In another post on that thread, Smooth Operator wrote: "New genes do not equal new information."
Because this would be off topic on that thread, I would like to propose a thread to explore how one could come to the belief in devolution/no new information without a religious, and in particular a biblical, background.
I see no convincing evidence in the scientific or popular scientific literature for this position. Mainstream science has, in fact, concluded just the opposite. On the other hand, a number of people and denominations interpret the bible in such a way as to support this belief.
But if one does not acquire this devolution/no new information belief through religion, as Smooth Operator attests, or from mainstream science, from where does it come?
Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.
The "no new information" argument probably requires a creationist background. It is, after all, one of the most common creationist deceptions. It typically relies on introducing no measure of information at all, which reduces the whole thing to meaningless rhetoric. If asked for a measure - which is required make the argument meaningful the typical answers is evasion and refusal.
Another argument is to say that natural selection reduces information - which can only be true if information is measured by genetic variation in the gene pool - and then turn around and say that mutations cannot increase information. Of course, any novel variant would represent an increase in diversity - in the same way as the elimination of a variant is a reduction. The two statements simply cannot both be true if a consistent measure of information is used.
Creationist Lee Spetner did do better. But not much. In fact he introduced several measures changing the measure to get the answer he wanted each time. Since different measures of information can give different results (and because we know that Spetner changed the measure to avoid admitting to an increase at least once) it cannot be said that this version of the argument is any more honest.
Of course, mutations can and do increase the diversity in the gene pool and duplication and diversification can increase the information in the genome. The latter is where an additional copy of a gene is produced and one of the two copies later mutates. Duplication is usually dismissed on the (incorrect) ground that an extra copy adds no new information (the presence of the additional copy is itself information) - but even if this is accepted mutation to either copy must add information since the two genes are no longer exactly the same.
quote:I see no convincing evidence in the scientific or popular scientific literature for this position. Mainstream science has, in fact, concluded just the opposite. On the other hand, a number of people and denominations interpret the bible in such a way as to support this belief.
quote:None of those links support the position that genes are unable to produce new information.
Well you have to have the IQ of at least 20 to be able to extrapolate it from the articles by yourself.
If all the articles say that the genome is constantly deteriorating, than it could have not evolved any information, because it is constantly decreasing, not increaing it's informational content. It's a logical necessity.
What if I take a copy of Newton's Principia and tear out a dozen pages every day, but add two pages from Einstein's paper on general relativity? Won't the book be constantly degrading and loosing the total quantity of information, but still be gaining some new information? (Careful here, Smoothy. This is a trick question.)
Sorry, Coyote. You posted post#8 while I was writing this, and I fear this is off topic, so no need to answer. But I think many posts will go off topic in the same direction.
You've done nothing but linked to papers that talk about deleterious mutations. However, no one here has ever argued that deleterious mutation don't exist, nor that they are not the majority of mutations. In regards to the third paper, that deals with the unique status of humans as the only species that can regularly neutralize deleterious mutations by dramatically altering the environment (through technology). The point of the paper is that, as a species, this could result in a loss of a large percent of the population.
quote:If war or famine force our descendants to return to a stone-age life they will have to contend with all the problems that their stone-age ancestors had plus mutations that have accumulated in the meantime.
However, this in no way precludes the remaining human population from gaining higher fitness after the fact.
That very same author, in another paper also writes on populations' ability to evolve
quote: Long-term selection experiments show that populations continue to retain seemingly undiminished additive variance despite large changes in the mean value. I propose that there are several reasons for this. (i) The environment is continually changing so that what was formerly most fit no longer is. (ii) There is an input of genetic variance from mutation, and sometimes from migration. (iii) As intermediate-frequency alleles increase in frequency towards one, producing less variance (as p --> 1, p(1 - p) --> 0), others that were originally near zero become more common and increase the variance. Thus, a roughly constant variance is maintained. (iv) There is always selection for fitness and for characters closely related to it. To the extent that the trait is heritable, later generations inherit a disproportionate number of genes acting additively on the trait, thus increasing genetic variance. For these reasons a selected population retains its ability to evolve.
If all the articles say that the genome is constantly deteriorating,
They don't say that. They are just examples of neutral and deleterious mutations and cannot be your scientific reason for believing that genes can't add information. They are post hoc apologetics for the a priori belief that genes cannot produce new info. And that belief is religiously based.
If you truly are not religious, then you've been tricked into thinking that this position is a scientific one.
And I've looked at the "reality reviewed" website that your links have linked too. You know, the one that says that everything else is wrong except for itself. That right there should tell you that it probably isn't right. And then when you see all the mental gymnastics that have to be performed to maintain those beliefs in the face of contradicting evidence, you should really question all the other stuff they are presenting (like moon hoaxes and all the anti-semetism).
The people that believe that stuff have their beliefs based on religion and you've been tricked into thinking that they are based on science. They are lying to you so they can control you and you're falling for it.
They do a good job of convincing laypeople that they're ideas are scientific.
I almost wonder if SO isn't one of the actual promoters of that kind of stuff. He's too well studied to just be an amatuer passerby. I wonder if he isn't testing to see if the "theories" can hold up against debate and also finding out where they fall apart to identify where more work needs to be done to hide the truth.
I'll start with a little anecdote that I find related to what you are asking. Here in Quebec, we have a TV program called 'Infoman' which is a humoristic show about what is making the News, especially on the politics side. Now about a year ago, there was this controversy about the Canadian minister of Science about if he believed in Evolution or not; He had not responded a question about this invoking 'personnal reasons'. This was the first time in about ten years that there was a controversy on the subject of evolution in Quebec, and so Infoman decided to go to a creationist conference that was held by some unknown guy with no education in science.
Of course, the point of it all was to make fun of it all, and sure enough he found a poor little grandmother who provided him with extremely funny quotes. There was one in particular which caught my attention: ''You start off in life as a little baby, all cute and beautiful. But as time goes by, you get older and uglier. So you can't go from a monkey and end up with a human''
Although her statement was extremely fallacious (she had to be over 80 years old lol) I do find it somehow relevant in this discussion. There are things in nature which seem to say everything is going downhill. Of course, the process of aging is one of them, because as you get older, you not only get uglier haha but you also become less capable, always on a downhill until you die.
This can also be seen in nature. Things break down, continuously. Walls will fall down with time, as will the pyramids eventually disappear (given a couple thousand years). Rocks become dust. etc. And so I do think that, even without any religious concept of 'the fall', this idea that everything tends to go downhill and break down in nature would have been proposed in the history of science.
Also, recently, in the last 100 years or so, the vast domain of informatics and programming has been established. Yet every experience of programming codes in this area has always showed the same conclusion: that a code will eventually break down, even with the most sophisticated error-correcting mechanism. The advent of informatics would have also pushed the idea that codes (including DNA) go 'downhill' even in a hypothetical world without the religious notion of 'The Fall'.
Now, as far as I am concerned, the real question is not 'Can information-adding mutations happen ?(theoretically they can)'.
Knowing that the DNA code, if left replicating on its own, will break down and go 'downhill', it is rather 'Can natural selection effectively turn that tedency from downhill to uphill?
PS This last part may be off-topic, if Coyote judges it to be so I'll take it away.