Muller received the Nobel Prize for “for the discovery that mutations can be induced by x-rays”. He studied the effects of mutation on populations, and indirectly spawned ideas which were elaborated in the book Genetic Entropy by Cornell geneticist John Sanford.
The theory of genetic entropy has the potential to overturn Darwinism on empirical grounds alone. Darwinism argues for inevitable progress, genetic entropy argues the opposite.
The thesis of genetic entropy can be explored by considering the amount of mutation in the human genome at present. Muller offers his thoughts:
it would in the end be far easier and more sensible to manufacture a complete man de novo, out of appropriately chosen raw materials, than to try to fashion into human form those pitiful relics which remained…
it is evident that the natural rate of mutation of man is so high, and his natural rate of reproduction so low, that not a great deal of margin is left for selection…
it becomes perfectly evident that the present number of children per couple cannot be great enough to allow selection to keep pace with a mutation rate of 0.1..if, to make matters worse, u should be anything like as high as 0.5…, our present reproductive practices would be utterly out of line with human requirements.
Hermann Muller quoted by John Sanford
Appendix 1, Genetic Entropy
“u” is the mutation rate. As John Sanford observes, Darwinian selection cannot keep pace with reality. Deterioration of the genome seems to be in evidence, and the efficacy of Darwinian mechanisms has been essentially falsified with respect to the human genome. Here is an excerpt of Sanford commenting on Muller’s work:
Muller calculated that the human fertility rate of that time (1950) could not deal with a mutation rate of 0.1. Since that time, we have learned that the mutation rate is a least 1,000-fold higher than he thought. Furthermore, fertility rates have declined sharply since then.
Walter ReMine was kind enough to point me to a more modern day version of Muller’s concerns: Why have we not died 100 times over? by Kondrashov (also from Cornell).
It is well known that when s, the selection coefficient against a deleterious mutation, is below 1/4 ~ Ne , where Ne is the effective population size, the expected frequency of this mutation is ~ 0.5, if forward and backward mutation rates are similar. Thus, if the genome size, G, in nucleotides substantially exceeds the Ne of the whole species, there is a dangerous range of selection coefficients, 1/ G less than s less than 1/4 N e . Mutations with s within this range are neutral enough to accumulate almost freely, but are still deleterious enough to make an impact at the level of the whole genome. In many vertebrates Ne ~ 10 , while G ~ 10 , so that the dangerous range includes more than four orders of magnitude. If substitutions at 10% of all nucleotide sites have selection coefficients within this range with the mean 10 , an average individual carries ~ 100 lethal equivalents. Some data suggest that a substantial fraction of nucleotides typical to a species may, indeed, be suboptimal.
Darwinian evolution doesn’t clean out all the bad in a population. Kondrashov’s observations discredit Darwin’s implicit claim of inevitable progess and the supposed survival of the fittest. The problem is that if genetic entropy is true, the ancestors are the fittest not the decendants. In that sense, the fittest don’t survive. To use Muller’s words, what remains in the end are not the fittest, but “pitiful relics”.
Kondrashov offers a supposed “fix” to the paradoxes so as to bolster Darwin’s failing theory. His fix is an appeal to “synergistic epsitasis”, but Sanford responds to this supposed “fix”:
one will encounter the term “synergistic epistasis”. When I first encountered this phrase I was very impressed. In fact, I was intimidated. It seemed to speak of a very deep understanding, a deep knowledge, which I did not possess. As I have seen it used more, and have understood these issues better, I believe I understand the term better. It is a sophisticated-sounding expression, signifying nothing. It has all the appearance of deliberate obfuscation. Literally translated, synergistic epistasis means “interactive interaction.”
Genetic Entropy by John C. Sanford is available at Amazon. I wrote a little bit about Sanford 2 years ago here: Respected Cornell geneticist rejects Darwinism.