Intelligent Design

Measuring the Directedness of Mutations

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So, we’ve been talking about directed mutations a bit the last few days, whether reactivating pseudogenes, or recognizing that cells can direct mutations to genes that need mutating. The point that I made to Bob was that there is a middle ground between “general mutation rate” and “mutations going to a specific base pair that needs changing”. There’s a HUGE middle ground that is decidedly non-Darwinian.

As far as I’m aware, I’m the only one who has attempted to come up with a measurement for this phenomena.

The paper, published a year and a half ago, is titled Measuring Active Information in Biological Systems. Essentially, this shows how we can use the Dembski/Marks “Active Information” metric, which Dembski/Marks/Ewert use to show (and measure) that someone has pre-encoded information in computer evolution simulations, to show (and measure) that there is pre-encoded information in *actual* evolution that directs mutations.

The nice thing about this is that it actually has a potential use in labs – if a mutation has significant active information, it means that there is probably a mechanism worth looking for. Finding mutational mechanisms is an expensive chore, so knowing *that* a mutational mechanism exists helps isolate cases where they are worth looking for.

If someone knows of another measurement of this phenomena in the literature, let me know! It’s possible mine is not the best measurement, but I wanted to at least get the conversation started on how to measure this effect, and thus the paper. Also, I think there is also design in non-selection-driven-mutations, but that is an entirely different topic for another time.

10 Replies to “Measuring the Directedness of Mutations

  1. 1
    johnnyb says:

    Also note, previous discussion of this on UD are below:

    Measuring Active Information in Biological Systems (paper announcement)
    Video on the subject

    Additionally, you might enjoy reading the following:

    Discussion of the paper at TSZ
    Discussion of the paper at PeacefulScience (there’s another, less helpful, discussion at the same site as well)

  2. 2
    Sandy says:

    What about NOT the cell controling the mutations but the Central Nervous System(CNS) via received stimuli from inside/outside body ? There is not enough information in the cell for such a complex activity(interpreting received info then make a decision based on a preseted algorithm then send the order to cell to be executed ) .

  3. 3
    johnnyb says:

    Sandy –

    No problem with the idea that the nervous system does some of this, though we don’t presently have any data for it. However, there would have to be enough information in the cell, precisely because there’s enough information in the organism, and the organism came from the cell. Additionally, most of the basis for my paper is on single-cell organisms, so there is only a cell there.

    Now, it’s possible that vitalism plays a larger role in information generation. I’m not opposed to that idea, but am basically working from the assumption that the entirety of the process is physically encoded in single-celled organisms.

  4. 4
    doubter says:

    “….the assumption that the entirety of the process is physically encoded in single-celled organisms.”

    If this encoding and process is supposed to be the initial source of the detailed complex design of various organelles and cellular molecular machines (such as the famous bacterial flagellum), I don’t see how the information could have been pre-packed in somehow. Where in the protocell? Also, this encoding would have to include the information to build the assembly system for the molecular machine.

    Also, this just pushes the problem of identifying the nature and methods of the designer back to some earlier stage of evolution. It doesn’t solve the problem.

  5. 5
    Bob O'H says:

    What about NOT the cell controling the mutations but the Central Nervous System(CNS) via received stimuli from inside/outside body ?

    How would that work in anything without a CNS, e.g. plants and fungi?

  6. 6
    Bob O'H says:

    johhnyb – it’s one thing to say you can use active information, but how would it work in practice? Choosing the statistic to measure deviations in probabilities doesn’t strike me as being the hard part of this.

  7. 7
    johnnyb says:

    Bob – good question. I cover this in the paper. It’s a little long to explain but it is in the section “a general method” and the section following, but it is only practical for single cell organisms with small genomes. Short short version is that you induce mutations yourself to find the base success rate that the organism itself diverges from.

  8. 8
    Sandy says:

    there would have to be enough information in the cell, precisely because there’s enough information in the organism, and the organism came from the cell.

    the assumption that the entirety of the process is physically encoded in single-celled organisms

    🙂 Impressive. All your assumptions are wrong.

    How would that work in anything without a CNS, e.g. plants and fungi?

    Maybe is not called CNS . Google it.

  9. 9
    Bob O'H says:

    Sandy – there isn’t an equivalent to the CNS in plants and fungi. I’d suggest you do the googling, and learn some biology before coming up with novel hypotheses.

  10. 10
    Sandy says:

    Bobby you are very “informed” or very inflated . I can’t decide which one. 🙂 Only naive people believe that milions or bilions of cells that forms an organism or plant have no command centre (that have the maps and blueprints of organisms and compare continuously the blueprint with signals from every cell and act to mantain all system close to original blueprint )
    http://www.sciencemag.org/news.....ous-system
    https://mindmatters.ai/2019/04/researchers-yes-plants-have-nervous-systems-too/

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