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sylas
#38
Apr3-10, 12:16 PM
Sci Advisor
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Quote Quote by zomgwtf View Post
You are changning the definitions of the words you are using, such as 'evolution' and 'random' in order to fit a preconceived notion that evolution IS random.

It truly is NOT random, it just HAPPENS naturally.

There is no CHANCE involved in natural selection. It is either you reproduce or you don't and it is assumed that those who have the opportunity to reproduce were BETTER SUITED for mating in an ENTIRE POPULATION. Why? Because they DID reproduce. This means that THEIR genes are inherited, rinse and repeat. Sure in HINDSIGHT you can say 'oh it was shear luck that this organism with this gene mated with this one and had x children with said gene' but it WAS NOT LUCK. IT WAS NATURE. Over time these changes can be seen and THAT is what is called evolution. There is no dice rolling in this to decide who mates and who doesn't.
This doesn't fit my notions of random, or chance, or evolution, or selection.

Chance is critical in the theory of evolution, and specifically in population genetics. For example, you can give probabilities for a particular mutation to become fixed or eliminated in a population. There's a definite and quite substantial, in fact, chance that a beneficial mutation will be eliminated. That's because natural selection is about amplifying the small changes in probabilities that arise in all the random chances of life for an individual with a given mutation.

For example, have a look at Population genetics: a concise guide, by John H. Gillespie (2004). I found that reference just with a quick google because I knew pretty much any basic reference would tell the same story. Note that there's an appendix on probability. It's essential to figuring out how evolution works.

Another important feature of evolution is called "genetic drift". This is basically change which has negligible consequences for an organism, so there's no natural selection involved. It's still evolution, by biological definitions.

A really good resource for learning more about evolutionary theory is the talkorigins archive. A sample article there is Random Genetic Drift , by Professor Larry Moran. This is a website intended to give basic information for interested readers; and I think it is an excellent starting point. Full disclosure; I've long been involved personally in talkorigins, which is current moribund after a hack attempt probably from creationists. (They really don't like it.) But I think it will be back up and working again sometime soon with a whole pile of new features.

So I disagree. Evolution truly IS random. But random is not the same as a coin flip. Evolution works its wonders by biasing the dice. And it is amazing what you can achieve with a small bias in a random chances of life. I'm also an ex-blackjack card counter. I was able to get maybe a 1% edge over the casino until I was caught and banned and had to find another hobby. Was it random. Sure. But will the casino always make money? Sure. They make sure they have the edge, and that's all they need.

Cheers -- sylas

PS. Your caps lock key seems to be sticking.

PPS. I'm using the conventional biological definition of evolution as any change in the distributions of heritable characteristics within a population over time.