that gene in the population because other factors are apparently at play.”

    Yeah, what is beneficial does tend to become more prevalent, but in this case the trait that is beneficial is only beneficial when it’s in the minority. This phenomenon has been observed in populations at least since the time of Darwin, and probably long before. But this is the first time I’ve ever heard anyone think that it was a problem for Darwinism.

    The above article is an example of an “evolutionary stable strategy”. Where two or more traits in a population are only fit when at a certain relative frequency, and so the population always tends to keep that relative frequency.

    Reading the above article reminded me of Dawkins’ “Selfish Gene”, where he often discusses this. In fact, he gave a hypothetical example of an evolutionary stable strategy (pgs 69-71) which looks very close to the one in the above article. Dawkins talks about a population of “hawks” (aggressors) and “doves” (which are passive) and even worked out the math of how common the hawks and doves should be. It should be 5/12 doves to 7/12 hawks. It would be interesting to see what the relative abundance of the “hawks” to “doves” are in the population in the article, but I just remembered that the traits in the article are also involved in another phenomenon known as “sexual antagonism” – quite an interesting population of voles!

    So, we don’t have a gene sweeping through a population and getting fixed; instead, we get “genetic diversity”. This is Darwinism stood on its head.
    “And, then, you respond: “I don’t understand what you see as a problem here.” IOW, Darwinism, let’s just admit it, is unfalsifiable—at least in the minds of Darwinists.”

    –The trait spreads while it is fit, and when it is unfit, it stops spreading. If you’re convinced that that’s somehow undarwinian… well, umm, ok. :-)

  6. goodusername:

    Yeah, what is beneficial does tend to become more prevalent, but in this case the trait that is beneficial is only beneficial when it’s in the minority. This phenomenon has been observed in populations at least since the time of Darwin, and probably long before. But this is the first time I’ve ever heard anyone think that it was a problem for Darwinism.

    This is Orwellian thought. It’s Doublespeak: empty, hollow, “just-so” stories that make Darwinism unfalsifiable—and, therefore, not science. Darwinism is no more than just consensus thinking. However, I’m afraid the emperor has no clothes.

    Population genetics, at this point, is no more than navel-gazing—or am I being too blunt?! Even the evo-devo people say that the Modern Synthesis is dead. I don’t even follow it anymore.

  7. If we start with an optimal configuration space considered to be “fit” relative to the population.

    AND

    If we have a 1 in 3 chance (given a mutation can be beneficial, neutral or deleterious) that for each indiscriminate mutation considering type and location/position within this configuration space that can be considered beneficial (overall increases the overall “fitness”), it is easy to see that without an intelligent mechanism to guide the process (perhaps filter out mutations themselves that offset its optimality) relative fitness will decrease substantially, and the organism is subject to rapid extinction.
    The key is sustainability to itself (ie: mutational awareness feedback), if it doesn’t have that it has nothing.

    OR

    If we start with little to no function, no “optimality”, its much worse; both neutral and deleterious gets us nowhere. A 1 in 3 chance it will somewhat increase in fitness, and a 2 in 3 chance it will eliminate that same increase in fitness.

    So what does Darwinian Evolution have?

  8. This is Orwellian thought. It’s Doublespeak: empty, hollow, “just-so” stories that make Darwinism unfalsifiable—and, therefore, not science. Darwinism is no more than just consensus thinking. However, I’m afraid the emperor has no clothes.
    Population genetics, at this point, is no more than navel-gazing—or am I being too blunt?! Even the evo-devo people say that the Modern Synthesis is dead. I don’t even follow it anymore.

    What is Orwellian? That some strategies or traits are only beneficial when it belongs to a minority of a population? Do tell, why is that?

    This isn’t “macro”-evolution stuff, this is barely even “micro”-evolution stuff. This is basic “natural selection” in the sense that even most of the strictest Young Earth Creationists accept. YEC could be proven tomorrow and it wouldn’t affect the conclusion in the article on voles one iota.

    Well, at least in this post you seemed to reject the article’s conclusion. But looking at your earlier post you seemed to accept the article’s conclusion but for some reason thought it was anti-Darwinian. So I’m actually not sure which way you’re arguing. If it’s the latter, my response is:

    Darwinism has always claimed that whether a trait is “fit” or not depends entirely upon the current environment. What is fit can change from one moment to the next if the environment changes. And the “environment” has always included other members of the population. IOW – a strategy you have may be beneficial or “fit” as long as most other members of the population are following a particular strategy, but if they change their strategy, your strategy may no longer be beneficial. That’s hardly anti-Darwinian. That’s about as Darwinian as it gets.

  9. And to add that…
    Achieving greater fitness only becomes worse with a changing environment.

    So again, what does Darwinian Evolution have?

  10. If we start with an optimal configuration space considered to be “fit” relative to the population.

    That makes no sense at all. It is individuals within a population that can be considered as having different levels of fitness.

    If we have a 1 in 3 chance (given a mutation can be beneficial, neutral or deleterious) that for each indiscriminate mutation considering type and location/position within this configuration space that can be considered beneficial (overall increases the overall “fitness”), it is easy to see that without an intelligent mechanism to guide the process (perhaps filter out mutations themselves that offset its optimality) relative fitness will decrease substantially, and the organism is subject to rapid extinction.

    Selection ensures that those with deleterious mutations reproduce less – it is a filtering mechanism. It works very well, the process is simple to model and the results can be observed.

  11. it has selection.

  12. goodusername:

    This isn’t “macro”-evolution stuff, this is barely even “micro”-evolution stuff. This is basic “natural selection” in the sense that even most of the strictest Young Earth Creationists accept. YEC could be proven tomorrow and it wouldn’t affect the conclusion in the article on voles one iota.

    But Darwinism doesn’t make such simple claims, does it? This IS the problem. Darwinism claims to be much, much more than simple adaptation.

    Darwinism has always claimed that whether a trait is “fit” or not depends entirely upon the current environment. What is fit can change from one moment to the next if the environment changes. And the “environment” has always included other members of the population.

    This is the Orwellian doublespeak I’m talking about. It’s “fit”, unless, of course, the environment changes (There are four seasons; the environment is changing all the time; but there are so many mammalian species that reproduce only once a year. So what “environment” has caused their “fitness”?). It’s “fit”, unless, of course, the population seems to benefit.
    IOW, as I’ve long said, to use the Darwinian motif, just look for the “better”, and assume that it comes from the “good”; and then define everything accordingly. Then it’s a game of vocabulary. And, in the meantime, we spin around our navels.

    I don’t mean to denigrate population genetics here; I’m simply using forceful language to point out that there are simply too many variables at play—when trying to explain what happens, or what doesn’t happen—to give any credence to what pop genet says.

  13. Studies suggest that “beneficial” mutations rarely occur. The vast majority of mutations are either neutral or deleterious. This is the Achilles Heel of Darwinism/neo-Darwinism.

  14. (this is more of a reply to 3.1.1.1.1, but it is missing a reply button :-)

    But Darwinism doesn’t make such simple claims, does it? This IS the problem. Darwinism claims to be much, much more than simple adaptation.

    Yes, of course. That’s my point. This article has nothing to do with Darwinism (or at least nothing that even most YECs would argue with). There’s nothing in the article about common descent or speciation. There’s technically no reason that the article couldn’t have been written by a young earth creationist. I don’t know why you even bring Darwinism up.

    This is the Orwellian doublespeak I’m talking about. It’s “fit”, unless, of course, the environment changes

    A goldfish is fit for an aquarium. Move it from the aquarium to the kitchen floor and it dies. It isn’t fit for the kitchen floor.

    If Antarctica gets hit by a heat wave and it’s 100F for the next 6 month, all or most of the penguins will die. Their feathers will no longer be fit or beneficial for such conditions.

    Is this “Orwellian doublespeak”? I still have no idea what you are objecting to. I was beginning to wonder if maybe you rejected the entire concept of certain traits ever being “beneficial” or “deleterious” until your response at #5.

    (There are four seasons; the environment is changing all the time; but there are so many mammalian species that reproduce only once a year. So what “environment” has caused their “fitness”?).

    Mammals that live in an environment that have 4 seasons are typically adapted for such predictable changes and are prepared and even anticipate the changes. Not sure what else to say about that? Many of them would actually get in to trouble if the seasons didn’t change because that is the environment they are adapted to.

    It’s “fit”, unless, of course, the population seems to benefit.

    I have no idea what that means.

  15. There isn’t any selection- nature does not select.

    Natural selection is a misnomer as it is merely a result- that is if you have differential reproduction due to heritable random variation you have natural selection.

  16. Yes the weak and feeble get eliminated. The stillborn get eliminated. But that says absolutely NOTHING about what lives and reproduces, which can any number of different variations.

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