Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Selection Equals Creativity

I can't remember whether I specifically posted about how, in spite of other evolutionary factors being recognized by some leading biologists as driving adaptation and speciation and diversity and even innovation, and selection is still commonly held to be the key driver of creativity and information

Take Darwinian evolution evangelist Kenneth Miller:
Just three things: selection, replication, and mutation... Where the information 'comes from' is, in fact, from the selective process itself. [quoted here]
Stephen Jay Gould would've called this hyper-selectionism.  Gould seemed to think though that selection drove the changes and the really neat stuff (or a lot of it) resulted from side effects of the adaptive forces.

Another thought-provoking Richard Dawkins quote from the same source:
And it's also a smooth gradient, not a sudden leap from a flat plain in the phase space. Or rather it must be a smooth gradient in all those cases where evolution has actually happened. Maybe there are theoretical optima which cannot be reached because the climb is too precipitous. [quoted here]
It must be a smooth gradient.  Wait, how do we know it's a smooth gradient?  Because the smooth gradient is necessary for evolution to occur in those instances.  The peaks with no convenient reliable trail of breadcrumbs leading selection to it can only be theoretical optima.  Glad we got that cleared up.

Wait a minute!  Is he saying we don't need a multi-verse of 10^200 universes to reach these optima?  Why do some scientists invoke this ultimate deus ex machina at all?  Because of their lack of faith in selection.  But Dawkins is a true believer, and he staggers not at the promise of Darwin.

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