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Title Author Date
Meyer's Helpless Monster Novikov, Dmitri Apr 10, 2005
Dear Alan Gishlick, Nick Matzke, and Wesley R. Elsberry:

Sir Fred Hoyle did not like Darwinism for the simple reason that it is a stupid misconception. See his "Mathematics of Evolution" He writes: "So it came about from 1860 onward that new believers became in a sense mentally ill, or, more precisely, either you became mentally ill or you quitted the subject of biology..." What the evolution theory proposes is natural selection on random variation resulting genetic change and thus new genes. The trivial simplicity of the following one gene model is the reason it penetrates minds starting from high school and does not go away easily. If “A” gene variety has a higher survival probability than variety “a” of the same gene, and no other variation exists, in a countable number of generations variety “A” will replace variety “a”. This is what most of population genetics is about. Where is the flaw? An organism does not have one gene only. And a gene is not just a few nucleotides long it is much longer. What if the individuals with the good gene “A” carry a bad gene “b” with the bad effect overweighing the good of “A”? What about the natural situation that the number of bad mutations significantly exceeds the number of good ones? The species dies very soon, life is impossible, or the theory must die. One may argue: natural selection can eliminate all bad ones, even when they are many, and keep the few good ones. Well, it cannot. You can either check the behavior of the function, or you can intuitively conclude the following. Suppose the genome size is 3 billion base pairs (close to ours), the non-neutral mutation rate is one per a hundred million base pairs, resulting 30 mutations per individual per generation. Most mutations are naturally neutral and do not affect survival. However, for those that are not neutral, we can hardly suggest a rate of more than 1:100 of good ones to bad ones (how many times do we have to drop a Swiss watch on a concrete floor for the watch to go a bit more accurately? – and a bacterium is far more complex than the whole watch factory). For the selection to work to the advantage of the species there should be some individuals with at least 16 good to 14 bad mutations. The selection will not find this or better one. Even if it did, it would have to wipe the rest of the population in every generation. But it will not find it in a billion years anyway. Some biologists would argue: the mutation rate is lower; it is like one per the whole genome per generation. Well, what genetic change would you get with such a low rate? A new gene in a hundred of billions of years? – Not even that soon. And natural selection would still have to kill 99 out of 100. Darwin did not know about genes. Muller found the contradiction and termed it genetic load. Neo-Darwinians hid it or try to ignore.

People should calculate before they say something, if they care of course.

Sincerely,

Dmitri