• MikeL
    638
    I just want to pull this thread into a new OP for two reasons. I have been crashing Wayfarer's OP and Pneumenon's OP which is not fair on them, and secondly just in case there are some biologists or anybody else out there who might not know this discussion is happening and wants to join.

    A couple of day's ago Rich and Metaphysician Undercover alerted me to the idea of Creative Evolution, or the Creative Mind. It is very appealing.

    It suggests that the primary driver for evolution to occur is not a Survival of the Fittest Model but rather a Creative Evolution Model. That life actively strives to throw out new variants and in doing maximises its survival. This is different to Survival of the Fittest where variants are not encouraged by evolution but become useful nonetheless in times of great change.

    I have posted part of the thread (which I cleaned up a little to make clearer) that I think explains the position best. It uses divergent evolution - where one species has branched into many various species over time to illustrate the example.

    "I take your point that divergence can be accounted for in the Survival of the Fittest model, but under a Survival of the Fittest model I would be looking for where is the selection pressure to do so was when delicious leaves and grass were already in abundance. The ancestor possums weren't attacking each other so there was no need to seek out new niches to live in. There's no adaptive advantage here. There's only maintaining the status quo, so why risk reshuffling of the DNA too much.

    I guess the Survival of the Fittest model would contend there is equal adaptive advantage for the kangaroo, wombat and koala, so they were all selected for. Normally the environmental forces would have wiped the variants out of existence, except in this case there is a lack of them (your global constraints). The mutant variants got lucky and be damned with thoughts of adaptive advantage.

    When a species is well adapted to its environment though the Survival of the Fittest model would suggest that DNA should be trying to minimize the amount of variant alleles in the population to help ensure its continued survival. It should be increasing the conserved regions of DNA, constraining itself so that it sticks with a winning combination. Allele diversity in the population should fall, or at the least the increase should only be a gradual creep.

    The Creative Evolution Model would contend also that a lack of global constraints enabled the survival of a diverse progeny. It would suggest though, that rather than being an aberration of nature that somehow got out of its intrinsic DNA constraints, it instead would have been almost impossible to stop the variance from arising because variance is the sole driver of life. The organism would have been looking to maximise its amount of variance. For this model to work there would need to be a highly conserved (constrained) portion of DNA and a highly recombinant area. We would expect the allele count in the population to rise rapidly until new species are born."
  • Wayfarer
    4.5k
    Henri Bergson's major popular work was called 'Creative Evolution', and was published at the beginning of the last century. At the time, Bergson was a prominent public intellectual, but nowadays his name is hardly mentioned in University courses - you wouldn't expect to see Bergson included in a general philosophy curriculum (perhaps unfortunately). Bergson was associated with 'elan vital', which he saw as a creative spirit or energy, but that idea is routinely ridiculed (again, perhaps unfortunately) by subsequent mainstream biology. In any case, the Darwinian 'war and strife of all against all' is somewhat at variance with the 'creative evolution' idea', and 'nature red in tooth and claw' is the favoured model.

    The organism would have been looking to maximise its amount of variance.MikeL

    That idea, perhaps, has a precedent in the very ancient notion of the 'pleroma'. Whilst that word has subsequently taken on a number of religious or esoteric meanings, it was originally associated with the saying that 'nature abhors a vacuum'. The idea was that, as being was greater than non-being, then the divine intelligence would tend to produce whatever thing could possibly exist, as the non-being of that thing was an imperfection. So the 'pleroma' manifested as the idea of the 'principle of plenitude', and came to be associated with the Goddess Fortuna, who used to carry the Horn of Plenty, from which the abundance used to spring forth:

    fortuna.jpg

    So such ideas have an ancient provenance. Alas, they're not of much appeal to scientific biology, but they're very interesting from the viewpoint of cultural studies. (Might be worth perusing the Wikipedia entry on 'orthogenesis' too.)
  • Agustino
    8.3k
    And she is blind too, for Fortune shines on the wicked and on the good.
  • Wayfarer
    4.5k
    That's the idea, I think. Luck be my lady, tonight.
  • StreetlightX
    1.4k
    A preliminary point: despite the popularity of the phrase, natural selection does not select for 'the fittest', but for the 'fit enough'. That is, evolutionary pressure is always somewhat 'baggy' - within the constraints it imposes, it leaves a great deal of space for variation. Hence the somewhat misleading nature of the phrase 'survival of the fittest'. It's more like 'the survival of the good enough', or 'the survival of the adequate'. This should already stand as a clue that one should not see natural selection as a mechanism that is somehow 'opposed' to variation. That is, it is not - and never has been - a matter of pitching a 'natural selection' model against a 'creative evolution model'. Rather natural selection has always worked in tandem - symbiotically, as it were - with mechanisms of variation in order to produce and shore-up diversity.

    In fact, what is here called the 'creative evolution model' has been the subject of biological investigation for quite some time now, insofar as it's becoming widely acknowledged that variation is not wholly explained by natural selection alone, but a host of other, interlocking evolutionary mechanisms. The key difference is that in the biological models, 'creativity' is not some kind of primordial ontological force (as with vitalism), but a product or outcome of evolution. The key term used here is evolvability: this being the capacity of a biological system to engender novel heritable traits, a capacity that can be selected for in evolution.

    How this works can be pretty complex, but the abridged version is that a hell of a lot happens in the 'space' left by the looseness ('baggyness') of natural selection which, when taken together, all help to produce variation. The mechanisms that underlie these happenings don't get as much popular press as natural selection - genotype networks, phenotypic plasticity, biological robustness, sexual selection, to name a few - but the cool thing is that if you study them, you realize that they harness the looseness of natural selection so that they work 'with' and not against it to drive evolution. The long and short of it is that natural selection needs to be understood as one component among an entire assemblage of evolutionary mechanisms which, only when taken together in complementary fashion, constitute the full picture of how evolution works.

    (Some references: Andreas Wager - The Arrival of the Fittest, Mary Jane West-Eberhard - Developmental Plasticity and Evolution, Richard Prum - The Evolution of Beauty).
  • MikeL
    638
    It sounds pretty bang on with creative evolution. Those ancients may not have had the instrumentation of today, but they could deduce better than anyone.

    I would be interested in comparative allele comparisons using the two ideas, so long as we could agree on a baseline. I think someone should be able to test the theory.
  • BlueBanana
    366
    When a species is well adapted to its environment though the Survival of the Fittest model would suggest that DNA should be trying to minimize the amount of variant alleles in the population to help ensure its continued survival.MikeL

    This is not true. Survival of the fittest is not only a model, it's a factor that does try to eliminate variance, but there are other factors.
  • MikeL
    638
    Thanks StreetlightX.

    It's a little sneaky to say that creativity was selected for, although it made me smile. Survival of the Fittest swallows Creation. That would have made a better title for the OP.

    There is a distinction though between the two which is in the opening OP. In a situation where an animal can diverge evolutionaryly, without interference, does the current model of evolution predict increased conservation of successful alleles or increased prevelance of alleles in the population?
  • MikeL
    638
    There are other factors outside of Survival of the Fittest theory that seek to enhance variability, is that the position? Can you elaborate a little more for me?
  • StreetlightX
    1.4k
    There is a distinction though between the two which is in the opening OP. In a situation where an animal can diverge evolutionarily, without interference, does the current model of evolution predict increased conservation of successful alleles or increased prevelance of alleles in the population?MikeL

    The trick is to think in terms of genotype and phenotype instead of simply alleles, because what matters is not just any variation, but heritable variation. Moreover, it's important to think at a population-level, rather than at the level of genetic sequence because the looseness of natural selection allows for a crap ton of unexpressed genetic variation which is 'hidden' from selection pressure, across a 'fit-enough' population. This ability for variation to 'hide' from selection pressure is in fact what allows so much variation to take place in the first place. Check out this paper by Andreas Wanger that addresses what I think your concerns are. From the abstract:

    "Mutational robustness and evolvability, a system's ability to produce heritable variation, harbour a paradoxical tension. On one hand, high robustness implies low production of heritable phenotypic variation. On the other hand, both experimental and computational analyses of neutral networks indicate that robustness enhances evolvability. ... To resolve the tension, one must distinguish between robustness of a genotype and a phenotype. I confirm that genotype (sequence) robustness and evolvability share an antagonistic relationship. In stark contrast, phenotype (structure) robustness promotes structure evolvability. A consequence is that finite populations of sequences with a robust phenotype can access large amounts of phenotypic variation while spreading through a neutral network. Population-level processes and phenotypes rather than individual sequences are key to understand the relationship between robustness and evolvability." (my bolding).
  • MikeL
    638
    Thanks StreetlightX. I'll check it out.
  • Rich
    2.1k
    The go to person with all problems relating to current biological theory and an alternative to it would be Rupert Sheldrake. Numerous videos on Youtube. Here is one:

    https://youtu.be/MtgLklXZo3U

  • Rich
    2.1k
    Of course, one must ask why would a piece of matter with no consciousness seek to survive? Being this, where is any evidence of such a thing? That something survives?? But it also doesn't! Why hasn't all life evolved into rocks following the course of entropy?

    Anyway, here is Sheldrake's take on the belief system of science: Naturally the scientists sitting on TED's Board and representing the funding interests had it banned promoting 1.3 million views.

    https://youtu.be/JKHUaNAxsTg
  • Harry Hindu
    749
    It suggests that the primary driver for evolution to occur is not a Survival of the Fittest Model but rather a Creative Evolution Model. That life actively strives to throw out new variants and in doing maximises its survival. This is different to Survival of the Fittest where variants are not encouraged by evolution but become useful nonetheless in times of great change.MikeL
    But what would make some variant useful under the CEM, if not great environmental change?

    It seems that you are arguing that mutations crop up as the result of some intelligence, instead of the random miscopying of genes.

    Most mutations are a hinderence to survival, and are rejected in the current environmental conditions and most other conditions that exist on Earth, past, present, and future. So where is the intelligence in that? Is there an intelligece behind the changing of environments throughout Earth's geological history? You'd have account for that change and the cause of it. Is it the same intelligence evolving organisms, or are there two intelligences - one that controls the evolution of organisms, and one that controls the changing environment and both are in a never-ending battle against each other?
  • Rich
    2.1k
    But what would make some variant useful under the CEM, if not great environmental change?Harry Hindu

    Usefulness is not the guage of creativity. Creativity is interesting onto itself. Most of my life is spent creating. This is why I study the arts. It is precisely the same creativity that a child feels when playing with blocks.

    "Mutations" are just experiments. "Let's see what will happen if I do this?"

    Life is no more complicated than observing what is actually on occurring. Of course, out of a desire to be creative, one can create all kinds of explanations. However, one creates all kinds of issues in ones life if one chooses to deny and suppress the creative/intelligent aspect that permeates the whole of life.
  • BlueBanana
    366
    Apart from the survival of the fittest the only factor I can think of is randomness (including mutations), even when accounting for humans meddling with the situation on purpose, so I'll consider those the only relevant factors.

    From just logical reasoning we know the survival of the fittest to be true. The reason for your situation is that it doesn't quarantee that only the fittest survive, and not only because the fittest one can't exist as fitness is a spectrum. The less fit an individual is, the less likely it is to survive, and the more variance there is, the more there are unoptimal individuals. Thus, as the species in stable conditions approaches their optimal form, the weaker the survival of the fittest as a force driving them towards that stage of existence gets.

    Meanwhile, randomness is independent of everything. It always remains equally random. Therefore the species approaches the stage of equilibrium with such variance that the sum of forces is zero.

    I'm not saying that the creative evolution is wrong, though, but if an explanation is correct, it must be compatible with other explanations proven correct.
  • StreetlightX
    1.4k
    Apart from the survival of the fittest the only factor I can think of is randomness (including mutations), even when accounting for humans meddling with the situation on purpose, so I'll consider those the only relevant factors.BlueBanana

    Again, it's not survival of the fittest but survival of the adequate. And as for other factors, again, to list: sexual selection, niche construction, phenotypic plasticity, developmental robustness, evolvability, genotype networks, genetic 'mutations', gene flow, symbiogenesis, horizontal gene transfer, artificial selection, population isolation - all of these and more can and do 'factor' as relevant mechanisms of evolution.
  • Rich
    2.1k
    Again, it's not survival of he fittest but survival of the adequateStreetlightX

    All of these definitions come without any definition. What is fittest? What is adequate?

    The terms are self-defining. It is adequate until it no longer is.

    All of life is an experiment and we learn from it. Stephen Hawkings had survived those doctors who pronounced his early death. Life is going forward without knowing what will be unfold. There is no fittest or adequate, just experimentation.
  • StreetlightX
    1.4k
    What is fittest? What is adequate?Rich

    The term is relational of course - what is adequate depends on the environment in which a species finds itself. The idea is that evolution has contingency built into it - all life is indeed an experiment, 'going forward without knowing what will happen'. This is just the lesson of evolution.
  • Rich
    2.1k
    The term is relational of course - what is adequate depends on the environment in which a species finds itself.StreetlightX

    All to admire the innumerable variations of all life that inhabits all environments both internal and external. The creative mind, as in football plays, comes up with an enormous variety of ways to play the game, and like a good football player, is always adjusting as the play and game unfolds.
  • BlueBanana
    366
    Again, it's not survival of the fittest but survival of the adequate.StreetlightX

    In a sense, as even the adequate have a possibility of surviving, but in the long term the fittest have a greater possibility of that, which is what the term surivival of the fittest means. Not that everything except the best dies within a generation.

    And as for other factors, again, to list: sexual selection, niche construction, phenotypic plasticity, developmental robustness, evolvability, genotype networks, genetic 'mutations', gene flow, symbiogenesis, horizontal gene transfer, artificial selection, population isolation - all of these and more can and do 'factor' as relevant mechanisms of evolution.StreetlightX

    Most of these fall under the roofs of either randomness or fitness, as an example the artificial selection which I considered mentioning. I should also mention that I meant factors to specifically the variety of specimen within a species, but there are indeed some I hadn't considered.
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