Brian D. Harper (bharper@magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu)
Mon, 26 Feb 1996 15:01:13 -0500



From: hpyockey@aol.com (HPYockey)
Newsgroups: talk.origins
Subject: Chemical Evolution and its non-existence
Date: 15 Jun 1995 16:47:51 -0400
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>From Information Theorist Hubert P. Yockey:

Re Chemical Evolution and its non-existence
Reply to Steve LaBonne, Daniel Ashlock, Arthur Biele, Tim Ikeda, Mark
Isaak and others.

To a certain extent Steven is correct when he says: "Except for a few
small regions that are critical for the binding of the heme and for
interaction with cytochrome oxidase, most of the protein is basically an
inert "container" for the heme." But there are other criteria on the
choice of functionally equivalent amino acids, for example, the
complicated processes of folding up. I included in my calculations all
functionally equivalent amino acids for which a reason could be given. The
primary purpose of Chapter 6 of Information Theory and Molecular Biology
is to present examples of the calculations needed to get the information
content. If Steve understood the mathematics he could carry them out for
the amino acids of his choice that, for him, would not be "far, far too

See references: Wendell A. Lim and Robert T. Sauer Nature 338 31-36 (1989)
John F. Reidhaar-Olson and Robert T. Sauer Science 241 53-57 (1988)
I referenced both papers in my book Information Theory and Molecular
Biology Cambridge 1992.

I presented calculations in Chapter 6 and in Table 6.7 that would have
answered Steve LaBonne on 31 May 1995 had he known about them. I pointed
out the range of different functionally equivalent amino acids at certain
sites in cytochrome-c and in phage lambda. Note that at sites 86 and 88 in
phage lambda all amino acids are functionally equivalent. Therefore the
information content is zero. That is, putting it colloquially, one does
not need to know anything to find a functionally equivalent amino acid at
these sites because any one will do.

Steve refers to Dawkins and his theory of evolution [The Blind
Watchmaker]. A similar example was given previously by Eigen and Schuster
Naturwissenschaften Heft 11 November 1977 see page 556.

Reading significance into meaningless forms was ancient when Hamlet toyed
with Polonius about the significance of the shapes of clouds (Hamlet, Act
III, Scene II). Failing to get Hamlet's joke, both Eigen & Schuster and
Dawkins used that scene to illustrate their scenario for the generation of
genetic messages in the genome. This reminds me of reading Rorschach
ink-blots. The interpretations tell more about the observer than about the
inkblot. Hermann Rorschach (1884-1922), Swiss psychiatrist.

I recommend Chapter 12 Information Theory and Molecular Evolution to Steve
who says that Information Scientist Hubert Yockey and Biologist Robert
Sauer simply don't understand evolution. If so I am in good company!

Daniel Ashlock wrote 2 June 1995 in reply to Arthur Biele
(arthur.biele@execmet.com) under the Aegis of: "OK the stupid errors
underlying this conclusion are:" discussing my calculations with regard to
the probability of a member of a specific protein family emerging by
chance from the primeval soup. He quoted Biele as follows: "Information
theory scientist Hubert Yockey noted that information written in DNA
molecules is not produced by any known interaction of matter.

"In fact the interaction is well known, it is a process called evolution."

My papers he cited [JTB 67 1978 and 91 1981] are essentially correct.
However, I dealt with the question of abiogenesis from a primeval soup in
much more detail in Information Theory and Molecular Biology Cambridge
University Press 1992.

The question is evolution from what? Von Neumann (1966) showed that
self-replication, whether in a machine or an organism, requires a
substantial information content at first in order to survive and
reproduce. This is discussed in Chapter 9 "Did Life Emerge by Chance from
a Primeval Soup?" I suggest you read the original book by von Neumann, one
of the greatest mathematicians of this century.

Kurt von Roeschlaub (kv07@panix.com) appears to confused about the same
calculations. I suggest he look up the discussion of Markov processes and
random walk in Chapter 1.

I recommend to both von Roeschlaub and Steve LaBonne Chapter 12
Information Theory and Molecular Evolution.

Dialectical materialists should also consult Chapter 10 Self-organization
origin of life scenarios.

I show in Chapter 8 that chemical evolution is a failed paradigm.
The absence of evidence IS evidence of absence!

Deep thinkers such as Daniel Ashlock, Steve LaBonne, von Roeschlaub and
others should read the original literature before commenting on it. Buy
the book, read it and then comment. Surely Iowa State and the University
at Albany can afford a copy of my book!

Tim Ikeda: You already have two copies in the Berkeley library. Why don't
you have a talk with Professor Tom Jukes?

I suggest everyone read Information in bits and bytes in BioEssays 17
85-88 (1995) for more on abiogenesis and the Oparinist-Lysenkoist views on
the origin of life.

Best regards. Information Theorist Hubert Yockey


Brian Harper |
Associate Professor | "It is not certain that all is uncertain,
Applied Mechanics | to the glory of skepticism" -- Pascal
Ohio State University |