Recently, Mark Frank and I had a brief dialogue in the OP,“Didn’t everyone already know this about dogs?”
I’ve decided to clean it up a bit and re-post it because after my last question, I received no responses. At the outset, I would like to say that I place no blame about lack of responses on Mark Frank or anyone else in the last OP (as my post was rather quickly buried.)
Having said that, in this OP I would like somebody to address the question.
After one go around where I’d suggested that “success” should be counted as an increase in genetic information, Mark Frank corrected me, writing:
In biology success is breeding in the available environment. As a result there are about 400 million dogs in the world. There are about 200,000 wolves and they are extinct or endangered in many geographies. It is irrelevant how they would thrive without us. We are the dog’s environment and they have exploited that very effectively getting us to care for them by manipulating our parental instincts (and also providing some services).
I had in mind the biologist’s definition of the success of a species. This is purely and simply the species ability to reproduce in the world as it is . . . The genome is only relevant to the extent that it contributes to this. Any other definition of success leads to the odd result that a species could be highly “successful” but failing to survive.
In both cases, Mark Frank references “(I)n biology” and “the biologist’s” definition, so I will stipulate for the sake of this post that the convention in biology is that a species’ success is simply increase in number.
My response to Mark Frank:
According to your definition, evolutionary success has only to do with the genome (of the organism in question) so far as it informs the ability to reproduce “in the world as it is.” Is that about right?
In the case of domesticated dogs, I am informed that there is a loss of genetic information. And, you stated that dogs enjoy (numerical) success. Dogs, whether by breed or by number, are successful because of their responses to specific environmental nuances (e.g. we like dogs that chase sheep without eating them, so we feed them kibble and help them reproduce). This is easily measured by the increase in number of dogs (as compared to wolves, for example). One might even suggest that even if the narrative concerning sheep and kibble is just that, an unscientific narrative. Numbers don’t lie. Is that about right?
Michael Behe in his controversial book, The Edge of Evolution, writes that such is generally the case for malaria-resistance — that the battle involves organisms “enjoying” loss of genomic info, to better get over on malaria so they can live to reproduce, (oh, and in turn, strains of plasmodium falciparum are doing likewise, sacrificing function, via loss of genetic information, to reproduce) –all of this only when necessary, or as Mark Frank suggested, “in the world as it is.”
Please, correct me if I am wrong, but don’t most (all?) scientists in the field agree with Behe’s assessment? That is, the “trench warfare” described by Behe is not actually that controversial, but an accepted finding.
It seems to me that an organism’s response to the environment (“in the world as it is”) involves dumping, if necessary, genomic information to succeed. Whether the selection is artificial or natural, the far, far, easier pathway for organisms is to lose genomic information. In fact, this is the dominant, almost universal, response according to scientific studies. . .
How could these more immediate pathways of losses of information possibly square with the evolutionary claim that natural selection (along with its numerical “success”) accounts for increased information in the genome, not only in a given organism, but for all organisms over the entire history of life on earth?
I thank you in advance for your considered responses.