Darwinism Mathematics

The price of cherry picking for addicted gamblers and believers in Darwinism

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One evening at the Fitz Tunica casino, a lady playing blackjack at my table confided to me, “I’ve lost $500,000 playing blackjack. The entire inheritance my father left me,”. Her bankruptcy is like the bankruptcy of Darwinism.

fitz tunica
[Fitzgerald’s casino in Tunica, Mississippi]

Let us call her Jane, as in Jane Doe. As I tried to collect myself at the shock of this revelation, not knowing what to say, I asked, “did you have fun?”

blackjack winners

Jane’s eyes beamed as if she had just seen angels, “Yes! I’d do it over again. The fun was like nothing I’d ever known betting $500 a hand.” 😯

Her story is not unique. Dealers tell me of patrons losing hundreds of thousands. One lady won $2,000,000 in a slot machine and then lost it all and went bankrupt. Then we have the high profile types in the news: Philadelphia Eagle’s owner Leonard Tose who lost $50,000,000 at the blackjack tables, Fry Electronics VP Omar Siddiqui who lost $120,000,000 in blackjack and baccarat, and heir of Oriental Trading Company Terrance Watanabe who lost $127,000,000 at the blackjack tables and slot machines.

At first I was reluctant to reveal in another thread, my somewhat checkered past in the casinos, but so many lessons in math and life were learned in those experiences. I also realized the gambling anecdotes would help spice up rather dry formalities of the ID discussion, and so I felt it was time to come out of the closet on those activities, because there are so many tales to tell that provide a unique perspective on the Darwin vs. Design debate.

These tales illustrate how people can be enamored with cherry picked data. Their brains enjoy the thrill of winning and somehow erase memories of their losses until it’s too late. Such are people with gambling problems, and such are those addicted to cherry picking data in defense of Darwinism.

So what does it take to lose $500,000 in playing blackjack? A Basic Strategy player at first has a fighting chance because her approximate disadvantage to the house (the casino) is a mere 0.5% per hand. With such a disadvantage a player like Jane can have a phenomenal run of luck lasting thousands of hands. Using CVCX software, I calculated if Jane had one standard deviation of good luck, she could ride good luck for 5000 hands and still be a winner. But over time, the casino’s house edge will slowly grind her into the ground.

What is the average number of hands needed for the casino to fleece her? Assuming she is betting an average of $500 a hand:

$500,000 / ($500 per hand * 0.5% ) = 200,000 hands

Playing 100 hands an hour, half a million dollars bought Jane 2,000 hours of “fun”. I tried to explain the math to friends and family members and tell them, “stay away from the casinos, especially slot machines — they have a 9% house edge.” Instead they persist in their delusional views.

Like Jane they relate stories of the money they won and almost forget the money they lost, but I know and the casinos know this tendency toward delusion. Were these people uneducated? No! One was an MBA in finance. I wanted to smack him and say, “of all people you should know, you can’t beat the games the way you’re playing.” Another was a PhD electrical engineering student at Urbana-Champaign. But the commitment to delusion is too powerful — expectation values, statistics, truth takes second place to what you want to believe. Reminds me of those who proudly exclaim, “we create our own meaning.”

Maybe their only reasonable hope of success is betting on the lottery, progressive jackpots, or multiverses. But those aren’t rational bets based on expectation, but rather desperation.

So Jane wins $500 on one hand and then loses $500 the next. The process goes on with glorious win streaks followed by miserable losing streaks, but all the while the house slowly fleeces the life out of Jane through the law of large numbers and casino expected value of 0.5%. The outcome is gambler’s ruin. If she had an accountant looking over her shoulder while she played the accounting would look on average something like this:

Wins: 49,750,000
Losses: 50,250,000
Net: -500,000

A little sloppiness in accounting and one could be deeply convinced one is a winner, the delusion is overpowering enough to ruin gamblers. Like addicted gamblers, Darwin’s delusion is driven by cherry picked data.

Suffice to say, the problem of cherry picking is a topic that must be explored. It can confirm or falsify the ID interpretation of No Free Lunch theorems. If Darwinists refuse to explore it, it only gives the impression they don’t want or are incapable of having their books properly audited for their claims. They rather put forward finches and peppered moths and antibiotic resistance (which, by the way, is loss of existing function in order to gain fitness not acquisition of new function to gain fitness) — they rather put forward these few examples of Darwin’s “successes” versus the numerous examples of Darwin’s failures: mass extinction, slow extinction, mutational meltdown, genetic deterioration, blind cave fish, sickle cell anemia, wingless beetles. Reality is Death of the Fittest not survival of the fittest.

How can we methodically do such an accounting with such a large question? I don’t know. There are some sharp statisticians out there who might be able to propose appropriate sampling methods to help answer these questions. What’s bothersome is this work isn’t even talked about, much less pursued! If Darwinists demand we invest (wager) our time and efforts into their theory, it stands to reason they come forward with accounting that makes their claim believable. All they present is a cherry-picked picture.
cherry picked data

One can test the claims of gravitational theories, statistical mechanics, quantum mechanics, electro dynamics, classical mechanics, relativity — but Darwinism? What if I claimed you can shake a box of fair coins and you can get all of them heads? Further what if I “justified” my claim by cherry picking experimental evidence of coin flips whereby we just happen to only record heads, while all the time ignoring the coins that are tails? Would you think I had a credible theory? No. But in my opinion, Darwinism does exactly this but in not so obvious a way.

Consider that there have not been any new primary species observed. How many new species are emerging in our day, maybe zero (if we exclude secondary speciation such as polyploidy), and admit some cases of presumed speciation aren’t really speciations:

Exaggerating the evidence to prop up Darwinism is not new. In the Galápagos finches, average beak depth reverted to normal after the drought ended. There was no net evolution, much less speciation. Yet Coyne writes in Why Evolution Is True that “everything we require of evolution by natural selection was amply documented” by the finch studies. Since scientific theories stand or fall on the evidence, Coyne’s tendency to exaggerate the evidence does not speak well for the theory he is defending. When a 1999 booklet published by The U. S. National Academy of Sciences called the change in finch beaks “a particularly compelling example of speciation,” Berkeley law professor and Darwin critic Phillip E. Johnson wrote in The Wall Street Journal: “When our leading scientists have to resort to the sort of distortion that would land a stock promoter in jail, you know they are in trouble.”

So there are observed instances of secondary speciation—which is not what Darwinism needs—but no observed instances of primary speciation, not even in bacteria.

Why Darwinism Is False by Jonathan Wells

We have such inflated pronouncements such as: Peppered Moths Rest on Tree Trunks and God Doesn’t Exist or the Darwinists going on and on about new species of birds and fishes that were not really new species like the finches. All the while ignoring present day failures of Darwinian evolution where species disappear.
So for Darwin, the score sheet for speciation so far is:

Wins: 0
Losses: ???
Net: ???

But let’s try to fill in the unanswered rows. From: Endangered Species

Fifty nine insect species are known to have vanished in our modern time (IUCN 2007), however, thousands are estimated to have disappeared. In the United States, 160 insect species are presumed to be extinct or missing.

Since a very small percentage of the insect diversity has been assessed, the number of species that went extinct within the last 100 years is likely to be very high. Scientists agree that many species are going extinct, however, it is unclear how many have been lost and how many more are at risk.


There are approximately 26,800 aquatic vertebrates referred to as fish. Forty percent of all the fishes evaluated in 2007 (3,100 fishes assessed) are classified threatened (IUCN 2007).


A hundred bird species have vanished since 1600…
Approximately 1,200 bird species – 12% of all living bird species – are considered endangered, threatened, or vulnerable.


Extinctions can be highly difficult to confirm due to the need of long term intensive field surveys. Using the most conservative approach to documenting extinctions, 34 amphibians are known to have vanished for ever since the year 1500 as a result of human activities. The majority of amphibian extinctions occurred during the last 100 years. However, the real number of extinct species is very likely to be an underestimate since amphibian inventories and monitoring are lacking in most parts of the world. Most scientists believe that more than 120 species are suspected to be extinct since the 1980s.

Amphibian populations have declined dramatically around the world since the 1950s even in virgin parts (e.g., national parks). This pervasive decline is the results of local, regional, and global human induced causes. In 2006, a total of 442, 738, and 631 amphibian species were classified as critically endangered (imminent risk of extinction), endangered (very high risk of extinction in the wild), and vulnerable (facing a high risk of extinction in the wild). Overall, 1 in 3 amphibians are at risk of extinction!


The most famous members of the reptile family, the dinosaurs, became extinct as a result of the impact of a huge meteor,

Not much is known about the status of reptiles as a whole. Of more than 8,700 species, only 1,386 have been evaluated by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and 180 of those are still deemed data deficient. Of the remainder, 35% of reptile species worldwide that have been evaluated by the IUCN are threatened:

203 species are listed as Vulnerable

134 species are listed as Endangered

86 species are listed as Critically Endangered


In 2007 the World Conservation Union determined that there are 1,093 threatened mammal species out of a total of 4,863. Most threatened mammals belong to the order Rodentia (rodents) which is also the largest order of the mammals (over 40% of mammalian species fall into this order).

and this report form UK Guardian

One in five of the world’s plant species – the basis of all life on earth – are at risk of extinction, according to a landmark study published today.
“We think this is a conservative estimate,” said Eimear Nic Lughadha, one of the scientists at Kew Gardens in west London responsible for the project.

Scientists randomly selected 7,000 species from across the major plant groups as a representative sample of the estimated 380,000-400,000 so far known to science.

So a cursory glance suggests for Darwin, the score sheet for speciation in the recent past and near future should be something like:

Wins: 0
Losses: thousands
Net: -thousands

So what does a superficial evaluation of the balance of wins and losses tell you. Darwinism doesn’t look like it’s working as advertised. Problem gambler Jane looks like she did better than Darwin because she at least had some wins. 😯

One might say, “Sal, the current extinction is all due to man.”

To which I respond, “Only goes to show nature is under no obligation to behave as Darwin envisioned. Darwinian evolution always works except when it doesn’t.” And trilobite and dinosaur extinction weren’t done by man either…

Even granting we have a limited sample of the present day, Darwinist are now forced to appeal to imagination and circular reasoning rather than actual real-time data to defend their theory. Real-time data is not consistent with the blind watchmaker hypothesis. Maybe someone should write a book under an assumed name and call it:

The Blind Watch BREAKER: Why the Evidence from real Evolution contradicts fantasized Darwinian evolution
by Grim Reaper.

or how about,

Origin of Species by means of Natural Deletion, or the Non-Preservation of even favored Races in the Struggle for Existence
by Charles Sarcasm.

Evolution in the wild does not agree with Darwinian evolution.

I don’t have the answers as to how we can conduct this quest for an audit of Darwinian claims in a methodical and credible way. How do we audit the claims of complexity increase in the present day, recent past, or deep past? I do not know. But it’s a conversation that needs to happen. I’ve sketched out maybe a starting point.

Consider the stakes for society if Darwinism was indeed a false idea. How much money and resources and will have been poured into an unaudited theory? Worse, this unaudited theory has been used as an excuse to ruin careers and lives and marginalize segments of society. And if in the end Darwinism is disproven by such an audit, we’ll have to come to terms with the terrible price to pay for cherry picking data.

1. we have the simultaneous equations based on the casino edge and the actual losses by Jane:
total action = $500,000 / 0.5% = 100,000,000 = losses + wins
net = losses – wins = -$500,000

hence wins = 50,250,000,
losses = 49,750,000
net = -500,000

Notice, the balance is razor thin between winning and losing. A skilled player also has a razor thin edge of a mere 1.5%. His score sheet on average would look like:

Wins: 50,750,000
Losses: 49,250,000
Net: +1,500,000

The skilled player would also have glorious winning streaks and miserable losing streaks, but his edge will slowly chip away at the casino provided they don’t kick him out or worse (which rarely happens anymore, thankfully!).

One of my Blackjack brethren confessed 6 out of 12 months a year are losing months. He’s accumulated maybe half a million dollars enduring ordeals of losing streaks.

3. Curiously a skilled player who has a 1.5% edge over the house can still suffer gambler’s ruin if the size of his bets relative to his bankroll is tool large. To prevent this the skilled gambler must employ Fractional Kelly Risk Management. This has implications for evolutionary theory and mutational meltdown. See:
Gambler’s Ruin is Darwin’s Ruin. Even “favored races” in the wild (to use Darwin’s words) can be eliminated by chance events.

4. Btw, how is it so many species are dying now when they’d been around for hundreds of millions of years. Some of the decline was beginning long before heavy industrialization. Perhaps more evidence the geological timescales (perpetuated by Darwinists) are fallacious as Darwinism, since fossils and the Darwinian story are used to date the Phanerzoic layers. “Fossils are dated by strata. Strata are dated by fossils” Circular reasoning. One does not have to accept YEC to see accepted geological ages are suspect:
Cocktail: Falsifying the Geological Column

17 Replies to “The price of cherry picking for addicted gamblers and believers in Darwinism

  1. 1
    Ian Thompson says:

    I certainly look forward to the day when Darwinism makes actual predictions of probabilities! Only then can it become scientific (as the can be verified or refuted).

  2. 2
    Barb says:

    I can’t imagine having $500,000 in the bank, much less losing it all playing cards.

  3. 3
    JWTruthInLove says:

    Sal, what are you talking about? It’s Darwinism at its finest. Hitler and Pol Pot would have been proud of such figures.


    Darwin was a zealous advocate of the extinction of species (see Chapter Fourteen of The Darwin Papers) and of the extermination of certain races of man, and were he alive today he would be beating the drum to the clubbing of the baby harp seals in Alaska. He was no mere impartial observer of nature. And he left his stamp on the National Socialist and Marxist totalitarian dictatorships that led to the deaths of millions of people in the twentienth century in the name of evolutionary “social progress”.

    Some defenders of Darwin have noted that he followed the fashionable trend among the wealthy elite in England during the American Civil war in writing against slavery in his correspondences. This is indeed true, for Darwin did not want to make slaves of the blacks and aborigines, he preferred the much more deadly, “efficient” and brutal solution to the race problem. After all, Hitler did not want to make slaves of the Jews, he wanted to exterminate them. And it should be born in mind that Darwin’s ideas on the eventual extermination of the black races were written years after slavery had already ended, thus if there was any shift in his attitude or opinion concerning black-white relations, it was from a moderate position to an extreme position of advocacy of ethnic cleansing

  4. 4
    computerist says:

    A simple analogy; you start off with x amount of credit and hit the slot machine. As long as you keep playing you will end up losing everything including what you may have already “won” in the process.
    With Darwinian evolution you’re worse off since a slot machine is designed to payback a certain percentage incrementally/overtime while Darwinian Evolution (being blind and unguided) isn’t and doesn’t guarantee squat, and not especially not via a survival boolean fitness criteria. Indiscriminate random mutations are the achilles heal of Darwinian Evolution and GA’s. It is simply incapable of generating and sustaining FCSI.

  5. 5
    Blue_Savannah says:

    It reminds me a bit of what Lee Spetner said:

    One cannot gain information from a long sequence of steps that all lose information. As I noted in my book, that would be like the merchant who lost a little money on each sale, but thought he could make it up on volume.

  6. 6
    computerist says:

    …and the reply from the Darwinists will be that the functional information will likely be propogated to subsequent generations since it will probably attain a greater survival advantage, but the fact is that there is no such guarantee when random mutations are indiscriminate and completely blind to its current state (it would have to be designed to evolve if that were not the case). It doesn’t say, “look, I won the jackpot and therefore I’ll take my winnings and run”, no, it will say “lets keep going”.

  7. 7
    scordova says:

    It doesn’t say, “look, I won the jackpot and therefore I’ll take my winnings and run”, no, it will say “lets keep going”.

    Exactly, and in a sense its worse than that. Even the advantaged of the species get wiped out when the entire species go extinct.

    The rate of complexity loss statistically speaking exceeds complexity gain in real-time or near-real time field and lab observations. Hence evolutionary simulations to the contrary (like Weasel and Avida) cannot be used to argue for Darwinism for the simple fact they do not accord with biological reality.

    The No Free Lunch theorems appear to disfavor Darwinian evolution in the wild.

  8. 8

    As I’ve said before, if true, the rise of complex, higher life-forms didn’t happen **because** of Darwinian evolution, but rather in spite of it. The idea that “survival of the fittest” generates less hardy, less reproductive, more highly-complex (and system-fallible) entities that require ever-increasing amounts of outside assistance to even survive their birth & childhood is nonsense.

    Life on Earth began with, apparently, the fittest, hardiest organisms: bacteria. Everything else is just stuff that fell through the cracks (if Darwinism is true) and, by extreme good fortune, avoided deletion via natural extermination.

  9. 9
    scordova says:

    I thought the Darwinists would swarm this thread and say, “Sal, lots of speciation events are happening.”

    I just googled “speciation rates”. No one will hardly even volunteer an estimate of how many new species are forming today!

    I welcome hearing from the Darwinists how many new species they think have really emerged in the recent past and present.

    But, it seems the rate of species extinction is exceeding the rate of species emergence as a general trend independent of ones definition of species.

    The OP so far has gone unchallenged.

    Where are the Darwinists on this issue? They were out in force on the Nick Matzke discussions, but this is real science. Don’t they want to engage real science?

    I understand defending Matzke is an important goal for them, but don’t they want to defend Darwin from the arguments laid out here? I’d think this is more important than issues about Matzke’s dealings with Springer.

    Can’t they even make the concession, “Sal you’ve got a point I have no answer for.” Or, “This could be a good reason to reject Darwinism, it deserves more research.” Or even, “I think Darwinism is true, but this is an important unanswered question.”

    Even I gave: Good and bad reasons to reject ID. What? No reciprocity?

  10. 10
    keiths says:


    We’ve given you a lot of attention lately. It’s time to let Granville Sewell have his turn.

  11. 11
    scordova says:


    We’ve given you a lot of attention lately. It’s time to let Granville Sewell have his turn.

    I’m not the issue, complexity is. But the troubling decrease of complexity in the biosphere would be something I think you could easily contest, unless of course, the main theme of the OP is unassailable.

    You guys will quickly jump on any actual or imagined vulnerability. So why the silence? 🙂

    Thanks anyway for reading, and thanks for your generous time commenting on my other discussions. If this is the last I hear from you on this thread, thanks at least for reading.

  12. 12
    scordova says:

    From VJTorley’s thread

    quoting evolutionists:

    One may be tempted to defend the progressionist language by referring to a putative macroevolutionary trend towards increasing degrees of complexity…

    Evolution seems to follow an intrinsic trend towards increasingly complex organisms as a result of people concentrating on the small number of large, complex organisms that inhabit the right-hand tail of the complexity distribution and ignoring the simpler and much more common organisms (the ‘full-house’ fallacy, Gould, 1996)…

    …To conclude, with Werth (2012, p. 2135): “Complexity may be a trend, but it is not an inevitability. Naturalistic explanations can be offered for life’s diversity, but they need not imply a forward or upward march”…

    So increasing complexity is not an inevitability, it’s contingent on other factors, like say, ahem, existence (as in non-extinction) of the species in the first place.

    But if more species are going extinct than new species emerging….

  13. 13
    wd400 says:

    This is really all over teh place

    Consider that there have not been any new primary species observed.

    I don’t know what this means, but speciation is a population-process not an event. Speciation is happening all over the world right now, and we can study it at various stages, but we can’t (except in a very few cases) see a new species arise.

    Then you go on about extinction as if we weren’t living in the 6th mass extinction! Yes extinction rates are high today, so?

  14. 14
    scordova says:

    Then you go on about extinction as if we weren’t living in the 6th mass extinction! Yes extinction rates are high today, so?

    So that means at least as far as we can observe evolution in real-time or close to real time, average complexity looks like its going down. Hence, it casts doubt that mechanisms in operation today were the cause of complexity increase in the past.

    Doesn’t seem legitimate to argue a mechanism that’s failing today worked in the past except through pure speculation.

    If Darwinists will in the present day hail peppered moths as proof of Darwinism, IDists can also use abundant data in the present day to falsify Darwinism. Data is a double edged sword, and I’m asserting Darwinists are doing a lot of cherry picking to defend their assertions.

    This suggests Avida, Weasel and numerous other evolutionary simulations are fed garbage parameters because they fail to model what’s going on in the wild.

    Speciation is happening all over the world right now, and we can study it at various stages, but we can’t (except in a very few cases) see a new species arise.

    Which admits lack of testability. That’s not very reassuring. Hope you understand why some hold out a measure of skepticism in light of what you said.

  15. 15
    wd400 says:

    So that means at least as far as we can observe evolution in real-time or close to real time, average complexity looks like its going down.

    The number of species are going down. That’s not complexity,and I don’t think evolution predicts an average increase in complexity (or at least a tendadncy toward more complexity, a 0-bounded random walk leads to an increase on average). The rest of your sentence doesn’t appear to relate to extinction at all.

    Which admits lack of testability

    Nah. We can test out theories of speciation just fine. Geologists don’t need to see a canyon form to develop a model for how that process works. Instead we take predictions of our models, and test them in the wild and in mathmatical models.

  16. 16
    scordova says:

    The number of species are going down.

    Thank you for at least agreeing with me on that.

    That’s not complexity,

    Extinction of a species that has unique complexity is decrease in complexity in the biosphere. I posted this as a starting point for brainstorms as to how to statistically sample decrease or increase in complexity of organisms in the biosphere. The question may not be of much interest to evolutionists, but it is of high importance to IDists and creationists. I would suppose, also conservationists (especially those into herbal cures, etc.).

    and I don’t think evolution predicts an average increase in complexity (or at least a tendadncy toward more complexity, a 0-bounded random walk leads to an increase on average).

    It requires it at least some time in the history of life. It would have been a near mortal blow to ID if complexity is increasing spontaneously in the wild today. So even if the question is not of interest to evolutionary biologists, its of interest to Design theorist for sure. This was a fairly bold consequence of Dembski’s NFL claims.

    Any way, thank you very much for taking the time to read and offer your comments.


  17. 17
    wd400 says:

    and I don’t think evolution predicts an average increase in complexity (or at least a tendadncy toward more complexity, a 0-bounded random walk leads to an increase on average).

    It requires it at least some time in the history of life.

    I dont’ think so. Obiovusly complexity has increased in some lineages, but it’d not true that their needs to be a tendency toward complexity. As I say, a zero-bound random walk leads to an increasing average complexity without andy inbuilt tendancy in the process.

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