Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Researchers: Evolution is random, just like the stock market…


Are these people allowed to say this? From ScienceDaily:

Remarkably, extreme events of diversification and extinction happen more frequently than a typical, Gaussian, distribution would predict. Instead of the typical bell-shaped curve, the fossil record shows a fat-tailed distribution, with extreme, outlier, events occurring with higher-than-expected probability.

While scientists have long known about this unusual pattern in the fossil record, they have struggled to explain it. Many random processes that occur over a long time with large sample sizes, from processes that produce school grades to height among a population, converge on the common Gaussian distribution. “It’s a very reasonable default expectation,” says Santa Fe Institute Omidyar Fellow Andy Rominger. So why doesn’t the fossil record display this common pattern?

In a new paper published in Science Advances, Rominger and colleagues Miguel Fuentes (San Sebastián University, Chile) and Pablo Marquet (Pontifical Catholic University of Chile) have taken a new approach to tackling this question. Instead of trying to only describe fluctuations in biodiversity across all types of organisms, they also look at fluctuations within clades, or groups of organisms that share a common ancestral lineage.

“Within a lineage of closely related organisms, there should be a conserved evolutionary dynamic. Between different lineages, that dynamic can change,” says Rominger. That is, within clades, related organisms tend to find an effective adaptive strategy and never stray too far. But between these clade-specific fitness peaks are valleys of metaphorically uninhabited space. “It turns out, just invoking that simple idea, with some very simple mathematics, described the patterns in the fossil record very well.”

These simple mathematics are tools that Fuentes, in 2009, used to describe another system with an unusual fat-tailed distribution: the stock market. By using superstatistics — an approach from thermodynamics to describe turbulent flow — Fuentes could accurately describe the hard-to-predict dramatic crashes and explosions in value.

“In biology, we see these crashes and explosions too, in terms of biodiversity,” says Rominger. “We wondered if Fuentes’ elegant approach could also describe the evolutionary dynamics we see in the fossil record.” Paper. (open access) – Andrew J. Rominger, Miguel A. Fuentes and Pablo A. Marquet. Nonequilibrium evolution of volatility in origination and extinction explains fat-tailed fluctuations in Phanerozoic biodiversity. Science Advances, 2019 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aat0122 More.

Maybe these people sort of know they are offering an intelligence-based explanation if they invoke the stock market. Maybe they don’t.

Are they trying to surrender quietly?

See also: What the fossils told us in their own words

Follow UD News at Twitter!

Evolution Like The Stock Market? Let's review the opinions of some highly educated folks who do not support ID: Dance to the tune of life: biological relativity 2017 Book by professor Denis Noble
living organisms operate at multiple levels of complexity and must therefore be analysed from a multi-scale, relativistic perspective. all biological processes operate by means of molecular, cellular and organismal networks. the interactive nature of these fundamental processes is at the core of biological relativity and, as such, challenges simplified molecular reductionism. such an integrative view emerges as the necessary consequence of the rigorous application of mathematics to biology. what emerges is a deeply humane picture of the role of the organism in constraining its chemistry, including its genes, to serve the organism as a whole, especially in the interaction with its social environment. this humanistic, holistic approach challenges the common gene-centered view held by many in modern biology and culture.
  Endorsement: Jos de Mul, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands
"world-renowned physiologist and systems biologist Denis Noble effectively argues for a fundamental revision of the theory of evolution.  Against the reductionist, gene-centered approach of Neo-Darwinism, which has dominated biology for more than a century, Noble passionately pleas for a more integrated approach."
Chapter 9, page 248:
I suspect that for many scientists, defending reductionism, including particularly Neo-Darwinism, was a necessity in order to counter the claims of creationist religions or supernatural intelligent design.
Chapter 9, page 254:
In common with many other scientists, I feel embarrassed by the lack of basic philosophical awareness in much of what is written on this matter on behalf of 'science'.  Whether the authors know it or not, they are in fact speaking not on behalf of science but rather on behalf of an alternative metaphysical viewpoint, and often enough they do not appreciate the need for humility in the face of the deep uncertainties.  To claim to speak to the general public with 'scientific' authority about the deepest 'why' questions with a false certainty that cannot be justified simply creates problems, it does not solve them.
Chapter 9, page 262:
We have no idea what, if anything, could lie beyond what we see and observe.  That should inspire humility. Necessarily, science is concerned with what we can know.
Chapter 9, page 264:
if the history of science tells us anything about the big why questions, there can't be much doubt that future centuries will see discoveries beyond what we can imagine today.  I suggest that there will always be a relativistic 'beyond' - beyond what we can know.
Totally off topic. But I cannot find anywhere how life stumbled upon the fact that it could harvest a proton to drive machinery in the earliest cell.A cell needed energy, not just for accelerating chemical reactions, it needed it, for example only, to provide the juice for a voltage gated pore I am not really concerned about the chicken and egg problem. I just want to know if there are any hypotheses out there. Sorry to hijack, couldn’t think of anywhere else to go. Belfast

Leave a Reply