Re: Orr on No Free Lunch

From: Josh Bembenek (
Date: Mon Aug 19 2002 - 13:24:38 EDT

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    I'd like to comment breifly on the Orr review. The following paragraph
    supposedly disproves Dembski's efforts:

    "The problem with all this is so simple that I hate to bring it up. But here
    goes: Darwinism isn't trying to reach a prespecified target. Darwinism, I
    regret to report, is sheer cold demographics. Darwinism says that my
    sequence has more kids than your sequence and so my sequence gets common and
    yours gets rare. If there's another sequence out there that has more kids
    than mine, it'll displace me. But there's no pre-set target in this game.
    (Why would evolution care about a pre-set place? Are we to believe that
    evolution is just inordinately fond of ATGGCAGGCAGTÖ?) Dembski can pick a
    prespecified target, average over all fitness functions, and show that no
    algorithm beats blind search until he's blue in the face. The calculation is
    irrelevant. Evolution isn't searching for anything and Darwinism is not
    therefore a search algorithm."

    There is a key simple flaw with Orr's analysis. His simple idea that my
    sequence has more kids than yours is filled with hidden goals or targets.
    To have any sequence generate "more" kids you must have met the following

    1. Stable, Biologically active sequence.
    2. Sequence able to replicate.
    3. Sequence capable of being improved.

    In Dawkins book he mentions histone 3, a protein of about 100 residues which
    change in only two or three positions throughout all the diversity of life
    and throughout "evolution." This sequence meets the first two requirements
    but has never been improved since it was first happened upon. This data
    tells us that precursors to this sequence must not have been active because
    the sequence is NOT malleable- all residues must be fixed for the protein to
    perform the job it currently holds. In the end Orr is assuming that we can
    start with criteria 1 and 2 firmly in place and then hypothesize about 3.
    Assuming that an inactive sequence can generate any kids at all as an answer
    to the derivation of novel functional genetic sequence completely misses the

    Josh Bembenek

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