Essays in Honor of OOS

| 76 Comments

Genetics has published three essays in honor of 150th anniversary of the Origin. Allen Orr’s piece provides an interesting historical perspective on the interaction between the science of evolution (or Darwinism) and the impacts on society. The Charlesworths provide an opinion on the importance of Darwin on genetics (note that they get the D-M speciation model wrong by suggesting that it’s anything but apathetic toward the role of natural selection). And Adam Wilkins weighs in on whether Darwin was a genius or a plodder.

Acknowledgement: Thanks to Richard Meisel for the blurb and the links.

76 Comments

What a welcome antidote to Ray Comfort’s specious introduction! So happy to have an institutional subscription.

There is no such thing as genius. Its just someone who did better then others who think they are pretty good. Darwin simply had a idea that made sense to him and would hopefully put him in the ranks with Newton for great explanations. I was surprised to find indeed Darwin meant to exclude any creation by God with the natural world or creation of man in any way. Darwin make a concept but did not prove it. Its not testable and so simple establishment favour has carried it forth in small circles. Darwin is probably like Newton. He got the bigger picture wrong. His evolution is only a trivial cause and effect in nature and not the origin of anything. Darwin still doesn’t make a good case to a slight majority of people in the most intelligent nation in history. Its been long enough and its time for Darwin to step aside. He was wrong after all.

I am currently unable to interpret “the D-M speciation model”. Little help here?

The article itself is behind a paywall, and the abstract doesn’t even mention speciation.

Robert Byers said: I was surprised to find indeed Darwin meant to exclude any creation by God with the natural world or creation of man in any way. Darwin make a concept but did not prove it. Its not testable and so simple establishment favour has carried it forth in small circles.

If your attempted point is that we can never completely rule out some subtle, indetectable divine role in evolution, you’re right. But who cares?

Darwin is probably like Newton. He got the bigger picture wrong. His evolution is only a trivial cause and effect in nature and not the origin of anything.

From where modern evolutionary biology sits, he seems to have gotten the big picture right. It’s a number of details that he got wrong, like the mode of inheritance.

Darwin still doesn’t make a good case to a slight majority of people in the most intelligent nation in history.

I’m trying to make sense of that, and I just can’t figure out what nation you’re talking about there. Except that I bet it’s whatever one you belong to.

Darwin still doesn’t make a good case to a slight majority of people in the most intelligent nation in history.

The disbelieve evolution in Finland?

John Harshman said:

Darwin still doesn’t make a good case to a slight majority of people in the most intelligent nation in history.

I’m trying to make sense of that, and I just can’t figure out what nation you’re talking about there. Except that I bet it’s whatever one you belong to.

As a Canadian (like Byers, I’m ashamed to say), the answer is a most emphatic no.

Byers is, quite simply, insane.

He can’t follow anyone else’s line of reasoning and his own is a drunkard’s path of rambling nonsense.

Robert Byers said:

I was surprised to find indeed Darwin meant to exclude any creation by God with the natural world or creation of man in any way.

You’re wrong about Darwin, there. I quote the last sentence of the final edition of his most famous work:

Charles Darwin said:

There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone circling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.

Robert Byers said:

Darwin make a concept but did not prove it.

We haven’t looked for “proof” in science since Galileo pointed out, almost 400 years ago, that “Geometrical exactitude should not be sought in physical proofs.” Your ideas, Robert, are four centuries behind the times.

Robert Byers said:

Darwin is probably like Newton. He got the bigger picture wrong.

What is the “bigger picture” that Newton got wrong? Classical mechanics is indeed not correct when velocities approach the speed of light. They are still an extraordinarily good approximation at speeds less than 100,000 miles per second. That is a very big picture indeed.

Robert wrote:

“Its been long enough and its time for Darwin to step aside. He was wrong after all.”

Please, enlighten us oh sage. Exactly what do you think that Darwin was worng about? Exactly why do you care about him 150 years later if he was wrong? Exaclty why should anyone care what you think?

John Harshman said:

I am currently unable to interpret “the D-M speciation model”. Little help here?

It’s the Dobzhansky-Muller model of speciation, that in geographically isolated populations substitutions accumulate that interact nonadditively, ending up bringing about reproductive isolation by making crosses inviable or sterile.

Joe Felsenstein said:

John Harshman said:

I am currently unable to interpret “the D-M speciation model”. Little help here?

It’s the Dobzhansky-Muller model of speciation, that in geographically isolated populations substitutions accumulate that interact nonadditively, ending up bringing about reproductive isolation by making crosses inviable or sterile.

Thanks. But doesn’t that generally involve selection? Not selection favoring sterility, but sterility as a byproduct of selection affecting other traits. At least that’s the conclusion of Coyne & Orr in their book Speciation. I confess I don’t know what Dobzhansky & Muller thought about it; were they claiming it was the result of drift alone?

fnxtr said:

John Harshman said:

Darwin still doesn’t make a good case to a slight majority of people in the most intelligent nation in history.

I’m trying to make sense of that, and I just can’t figure out what nation you’re talking about there. Except that I bet it’s whatever one you belong to.

As a Canadian (like Byers, I’m ashamed to say), the answer is a most emphatic no.

Well, then, what nation is he talking about?

Believe it or not he’s talking about America.

John Harshman said: Well, then, what nation is he talking about?

John Harshman said:

Joe Felsenstein said:

John Harshman said:

I am currently unable to interpret “the D-M speciation model”. Little help here?

It’s the Dobzhansky-Muller model of speciation, that in geographically isolated populations substitutions accumulate that interact nonadditively, ending up bringing about reproductive isolation by making crosses inviable or sterile.

Thanks. But doesn’t that generally involve selection? Not selection favoring sterility, but sterility as a byproduct of selection affecting other traits. At least that’s the conclusion of Coyne & Orr in their book Speciation. I confess I don’t know what Dobzhansky & Muller thought about it; were they claiming it was the result of drift alone?

No, the substitutions in the individual populations would mostly be due to selection (as these are genes that have noticeable fitness differences). So selection in each population is involved.

John Harshman said:

fnxtr said:

John Harshman said:

Darwin still doesn’t make a good case to a slight majority of people in the most intelligent nation in history.

I’m trying to make sense of that, and I just can’t figure out what nation you’re talking about there. Except that I bet it’s whatever one you belong to.

As a Canadian (like Byers, I’m ashamed to say), the answer is a most emphatic no.

Well, then, what nation is he talking about?

Well, probably, Quebec, they seem to want to be their own nation and the French have been farting in the general direction of Darwin for as long as I can recall.;-)

DS said:

Robert wrote:

“Its been long enough and its time for Darwin to step aside. He was wrong after all.”

Please, enlighten us oh sage. Exactly what do you think that Darwin was wrong about? Exactly why do you care about him 150 years later if he was wrong? Exactly why should anyone care what you think?

Robert Byers never got the memo that the evil, devil-worshiping, pagan sorcerer-cannibal-scientists don’t actually worship Darwin as the Messiah of the Devil, nor did he get the other memo that the aforementioned sorcerer-cannibal-scientists don’t actually exist.

Since I opened the D-M incompatibilities bag of worms, allow me to clarify what I meant. As Joe Felsenstein explained, the essence of the model is that allopatric populations become fixed for variants that are incompatible between the populations. For example, an ancestral population is fixed for alleles A1 and B1 at loci A & B. The population is split in two. In one population a new mutation arises at locus A (let’s call it allele A2) and fixes. In the other population a mutation arises at locus B (we’ll call it allele B2) and fixes. One population is fixed for A2 and B1 and the other population is fixed for A1 and B2. The A2 and B2 alleles have never been tested together, and they may be deleterious in combination. If they are deleterious, hybrids of the two populations (with the genotype A1/A2;B1/B2) will be less fit than the parental populations. If the populations are brought back into contact, this post-zygotic barrier could drive the selection for pre-zygotic barriers to reproduction which would lead to complete reproductive isolation.

My point was that the fixation of A2 and B2 in the two different populations need not be driven by natural selection. There is some evidence that natural selection does drive the fixation of these incompatibilities, but it’s not necessary for the model.

Rich Meisel said: My point was that the fixation of A2 and B2 in the two different populations need not be driven by natural selection. There is some evidence that natural selection does drive the fixation of these incompatibilities, but it’s not necessary for the model.

I would just add that the fact that B2 has low fitness in the presence of A2 means that the B2 allele shows a big fitness difference then. That would make it not-so-likely to be neutral in the presence of B1. It’s possible for it to have been neutral when it substituted for B1, but I wouldn’t put all my money on that.

But what mistake did the Charlesworths make?

I believe this is what you’re talking about:

“…uncovering evidence for the Dobzhanky–Muller hypothesis that natural selection is important in causing genetic differences between populations that lower the survival or fertility of F1 or F2 hybrids, as a result of deleterious epistatic interactions between alleles derived from the two populations (e.g., Barbash et al. 2003; Presgraves et al. 2003).”

Are you saying that Dobzhansky and Muller didn’t think selection was important in this process? (If so, they appear to have been wrong, but nobody is right all the time.) Or did they merely ignore the question of how those alleles became fixed? I will note that “important” isn’t the same as “necessary”. Drift is certainly a way to acquire divergence. But selection is faster.

OK, you guys made me think, my thoughts required research and now I know something I didn’t before. Thank you. However, now I have a question…

First, I’m assuming that mutation A2 or B2 only occurs in one indivual (is that valid?)

Now, if one individual has the mutation A2, in almost population of reasonable size (i.e. not 1 or 2), it is much more likely that the mutation be lost due to drift rather than fixed. The models I saw while reading all started with 50%/50% or something easy.

Correct my math here if need be. If the pop. is 100. 1 indivdual has A2, then the probability of that mutation appearing in the second generation is 1/100. So, there’s a 99% chance that the mutation is lost in the next generation.

Isn’t it much more likely to become fixed if there is some selection advantage?

Please forgive if I’m being dense.

Kevin, the probability of fixation of a new mutation is increased if there is a selective advantage. In a finite population, however, even most advantageous mutations will be lost. That said, as populations diverge, they will become differentiated at many loci, some fixed by neutral drift and others by natural selection.

I think the neutrality of the substitutions probably depends on the functional roles of the genes involved.

The mistake the Charlesworths made was saying that the D-M model predicts “that natural selection is important in causing genetic differences between populations”. It does not such thing as far as I can tell.

Forgive my ignorance, as I’m not a population geneticist. But what’s the reference for the D-M model? And should I suppose that this model didn’t consider the reasons for fixation of incompatible alleles, and that the Charlesworths’ error was in suggesting that it did?

Also, how are you Rich Meisel and Matt Young at the same time?

My take on it is that the Charlesworths were in error in suggesting that the model says anything about the reasons for fixation of the the incompatible alleles.

Here is the original paper from Dobzhanksy: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/art[…]/PMC1208664/

I don’t think Muller’s is online, but it’s titled “isolating mechanisms, evolution and temperature”.

Allen Orr has a nice review of it here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8978022

That (Orr) was a great review. Henceforth we should call it “the Bateson model”. I see your point, though Dobzhansky (as summarized by Orr) does seem to mention that fixation of the new alleles may be selectively favored. (And in fact selection would be likely to cause hybrid sterility long before neutral evolution had a chance at it.)

Rich Meisel said:

My take on it is that the Charlesworths were in error in suggesting that the model says anything about the reasons for fixation of the the incompatible alleles.

I’m less sure. John Harshman says (in the posting after Meisel’s)

in fact selection would be likely to cause hybrid sterility long before neutral evolution had a chance at it.)

If a mutant allele is neutral because the substitutions in it just don’t have enough effect on the functioning of the protein to cause a difference in fitness smaller than 1/(4N), then would they have enough effect to cause problems when the population was crossed with the other one? I suspect not.

I said: If a mutant allele is neutral because the substitutions in it just don’t have enough effect on the functioning of the protein to cause a difference in fitness smaller than 1/(4N), then would they have enough effect to cause problems when the population was crossed with the other one? I suspect not.

Oops, I meant “larger than 1/(4N)”.

Joe, you seem to be saying that if an allelic difference is neutral in one genetic background, it must be neutral in all genetic backgrounds. And hey, let’s not forget external environmental differences too.

John Harshman said:

Joe, you seem to be saying that if an allelic difference is neutral in one genetic background, it must be neutral in all genetic backgrounds. And hey, let’s not forget external environmental differences too.

Yup. If neutral in one background it at least is unlikely to have a big effect in another. Obviously there are exceptions to that (as you imply). But if it is because a substitution just doesn’t change the chemical properties of the protein very much, then if neutral in one context, more likely to be at most nearly-neutral in another.

Most of what I know about the genetics of speciation is derived from whatever the last book I read says. And the last book I read was Coyne & Orr. They mention some Drosophila studies in which there was significant isolation after many generations of population separation in identical, unchanging environments. That suggests to me that drift is capable of doing the trick, if allowed enough time.

… and Lot offers them his daughters instead.

Lovely.

… and then later on in another part of the forest, his daughters wait until he’s drunk and then jump him.

The people who believe this story are very often the same ones wailing about The Sanctity Of Marriage. Sheesh.

fnxtr said: The people who believe this story are very often the same ones wailing about The Sanctity Of Marriage. Sheesh.

There is currently a comprehensive but succinct summary of the Biblical understanding of marriage to be had at www.bettybowers.com. I hadn’t been there in a while, but visited whilst following up on an article about Poe’s Law.

… and then later on in another part of the forest, his daughters wait until he’s drunk and then jump him.

Lot and his two daughters escaped the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Afterward, his daughters–concerned for their family line–tricked their father into sleeping with them with drink. The older daughter birthed Moab, who was the father of the Moabites. The younger, Ben-Ammi, the father of the Ammonites.

With some success. The Moabites and Ammonites were neighboring kingdoms in what is now Jordan.

It is thought that the writers of Genesis were making a joke and spreading malicious rumors and propaganda. That the neighboring kingdoms were founded by two acts of father daughter incest.

Genesis is full of anachromisms and propaganda. It has characters riding camels thousands of years before they were introduced to the area and meeting the Philistines who didn’t even settle the area until 1200 BC.

The consensus among scholars is that Genesis was composed in near final form around the 7th and 8th century BCE by people who knew they were writing a meta narrative of legends, myths, and propaganda. They didn’t believe it literally any more than we believe our historical fiction.

D. P. Robin said:

Just a thought; has anyone seen Toidel Mahoney and Jed Smock in together?

dpr

Has anyone seen Toidel Mahoney and a banana together?

If God gave us the banana, why did he teach the chimps the superior method of opening them (by pinching the narrow end to split the skin)?

harold said: He seems to think that he only has two grandparents! 2*50 + 2*25 = 150.

What is so unusual about it? It just means he is from West Virginia.

It is thought that the writers of Genesis were making a joke and spreading malicious rumors and propaganda. That the neighboring kingdoms were founded by two acts of father daughter incest.

Not a joke by any means. Surely the original myth was intended to demonize Israel’s enemies by saying that they descended from incestuous relationships. Something like calling someone a whoreson, I suppose.

This comment has been moved to The Bathroom Wall.

Dan said:

Robert Byers said:

I was surprised to find indeed Darwin meant to exclude any creation by God with the natural world or creation of man in any way.

You’re wrong about Darwin, there. I quote the last sentence of the final edition of his most famous work:

Charles Darwin said:

There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone circling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.

I will accept a little correction from the Darwin quote of creator. Yet what struck me in his writings was a clear intent to deny any aspect of a created man. He attacked the usual ideas put forth to show mans divine origin in thinking. He directly strove to show all claims in thinking or personality about a divine soul were in fact from selection pressures. Clearly denying any action by a creator in the present natural world and from whence it came. This breath stuff would not change this. i believe he wanted a great Newton like equation for all of living life including man and so all from natural selection. Man was a major target and not a afterthought of his as one might thing just from reading the first book.

The “bigger picture’ Newton got wrong I simply understand from einsteins comment that Newtons idea was just a special case within a the bigger idea from Einstein. The tiny bit I read from Einsteins writing clearly showed Einstein saying he expanded on newton in important ways. So a bigger picture where newton fell short. Thats all I know.

Clearly denying any action by a creator in the present natural world and from whence it came

Instead of complaining about what you think Darwin meant to say 150 years ago, why don’t you write your own book describing any evidence you have that affirms “any action by a creator in the present natural world and from whence it came”? Why is it that creationist maunderings only ever whine about evolution, and never put forward any scientifically relevant argument of evidence of their own?

Shorter Robert Byers: “[Word salad], therefore jesus.”

DS said:

Robert wrote:

“Its been long enough and its time for Darwin to step aside. He was wrong after all.”

Please, enlighten us oh sage. Exactly what do you think that Darwin was worng about? Exactly why do you care about him 150 years later if he was wrong? Exaclty why should anyone care what you think?

That natural selection on mutation plus time is the origin of living organisms in the pas and today. He’s wrong. This is the hear of darwins birth or somthing they are going on about. He is the face and thoughts and gets the credit for the great error of evolution. so he is a worthy target for god guys everywhere.

he is a worthy target for god guys everywhere

Fortunately for the survival of the human race, science doesn’t care a whit about the incoherent blatherings of “god guys” like you. The methods of science lead to the results of science, and if you don’t like either, you are perfectly free to ramble on senselessly about it for as long as you want. It doesn’t change anything, and nobody cares.

Ravilyn.Sanders said:

harold said: He seems to think that he only has two grandparents! 2*50 + 2*25 = 150.

What is so unusual about it? It just means he is from West Virginia.

What!?!?!? Ouch! That was so mean. lol

Robert tried to write:

That natural selection on mutation plus time is the origin of living organisms in the pas and today. He’s wrong. This is the hear of darwins birth or somthing they are going on about. He is the face and thoughts and gets the credit for the great error of evolution. so he is a worthy target for god guys everywhere.

yours is wrong. yous don’t to know nothin. i says darwins so right for you ignorant. You’s wrong in the pas and todays. This is the hear of you birth or somthin yo is goin on abouts. You is the face and thoughts of nonsenses. you will never gets credit for the great errors of you balogny. you is worthy of target on yous heads.

Do you find this agrument convincing? No? Well now you see how I feel about the shit you crapped all over. Go away Robert. You are an embaressment to fifth graders everywhere.

DS: That would have been so much better without the spelling error in the last sentence. Didn’t you notice the dotted red line under “embaressment”?

Everyone: It’s annoyingly easy for creationist trolls to hijack threads. Can’t we make it a little more difficult for them? 70-some messages and only one of them on topic after the first creationist strike.

Instead of complaining about what you think Darwin meant to say 150 years ago, why don’t you write your own book describing any evidence you have that affirms “any action by a creator in the present natural world and from whence it came”?

From what I read, there are many who sincerely believe that their god created evolution, as the means for achieving His divine purposes, in His time frame.

Evidence either for or against this position is impossible to collect in principle. Granted, it’s simpler just to say life as we know it started from and changes through natural feedback processes, without adding the (unnecessary) addendum that “oh yeah, AND there’s this indetectible supernatural guidance controlling the process”, but biology notoriously ignores Occam’s Razor anyway.

So it’s not accepting divine oversight that’s irrational, it’s constricting that oversight in ways that evidence refutes. I have no problem with the notion of digging as deeply as possible into the operation of reality as a means of understanding (a small part of) the Mind Of God.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on November 19, 2009 4:47 PM.

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