Swine Flu Virus Mutations and the Evolution of Google Ads

I was listening to an NPR report today about the adaptations of the Swine Flu virus. Viruses mutate, i.e. lines of the virus “code” suddenly change, and the virus now becomes resistant to antibiotics, or is able to infect new hosts and spread faster.

That’s what people have been afraid of with the recent outbreaks: That a new “supervirus” mutation will emerge and we’ll all be dead.

On the radio program, a researcher was explaining that 10-20 years ago, an older virus that most definitely WAS related to the swine flu virus family, borrowed genes from an *external* strain of human flu virus, and the combination of those two created a newer, deadlier pathogen.

Thus we witness, in real time, the evolutionary progress of an adaptive viral machine.

I thought, there’s nobody who can grasp what’s really happening here faster than a bunch of folks like you and me who re-write and test Google ads to evolve our businesses.

So let’s dig a level deeper to see what just happened: An older virus that WAS related to swine flu copied lines of code from a different virus.

Google advertisers do that all the time. We do it like this:

You’re advertising on the keyword “business systems.”  You have an ad that says:

Small Business Systems
Learn the art & science of creating
effective systems/processes. Report
www.BoxTheoryGold.com

You’re looking for some inspiration so you check out the ads for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and you like this one:

Learn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Master the Art of Grappling With
The Most Complete Video Ever Made
www.BjjVideoEncyclopedia.com

And you create a new ad that says:

The Art of Small Business
Master the art & science of Systems
The Most Complete Video Ever Made
www.BoxTheoryGold.com/mastery

On NPR the guy said, “There’s no way to predict which new strain will suddenly go viral and kill 1000 people.”

BINGO. Don’t we all know that from our own personal experience? We come up with all these crazy ideas and we never know which one is going to hit pay dirt.

Sometimes what the people like to click on surprises the heck out of ya. You never know until you test. The evolution of your advertising leads you in fascinating, unexpected directions.

Notice that in the evolution of this ad we also had to go from offering a report to “the most complete video ever made.” Yeah, making the video is a tall order, but if it brings you a million dollar client, who’s gonna complain?

Now I want to point out a much less obvious point, something that was even hinted at in the NPR report but never explicitly stated:

The mutation of viruses is clearly a calculated process that is somehow intelligent and definitely purposeful.

It is NOT random.

Let me explain exactly what I mean by that.

There’s a “textbook version” of evolution that you get in biology books, it says: “Evolution is a process of random mutation and natural selection.” Almost every biology book, almost every website you find, says that accidental copying errors in DNA occasionally result in an improvement and eventually the virus or the animal evolves in a positive direction.

Let’s test the “accidental copying errors” theory with Google ads. We start out with this ad:

Simple Self Defense
For Ordinary People
Easy Personal Protection Training
www.tftgroup.com
Response: 0.8%

Simple Self Defense
For Ordinary People
Fast Personal Protection Training
www.tftgroup.com
Response: 1.3%

The difference is that we mutated one word: We changed “Easy” to “Fast” and went from 0.8% to 1.3%. We deliberately changed one adjective to a different one, which proved better.

Now if we try RANDOM mutation – the “accidental copying error” that the biology textbooks talk about – after one mutation it looks like this:

Simple Self Defense
For Ordinary People
Easy Personal Protect0on Training
www.tftgroup.com

The mutant letter is in the word 'protection,’ and it has a 0 instead of an i.

After five mutations it looks like this:
Simple Self Def4nse
For Ordinary Peopla
Easy Personal Protect0ov Traininf
www.tftgroup.com

After ten mutations it looks like this:

Simple SPlf Def4nse
For Ordinary Geopla
Emsy Personal Protect0ov Traininf
ww8.tftgroup.com

Now you can always start over with the original ad and try again, but go ahead and see for yourself (I have a “random mutation generator” at www.randommutation.com) – if anybody can use random mutations to improve their Google ads I’ll happily pay you a $1000 bounty.

If you use only random mutations to evolve your ads…. you’ll bankrupt yourself before you get a single winner. I’ve never found anybody who’s willing to take me up on my $1000 wager.

So what’s my point?

My point is: Random Mutation is not how evolution works. Your own personal experience tells you that.

Everybody who is involved in the daily evolution of anything sees that evolution is not a completely random event that somehow gets lucky, it’s an engineered process. Success often takes a brilliant borrowing of an idea from someone else, or the best guess you can muster. Mindless accident will only kill you faster.

–> This may be one reason why some of your friends assume that you’re successful in business because you “got lucky.” They truly believe that anybody’s success is just a string of lucky accidents; after all, it’s what they were taught in school, isn’t it?

(I heard the famous atheist Richard Dawkins on the radio a few years ago, and he said the origin of life was just “a happy chemical accident.” Hey wait a minute… if Isaac Newton had accepted that kind of non-explanation as an answer, how would he have ever discovered gravity?)

If you are seriously interested in the biological side of this, there is an absolutely fascinating paper by James Shapiro from the University of Chicago called “A 21st Century View of Evolution” which documents in detail how organisms re-program their own DNA to adapt to a changing environment.

A protozoa in distress splices its own DNA into 100,000 pieces and re-arranges them to make a new, more competitive protozoa. (Think about that for a minute. WOW. Nothing in the computer programming world even begins to approach that level of sophistication.)

Tim Ferris hit a winning mutation jackpot when he came up with the book title “The Four Hour Work Week” which he originally tested in a Google ad. The book is now a New York Times bestseller.

His success – and your success – is not a ‘happy chemical accident.’ It’s engineered to happen, it’s designed to happen, and it’s intentional. Note that he had to completely re-organize his book around this theme too. Evolution doesn’t happen for free.

And like I said, nobody experiences how evolution *really* works than people like you and me who evolve products, processes, marketing systems and businesses every single day. And nobody understands the thrill of hitting pay dirt with a new mutation that goes viral and slaughters the competition, than you and me.

Even the constantly mutating, self-adapting swine flu is proof that inside every success story is an intelligent mechanism that’s constantly, tirelessly searching for a superior combination of code. Even the lowly swine flu virus seeks world domination.

You want your business to go viral because you’re obeying the core directive that’s in the DNA of all living things. You have selfish genes and that’s good…. and those genes are intentional and intelligent. Intelligence doesn’t come from nothing. All our yearnings to grow, reproduce and succeed speak of an original, ingenious process set in place long ago by Someone who is Very Wise.

Perry Marshall

Further reading:

James Shapiro’s “A 21st Century View of Evolution”; and a more recent work: http://shapiro.bsd.uchicago.edu/Shapiro.2005.Gene.pdf

The Random Mutation Generator

My DNA lectures at Lucent Technologies: “Information Theory, DNA and the Case for Intelligent Evolution”

Jessica Bischof’s ebook on preventing Swine Flu

About the Author

Entrepreneur Magazine says: "Perry Marshall is the #1 author and world's most-quoted consultant on Google Advertising. He has helped over 100,000 advertisers save literally billions of dollars in Adwords stupidity tax."

He is referenced across the Internet and by The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune and Forbes Magazine.

Last 5 Posts by Perry

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Posted by Perry on May 7th, 2009. Filed in Marketing Blog. Tagged as . Follow responses thru Comments RSS. Follow responses thru Comments RSS.

Comments on Swine Flu Virus Mutations and the Evolution of Google Ads »

  • I was more thinking of a simpler experiment where the only thing that happens is to see if an ad that gets randomly mutated + natural selection (i.e., anything that’s not a real word gets converted back to the previous word) will eventually end up with an Ad that has only that single word changed from “Easy” to “Fast”.

    To speed that process up, we will reduce the time it takes to mutate single words, by just randomly changing words, using a database of all english words available. To simplify that a bit more we can also use a reduced word set. This just to speed things up, it doesn’t change the validity of the experiment.

    But,…. somehow I think that you don’t agree with these settings.. :)

    You´re making a fundamental mistake with your random mutation simulator. Assuming that all mutations are automatically applied is just not correct. You´re taking natural selection out of the equation. I don’t think we’ll ever agree on that point. But that’s ok. We can just agree to not agree on that point and leave it at that.

    • Perry says:

      Peter,

      Yes of course all mutations are automatically applied. All mutated ads have to be displayed, just as all offspring that are conceived must attempt to survive. Not only do they have to survive after they’re born, they have to survive the birthing process. Darwinian evolution doesn’t get to have help from a “dictionary” and you don’t either. Of course that would save time but it also sidesteps the point of actually simulating Darwinian evolution. Darwinian evolution has no way of knowing in advance what has a chance of working, and nobody gets to cheat by trying to help it along.

  • Stan says:

    Perry just reminded me of an article I just read.

    http://io9.com/5227470/a-drug-to-re%20awaken-ancient-human-genes-and-fight-hiv

    Scientists are looking at ancient sections of our DNA code. They have found that a mutation in those sections may have blocked a chemical which they know blocks transmission of the HIV virus. Who knows what other turned off sections are hidden. Again there is a system. It makes sense that DNA invests heavily into error correction, look what happens when an important gene gets turned off.

  • Perry,

    I think it’s obvious that most random mutations are NOT applied. The Shapiro paper shows just that.

    • Perry says:

      That’s right, Peter. The genome militantly guards against most “possible” mutations, and only executes deliberate transpositions that it predicts will be beneficial.

      Which means the traditional Darwinian theory can’t be right. Shapiro’s theory of evolution is superficially similar – because the end result is the same, and because natural selection operates the same way. But underneath it is wholly different from Darwin’s theory. It’s driven by cellular engineering, not random copying errors.

  • Almost,. :)

    Just because there is error correction, doesn’t mean that those mutations that do pass through, are deliberately chosen by somebody or something.

    Your oldest child doesn’t look exactly the same as your youngest child, even though they were created from the exact same 2 parents. That’s pure chance at work, nothing more.

    If you don’t agree with this, try explaining to parents that have a child with Down syndrome that their child was intelligently engineered.

    It’s all pure chance (which is the same thing as random)

    • Perry says:

      The combination of two parents’ genes is random in a limited sense, but it exactly obeys the laws of genetics in the larger sense.

      This is wholly different from “random mutation” which is the origin of all manner of birth defects, like Down Syndrome. So yes you are right, those mutations that pass through are NOT necessarily chosen by somebody or something. The genome guards militantly against random mutations so that things like Down syndrome do not occur, but as we know with computer systems, error correction systems are not 100% failure proof. Sometimes corrupted code slips through.

      Traditional Darwinian evolution gives the credit for the magnificent forms of biology to random mutation, when in fact random mutations produce almost nothing but birth defects, extinction and death. What a sad irony. It is a crime against the enterprise of science to make this atrocious reversal.

      It is not all pure chance, and furthermore, there is no empirical evidence to suggest that it is pure chance. Notice that throughout this thread there have been numerous objections but no one has produced any experiments that demonstrate that evolution is driven by random mutation. Which is reinforced by my original analogy, which is that nobody can manage to re-write Google ads successfully with a Random Mutation generator – no matter how much natural selection is available.

      As I said, I’ve been watching for evidence that random mutation drives evolution for 5 years now and there is none. Always assumed, and taught ’round the world, but never proven.

  • Peter(IMC) says:

    Perry,

    I think you´re pretty much confirming that what drives the mutations is a random process. You´re adding to that that cells however, try to not allow any mutations but that they´re not 100% successful at that and that that is what creates improvements (and also defects.)

    If you would do a study of the distribution of for example shapes of human beings, you’ll find that most have an average shape, and that the further from that average shape you get, the less people you will find that have a body like that. That’s a typical description of a normal chance distribution, which is logical: Mutations that look a lot like the original will be easier to pass through the cell error correction processes than a mutation that’s very different. However, over thousands and thousands of years, the difference between the original and the current version is much bigger. Every time a small step also ends up in a big step.

    Now if you look at it at different levels then you’ll find that mutations after all the engineering, is still a random process. So mutations at DNA level are random, but mutations at for example a whole body level, are also random. That’s why you see the distribution of body shapes is a random distribution.

    The same applies for other properties (intelligence, strength, height, etc. etc.) they all are distributed the same way.

    It all proves that the whole process is random, from the cell level mutations to complete changes in whole bodies.

    I agree with you that the error correction exists. It’s a necessity even because it improves survivability. But that’s the whole point of Darwinian Evolution: Properties that improve survivability have a better chance to stay. Thus error correction is something that has evolved as well. It wasn’t put in there by somebody or something. (If you believe in God and believe that God put it in there, then I’ll go as far as agreeing that God has made the laws of nature, knowing (He knows everything) that evolution based on random mutation is the best way to go.)

    As to your random mutation generator, it doesn’t do what nature does, therefore it doesn’t proof anything.

    Your random mutation generator tries to create a better version of an existing body that was created through evolution. You then go way back in time when the very first random mutations created the first improvements, use that level of simplicity to mutate that (advanced) body into a new body and are surprised that that doesn’t work.

    I think it’s pretty obvious that that doesn’t work.

  • Robert says:

    I suppose you are trying to say that this virus was engineered because of its rapid change? If so, I highly recommend this article: http://www.sott.net/articles/show/183333-Connecting-the-Dots-A-Pandemic-Distracts-as-the-World-Government-Picks-a-Fight

  • Patrick Klima says:

    Perry,
    While I don’t share your faith, your maintaining it is one of the reasons I listen to you.

    Even so, your Adwords analogy has 2 and 1/2 flaws.

    I’ll get to them in a moment. First, let’s agree on how biology defines genetic variation:
    1.) Genetic variation occurs after fertilization, when the parent chromosomes meet for the first time.
    2.) The chromosomes unravel and elongate
    4.) The parent chromosomes wrap around each other like tangled spaghetti
    5.) Chunks of DNA (genes) swap places resulting in genetic variation.
    Here’s a picture: http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/4_0_0/evo_17

    Single-celled and viral mutation happens in a similar way, except the DNA (or viral RNA) makes a pretzel with itself and genes swap around.

    So, yes, there’s a degree of randomness, but the randomness only reshuffles the genes which previously existed.

    That brings up the first error in your Adwords analogy. Natural mutations occur with genes from inside the parent genome, not new letters from outside. So adding random characters is out. We can only draw from inside the ad.

    Second, we’re swapping genes, not individual codons. There are markers within DNA which indicate where genes start and end, and that’s where the switches happen.
    So, really, we should be swapping words, not letters.
    If we want to acknowledge that sexual reproduction is superior to asexual reproduction, then really we should be swapping WORDS from TWO PARENT ADS to create an offspring ad. Now a functional ad is more likely. A successful ad resulting from two highly successful ads is even more likely.
    Offer me those terms and I’ll take a spot in your next Bobsled run over the $1000. (Duh, who wouldn’t…)

    Unrelated, is the last 1/2 flaw (for a total of 2 and 1/2 ;-) that you’re mutating 1 letter out of 120. Genomes have millions of genes. So the analogy breaks down there.

    But wait! Where are my studies which back all this up? I don’t know. Ask Berkeley. As with many things in our world (like calculus proofs), I’m willing to accept that someone has done that research so I don’t have to. (As your website proves, many people feel that way about Adwords.)

    I would distinguish my trust from faith, because I know the proof is available if I want to see it. By definition, faith demands acceptance without ever seeing proof.

    Lastly, I think people are afraid of “intelligent design” because it is the first step down a very long, slippery slope, at the end of which is a belief system which removes the autonomy and choice from our lives.

    You’re dealing with people who want to be entrepreneurs. We’re willing to work until our bodies fail us, with no safety net, for as long as it takes, if it means we can be independent. As long as religion seems antithetical to that, we’ll resist it.

    – Patrick

  • Perry says:

    Peter,

    If you’re saying the reason some people are taller than others is because of random mutations to DNA, it would be the first time I’ve ever heard that theory. From what I understand this is determined by specific factors of Mendelian genetics.

    The number of characters in Google ads follows a bell curve distribution too, but that does not mean the source of those ads is random noise.

    This is not the first time that I’ve heard a hypothesis that an error correction mechanism accidentally emerged from the errors themselves. I would be interested in anyone who can offer an empirical example of something like that actually happening.

    From all that I know about engineering communication theory, the only thing noise ever produces is noise. Noise does not produce words or language, and certainly does not create error correction systems.

    I’ve yet to meet anyone who can demonstrate otherwise. My invitation for anyone to present some examples of that is still open.

    ~

    Patrick:

    1) On your first point, I think we are both actually saying the same thing. I gave an example of two parent ads giving birth to a new, innovative child ad, and I said, this is highly similar to how species adapt.

    2) And yes, the substitutions must be made on the WORD and PHRASE level, not at the level of single characters. Which underscores my point that evolution is not random, because randomness by definition operates at the lowest level. Changing words and following rules of syntax is what organisms do, and that is a high-level function.

    2 1/2) Mutating 1 letter out of 120 in contrast to millions of genes is a valuable point and I’m glad you brought this up.

    The DNA for even the simplest cell is vastly more complex and sophisticated than a Google ad. So what I am saying is this: If random mutation can’t evolve a tiny Google ad – if even in a simple PPC ad, you have to make intelligent word substitutions in order to get an improvement – then how much more should this be true of an intricate genetic program?

    If you read Shapiro’s paper, it backs both what you are saying and what I am saying. That genetic adaptations are intelligent substitutions, not random mutations. The proof of this is readily available in the literature.

    To your last point about autonomy and choice: I think many people resist the substantial amount of evidence for design in the universe for the sole reason that it implies that the universe also comes with moral responsibilities, obligations and/or implications that they do not like.

    Some people simply prefer the materialistic interpretation, despite its inability to explain the origin of life for example. The fact that information is a top-down phenomenon is, all by itself, proof that the bottom-up, materialism / reductionism interpretation falls short.

    Finally, studies show that small business owners are more likely to be religious than the general population. I don’t see religion as taking away my independence and neither do many others.

    I do see religion as saying that yes, there is an objective reality that if somebody steals from you or me, it really is objectively WRONG and not merely the violation of some arbitrary convention that some humans invented to wield power over other humans.

    Sincerely,

    Perry

  • I’ll keep my reply short Perry,…. It’s the error correction that results in the non random result. The mutations on DNA level however, are still random.

    • Perry says:

      In Shapiro’s paper, he says, “Major evolutionary steps occur by DNA rearrangements carried out by sophisticated cellular natural genetic engineering systems operating non-randomly” and he backs this up with specific examples from his research.

      I’ll keep my reply short, Peter…. please likewise back up your own claim with evidence.

  • Sorry Perry, but what you´re asking is the same thing as asking to prove that 1 + 1 is 2. When somebody asks that, there’s no convincing possible.

    But that’s ok. :)

    There are people that think it’s proven that we didn’t go to the moon and that it’s all a fake. To them it’s proven that we never went to the moon. It’s the same thing with them,.. if you explain why their logic is wrong, they ignore it (like you´re doing) and return to their own evidence.

    The only way to prove people went to the moon is to take them there and show what was left behind in the early 70′s.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_and_Rosemary_Grant

    “Peter and Rosemary Grant are distinguished for their remarkable long-term studies demonstrating evolution in action in Galápagos finches. They have demonstrated how very rapid changes in body and beak size in response to changes in the food supply are driven by natural selection. They have also elucidated the mechanisms by which new species arise and how genetic diversity is maintained in natural populations. The work of the Grants has had a seminal influence in the fields of population biology, evolution and ecology.”

  • Patrick says:

    Hey Perry,

    Thanks for the answers. I’m pleased you wrote back.
    You have a good point about moral obligation. You’re probably right, that’s exactly why some fear religion.
    As I was growing up, I guess I never saw my religion as directly related to my moral code (though, now that I think about it, that’s exactly what it was supposed to be for). So when my religion didn’t make logical sense anymore, I guess I didn’t feel like I was losing any part of my character.

    Your rhetorical question about why some people fear intelligent design is really only asking half the question.

    The real question is: Why does intelligent design vs evolution upset so many people?
    The answer for atheists: intelligent design implies a challenge to their moral code, or maybe their independence.
    But for Christians, any evidence of evolution challenges the foundation of their faith, and in the absence of proof for their faith (which we’ve said, by definition, cannot exist) they must destroy any proof which opposes it.

    The same question which you pose to atheists “Why does this bother your moral code so much?” I could pose to Christians “Why does this bother your faith so much?”. And a similar question to evangelists: “Why is it difficult to accept that others believe differently than you?

    You don’t have to answer this time, unless you feel like it. You’ve got my respect, and my gratitude.

    Take care,
    Patrick

    ————————————-
    Peter,

    Dude. Let it go. We’ve all had our fun.
    Perry’s not going to change his mind or decide he’s wrong. Neither are you. If for no other reason, then obey the #1 rule of sales: you can’t change anyone’s mind by arguing with them.

    – Patrick

    • Perry says:

      Patrick,

      Let me slightly re-frame your question: Why does naturalism vs. design upset so many people? (I don’t see evolution and design as being opposites; my observation is that everything that we know the origin of that does evolve, is designed.)

      It’s an upsetting question because it strikes at the heart of the issue of whether the universe and human existence has purpose or obligation.

      If the universe is purposeless and everything we see here is the result of blind chance and laws of nature, then that carries moral implications.

      If the universe is purposeful and everything we see here is the result of an intentional act of any kind of spiritual entity, then that carries moral implications.

      I think that religion that does not speak to moral obligations is pretty useless.

      Everyone knows that religious people who don’t respect their own moral obligations are hypocrites.

      Final thought: I don’t see “faith” as being a set of beliefs which by definition can have no proof. Not at all. I see faith as hypothesis that eventually leads to proof or at least some sort of confirmation and supporting experience. If that sounds like the scientific method to you, then you’re exactly right. In other places (for example http://www.perrymarshall.com/merry-christmas-2008/ )

      I make the case that modern science owes its very existence to faith and theology. Because science rests on the presupposition that the world is ruled by fixed discoverable laws and that was originally a religious idea.

      I similarly see the living of my personal faith as being more similar to that than different. It produces testable hypotheses about how DNA functions (which I lightly allude to on this very web page). I can live my life by moral principles and see the difference compared to those who live by different principles. And even the effectiveness of prayer itself is something that can be tested based on outcomes.

      Perry

      P.S.: Regarding your reply to Peter, I could be swayed by evidence, and have been asking for the same.

      Actually about 5 years ago I was initially persuaded that evolution may in fact be driven by randomness; that all you needed was Natural Selection to kill off the losers from the random mutations and you would naturally have forward progress.

      But as I investigated, I found that there is no actual evidence to support this at all. I was somewhat surprised to find this to be so. It is a VERY subtle point; most people don’t really even know what they mean when they say ‘random mutation.’ That little word “random” just gets snuck in there and people assume all is well.

      Imagine my surprise in discovering that although thousands or even tens of thousands of books say that evolution is driven by “random mutations” or “random variation”, I could not find even one scientific paper that backed that claim with experimental data.

      Instead what I found was people like Goldschmidt and Dobzhansky, who lab-tested this theory for decades (mutating fruit fly and moth DNA with radiation) and got absolutely nowhere.

      As you so well pointed out with your own links and descriptions, organisms evolve by highly calculated, very precise re-arrangements of specific genes. This is what Shapiro calls “cellular genetic engineering.” This process isn’t the least bit random, and in fact the genome devotes considerable resources to preventing random mutations.

      I’ve been debating this subject online for 4 years now and I’ve never once been presented with positive evidence for random mutation as a driver of evolution. This is always assumed, never proved.

      Peter said that asking for proof of this is like asking for proof that 1+1=2. I can understand why he has always taken this for granted. Random Mutation is believed by many to be self-evident and not even requiring proof.

      But I am asking for proof. And I want to be clear that I was 100% sincere in my request to Peter. My mind can be changed with factual information. If presented with empirical evidence and scientific studies I will graciously consider it.

  • Patrick,

    Don’t worry. I’m not discussing this because I want to change Perry’s mind. I just like these kind of discussions and Perry luckily is somebody that doesn’t shy away from a discussion like this.

    As to the subject: There seems to be a need for reproducing evolution through random mutations in order to believe that it is random mutations that drive evolution.

    I have a question for Perry:

    We seem to agree on the point of all the mechanisms that are in place today work towards not allowing bad mutations to have much of a chance to continue. We do know that they sometimes have a chance as sometimes deficiencies do happen.

    But all that engineering seems to happen after the mutations. That’s what the shakiro paper also seems to describe. What happens after the mutations happen. It doesn’t describe what triggered it.

    You´re looking at a stone flying through the air and by studying the path of that stone through the air, you notice it seems to follow some kind of engineered path as it is a very consistant path,.. as if it was planned to follow that path. But ofcourse, the path is dicated by the laws of gravity, nobody is steering that stone. It’s just under the influence of the laws of gravity.

    The real question of why the stone is there on that path can only be answered if you know how and why it was thrown or perhaps it just fell of a mountain, or perhaps a horse running made it fly up in the air, or…. well many things. It could be anything that caused that stone to be moving through the air. The cause could be just about anything. In other words, a random cause.

    Would you agree that even though the stone is following an “engineered” path, the cause is still random?

    • Perry says:

      Peter,

      I can only encourage you to re-read Shapiro’s paper “A 21st century view of evolution: genome system architecture, repetitive DNA, and natural genetic engineering.” You have misrepresented what Shapiro has said.

      The whole point of Shapiro’s work is that the mutations themselves are highly engineered events. That is precisely what he means by his term “Natural Genetic Engineering.” I quote:

      “Major evolutionary steps occur by DNA rearrangements carried out by sophisticated cellular natural genetic engineering systems operating non-randomly.”

      If you’re looking for analogies, a stone flying through the air is not one that fits. A much closer analogy would be: You discover a computer program that not only has extremely sophisticated error-correction mechanisms which are quite similar to those you find in a DVD player, but the computer program also re-arranges thousands of lines of code on the fly to adapt to viruses and new operating systems.

      Did that computer program come from some random bit of noise floating around in the universe? Or was it written by an incredibly talented engineer?

      I for one know of no computer programs that were created by a random accidental event.

      Perry

  • I’ll reply in more detail later, but I’m sure you agree that no human being was created by a random accidental event. It was a series of events. Millions and millions of events that eventually turned up with human beings.

    The first computer program ever had how many lines of code?

  • Mikec says:

    Perhaps one could cite any evidence for a beneficial mutation, as far as I know not one has been identified yet (sickle cell anaemia is hardly beneficial)

    The problem is that natural selection requires the generation of ‘new’ information in vast quantities, for which there is just no evidence. pseudo beneficial mutations, like that which causes antibiotic resistance in strpotococcus aureliis n(MRSA) are actually a loss of data,

    There is also the problem of the ‘cost’ of selection, in that, for the winner to be ‘selected’, the loosers must die, this will very quickly put the organism below sustainability levels and it will die out.

    Natural selection is a wonderful urban myth, and will be seen as the greatest scientific hoax of all time….

  • Gerald Anderson says:

    I wonder if you are not setting up a Darwinian “straw man” to destroy. I have not read Darwin and do not know his exact words, but Darwin’s not knowing much of the genetic transmission process (e.g., his not knowing of DNA) how can you say his “random mutations” are not your higher-order changes? It seems to me that your conjecture is just a semantic cognate of Darwin’s unknown process of genetic change. Certainly the concept of generating many “trial” changes and then selecting the most felicitous adaptation seems to be the essence of both Darwin’s and your explanations.

    • Perry says:

      No Darwinian straw man here at all. Vast swaths of biology literature state (without proof) that random mutations of DNA base pairs filtered by natural selection produce new species. Please refer to James A. Shapiro, “A 21st Century View of Evolution”: http://shapiro.bsd.uchicago.edu/Shapiro.2005.Gene.pdf for a revised understanding of how evolution happens. Note Shapiro’s emphatic statements that random changes to DNA are not the way evolution proceeds.

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