Listen: Gauger on the Limits of Evolutionary Optimization


(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #13

Design is everywhere whether it is human’s doing it or nature doing it, design is an iterative process.
The human design process is much more compassionate than the natural design process. Today we design things with safety in mind, nature designs through natural selection is brutal, non caring, and just tosses it’s non-optimal designs away to die (and be prone to sinus inflections like @NLENTS explained in his book on human design errors). I’ll take a 21st century designer over a nature designed outcome.

(Ann Gauger) #14

@patrick it’s the Darwinian way. I wrote a poem a few weeks ago you may appreciate. It’s about a young hedgehog with a mutation that caused his spines to develop as plates.

 You’ve set me all a tumbling
 These plates are just a kludge
I’d be happy just a-bumbling
Through brush and bush and hedge
But look! I'm just a-fumbling
To pry loose and not wedge

These scales are like logs,
I’d be happier with spines
Spines attract lady hogs
They’re small and refined
But these scaly thing-a-bobs
Are a royal por-cu-pine.

I’d really like to clank less
I’m always bringing up the rear
My plates impede my progress
The ladies run in fear
I waddle like a walrus.
There'll be no piglets here!!

This life’s regular rum show 
Why’d I have to draw this deal?
Don’t tell me--just the way it goes
If it was you then, how’d you feel?
It may be a one in a trillion throw
But losing throws are real!

I don’t know why the formatting is funky. But the blue at the end is fortuitous.

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #15

You seem to blame Darwin for the way the world is? He didn’t cause any suffering that we have in the world. Darwin didn’t design cancer in children. Thousands of scientists around the world are working hard to understand cancer in children to treat it or perhaps eliminate it. Sure life seems to proceed in a brutal, non-caring, meaningless and purposeless process I call evolution and you call a Darwinian process. Why blame what is on Darwin? It seems to me as senseless as blaming cancer in children on God or some other invisible undetectable entity.

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #16

Here is a song on evolution entitled “Endless Forms Most Beautiful” by the rock group Nightwish. Richard Dawkins opens the song. The words are very clever like “Come watch Tiktaalik take her first step”

It may not be your genre of music but it does treat nature with awe.


(Neil Rickert) #17

I listened to the whole thing. It was interesting enough, but not at all surprising.

Yes, there are limits to evolutionary optimization. I realized that long ago. That’s why I am not a Darwinist. But I don’t see this as a problem for evolution. Suboptimal is good enough. In some ways, suboptimal is better than optimal.

@Agauger seems to see this as a problem for evolution. However, it seems more of a problem for ID. Her experimental method forces a direction and shows limits in following that direction. But assuming a direction is part of ID thinking. Evolution works well because there is no required direction.

(Ann Gauger) #18

Of course Darwin has no personal responsibility for death, disease etc. The poem was meant mainly as a joke and the use of the name Darwin was to personify an impersonal process. The use of a person’s name to stand for the system of thought he began is quite common, such as Lysenkoism, Maoism, Trotskyites, Stalinist, Freudian, Orwellian.
However, Darwin does get credit for the idea of natural selection operating on naturally occurring variation in the population. That’s what the poem is about. No need for drift, incomplete lineage sorting, mutational bias etc. So it would be less accurate for the hedgehog to exclaim “Evolution!”

You are right, it is not my style music, but once we got past the intro and she started singing it was fine. The lyrics were good and descriptive of some of the tremendous things we see in life’s history. And it does treat nature with awe. But the wheels seemed out of place.

I found this last night. A little more isolating, but you may like it.

(Faizal Ali) #19

What are some of the hypotheses you are exploring? Please be as specific as you can. Could you cite some of the papers you and your group have published on the subject?

(Ann Gauger) #20

Oh, you know, I just realized you were talking about an old podcast, very old, recycled for reuse.

I thought you all were talking about the new podcast

That’s not true. Cells have specific problems to solve: low nutrient availability, challenges from new diseases, toxins, new resources to exploit, change in habitat requiring adaptation to new diet etc.and limited routes to follow. That’s all I am going to say. There will be more later.

(Ann Gauger) #21


Are you new here? Explore this site. I have answered these questions already in as much detail as I care to. And you can look up papers. Google Scholar works well.

(Faizal Ali) #22

I’m new here, but not to your work. I’ve probably read most of the articles you’ve published on BIO-Complexity, for example. None of them address the issues you mention, nor have any of the many of your articles I have read on Evolution News or similiar ID sites. Are you saying you only “publish” this research on places like this web forum? That’s now scientists usually work, is it?

(Faizal Ali) #23

I have read up on how complicated adaptations such arose thru evolution. However, unless I am mistaken, you favour a different explanation. And, as I said, I have read quite a bit of material from you and your ID colleagues. However, I have never run across an explanation of the non-evolultionary mechanisms by which you believe such adaptations arise, even at the most basic and simple level. Is “try Google scholar” really the most specific advice you have to offer when I ask where I can find such an explanation? Forgive me if I say that is not very helpful.

(Ann Gauger) #24

Your request came out of the blue and rather preemptively.The only explanation I had for such behavior was that you were new to the forum and/or ignorant of all I had written here…
You say you have read quite a bit of material on ID. I have no idea what material or how technical. You say complicated adaptations. What complicated adaptations? There are a range. I don’t have time to write a book. I can’t give a specific answer if you don’t ask a specific question. And if you are looking for a specific mechanism for how “God did it” you won’t get one.

(Timothy Horton) #25

ID doesn’t offer a physical mechanism by which the Designer manipulated matter. ID doesn’t offer any sort of timeline for when the Design or manufacturing was done. ID doesn’t offer a location(s) for where the manufacture took place. ID doesn’t offer any positive evidence to support the Design claim. ID doesn’t offer any testable hypotheses. ID doesn’t offer any way for its claims to be falsified. All that FAIL yet its proponents insist we call it “ID Theory”.

ID is a religiously based political movement, not a scientific one. ID as presented now doesn’t offer much of anything except a reason for religious people to think science supports their religion. Those sad people who need science to validate their religious beliefs have some awfully weak religious beliefs.

(Bill Cole) #26

Hi Ann
Here is a segment that I lifted from Hayashi 2006. While randomizing about 30% of the protein which infected its target was able to get some activity after 20 trials Hayashi estimated 10^77 trials to find the wild type. This is very similar to your discussion.

The question remains regarding how large a population is required to reach the fitness of the wild-type phage. The relative fitness of the wild-type phage, or rather the native D2 domain, is almost equivalent to the global peak of the fitness landscape. By extrapolation, we estimated that adaptive walking requires a library size of 1070 with 35 substitutions to reach comparable fitness. Such a huge search is impractical and implies that evolution of the wild-type phage must have involved not only random substitutions but also other mechanisms, such as homologous recombination. Recombination among neutral or surviving entities may suppress negative mutations and thus escape from mutation-selection-drift balance.

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #27

Would one of the many excellent evolutionary scientists engage @Faizal_Ali here. He is new here and we should not treat him like a professor would an undergraduate. :wink: @Art @NLENTS can you jump in here. Thanks

(Faizal Ali) #28

This is the specific passage I was referring to:

I’m not asking you to write a book. Just some specific reference to the findings you have made in this “active area of research”. I don’t understand why that is not a reasonable request. Usually, scientists won’t stop talking about their research, even if you want them to!

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #29

@Agauger research is super classifed, high proprietary, double secret probationary. It is so secret, that she doesn’t even tell herself about it.

(Faizal Ali) #30

Thanks for the request, but I have a reasonable understanding of the evolutionary explanations for such adaptive traits in biology that give the appearance of having been “designed.” I am, however, admittedly quite ignorant of the recent finding by ID scientists, in what we have been reassured by one of the leading figures in that field is an “active areas of research.” Since I am not aware of a single scrap of such research, it must be a result of my ignorance. I suppose it is possible that evolutionary scientists might be aware of this research. But wouldn’t it be better coming from someone in the field of ID? That how it would seem to me, anyway.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #31

At least one of her hypotheses on population genetics, surprisingly enough to me, ended up panning out: Heliocentric Certainty Against a Bottleneck of Two?.

The Theological Hypothesis of Adam in Science?
(Ann Gauger) #32


Perhaps you misunderstood. When I said it was an active area of research, I meant it was an active area of research in the scientific community as a whole. We are not engaged in this research. But we are interested in it.