Monday, June 5, 2017

Hate Mail

Ok, you don't like that I said,  "Especially as there are three billion + reasons as measured in years of unknowable life history...."  I'll say take that three billion + years, multiply that by several factors, such as the the total number of organisms alive during that period so as to comprise evolution, the uncountable incidents and factors of environmental conditions, benefits, hazards, close calls won or lost,  coincidences, .... which may or may not have led to them dying or living, the ones which would result in them leaving more or fewer offspring than others of their kind, etc. and you will come up with a far better number to understand why it is entirely possible that natural selection is an entirely imaginary framing instead of a real force of nature.   Or why, if there is such a thing, it might well be drowned out by stronger forces determining the course of life on Earth. 

By the way, any such coincidences, such as the mere chance of being preyed on or catching a fatal illness isn't necessarily a matter of biological inheritance, it can be merely a matter of chance.  Even identical twins or triplets, etc. could be eliminated due to mere chance even if, theoretically, their biological inheritance was identical.  There is no reason to believe that in even most cases the death of such an organism would be due to its biological inheritance.   Such things which could be called "forces" determining the characteristics present in the next generation as easily as something you want to imagine as "natural selection" could be.  I'd guess that chance events are a far stronger such "force".

Richard Lewontin, in his discussion of random factors in the reproductive rates of bacteria or cells mentioned the rate at which cells divide based on unequal numbers of certain molecules being present in divided cells.  If, in his example, seven such molecules had to be present before a cell divided, one of the two might have three copies and the other four, or five and two and the cell with more of the molecules could divide faster than the one which had to manufacture more of that molecule to get up to the required number for division.  Who knows how many such chance differences have been of crucial importance in the history of life on Earth? 

Update:  As far as I've always been led to understand any even biological factors that resulted in a difference in rates of reproduction would have to be inherited from the parents for natural selection to be relevant to the results.   How would chance, such as the an animal preying on one twin or even non-twin instead of another be reliably attributed to differences in inherited traits from the parents and potentially passed on to grandchildren of them?   I wonder if it's possible that in such a case, in species which care for their young, if having more offspring in a generation wouldn't result in diffused parental care, resulting in more of a chance that any one of them might be preyed on than if there were fewer.  I doubt that any difference in biological "fitness" among them would reliably be determinative of who got eaten and who survived to provide the next generation.  I'd imagine chance would be a far stronger "force" determining that.   How you would ever reliably observe such "selective features" or measure them as opposed to chance, I don't know.  I wonder how you'd check such attempts at measurement of such things in the wild as opposed to theory based on no observation.

Which reminds me, I haven't mentioned my debunking of Dawkin's "first bird to cry out" fable in a while.  Thanks for the reminder. 

Update:  Well, think of it in this way, how many current specimens of life alive right now would you need to come up with a "representative sample" of all of the life alive, right now?  Considering both the sheer numbers of organisms that would include and the vast variation in the organisms - among the myriad of species as well as within what we classify as species - their individual and group circumstances in life experience, etc?   It would certainly have to be a huge number of individual specimens to characterize such a sample as "representative" for any kind of analysis and drawing general conclusions about it - not to mention the impossibility of actually doing any of that or even to estimate numbers that people will generally agree on. 

Now multiply that number by years or generations or whatever in the past three billion years.  I guarantee you, even that first number dealing with just now would be vastly greater than the number of fossilized or preserved species which will ever be available for study by biologists so as to come to any reliable conclusions about details or mechanisms of evolution.   And that's not accounting for those unseeable, likely unimaginable events in the lives of such organisms.  Organisms aren't like Steve Weinberg's imagined electrons, one being like every other one.  How he knows that is an interesting question but unless you can come up with some reason for me spending time on it, I've got other things to think about. 

At least those are the kinds of things that make me skeptical of natural selection especially as defined by Darwin in 1859 or even before he died.  I've never gotten answers to my questions on that. 

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