This is part of a series: testing evolution
I figured out how to test evolution, wrote an evolution simulator, ran it, and found that evolutionary biologists see the same results in actual living things. Now I’ll list some evidence I’ve found that, on the surface, contradicts my findings. I argue that the evidence for my simulator’s accuracy is far stronger than the evidence against. I found that in the long term, evolution isn’t the main thing that happens – devolution is, and devolution eventually leads to extinction.
The opposing evidence that I’ve found falls into 2 categories:
- Other simulations or mathematical models that predict that devolution isn’t a problem, and that evolution is the main thing that happens in the long term
- One study that put some sexually reproducing organisms through several genetic bottlenecks, and then allowed them to interbreed with a bigger population
I’ll start by pointing out that while many simulations/models do predict that devolution isn’t a problem and doesn’t cause extinction, many also predict that it is.
Note that scientific papers on Muller’s Ratchet all tend to declare that devolution doesn’t happen in creatures that both: Shuffle their genes
Either through sex or horizontal gene transfer Have big enough populations See the evidence that my simulator is accurate for a sound debunking of this.
CORRECTION: According to creation scientist John Baumgardner, one of the main characteristics of Muller’s Ratchet is that it can only be reversed by back-mutations. I had thought that it was just devolution, and evolutionary biologists were simply turning a blind eye toward it in creatures that have sex.
Here are some simulations/models that predict that devolution will eventually cause extinction:
- The relation of recombination to mutational advance
Hermann J. Muller
- Muller’s Ratchet and Mutational Meltdowns
W. Gabriel, M. Lynch and R. Burger
- Quantifying the threat of extinction from Muller’s ratchet in the diploid Amazon molly (Poecilia formosa)
Laurence Loewe and Dunja K. Lamatsch
Here are some simulations/models that predict that devolution won’t eventually cause extinction:
- Selection against harmful mutations in large sexual and asexual populations
Alexey S. Kondrashov
- Muller’s ratchet in symbiont populations
Mats E. Pettersson, Otto G. Berg
- Horizontal Gene Transfer Can Rescue Prokaryotes from Muller’s Ratchet: Benefit of DNA from Dead Cells and Population Subdivision
Nobuto Takeuchi, et al
I argue that the simulations/models that predict that devolution won’t eventually cause extinction are wrong, because as far as I know, experiments done on actual living things are very consistent – they show that devolution happens far faster than evolution, and eventually causes extinction. Here are some examples:
- Fitness of RNA virus decreased by Muller’s ratchet
- Rapid fitness losses in mammalian RNA virus clones due to Muller’s ratchet
E Duarte, et al
- Accelerated evolution and Muller’s rachet in endosymbiotic bacteria
N. A. Moran
Note that while Moran uses the word “evolution” to describe what’s happening, he also says that the effect is “deleterious” (bad). Thus, I’m pretty sure that he’s talking about devolution, and not steady improvement in fitness over time.
- Arbovirus high fidelity variant loses fitness in mosquitoes and mice
Lark L. Coffey, et al
Now that I’m looking specifically for it, I can’t find this study. I’ve read it before, and I’ve seen links to it a couple of times as I googled other things. I’ll summarize it as well as I can remember, and explain why it doesn’t show that my simulator is inaccurate. If I find it again, I’ll post a link, and rewrite this section as necessary if it turns out my memory failed me on some details.
The author(s) had 2 populations from the same species – a smaller one and a bigger one. They both reproduced sexually. He put the smaller population through several genetic bottlenecks (13-ish?) and then released them back into the bigger population. Within a few generations, the genes of the smaller population had died out, because they had devolved enough that they could no longer compete.
On the surface, this looks like it could show that devolution really isn’t a problem in some circumstances. Namely:
- The creatures have sex, or otherwise shuffle their genes, and
- They have a big enough population
But is the bigger population devolving? Try looking at his results under one of these assumptions, and then the other:
- If you have a big enough population, devolution stops completely
- All living things devolve, but small populations and genetic bottlenecks make it happen faster
Both of these fit the results of this experiment, and they fit it equally well. The second is consistent with the results of my simulator, in which devolution happens to everybody, but small populations make it happen faster. Thus, this experiment doesn’t show that my simulator is inaccurate.
I’ve listed the best evidence I know that my simulator is inaccurate, and shown that none of them invalidate my results. Furthermore, I’ve shown that, based on the available research on Muller’s Ratchet, my simulator is more accurate than many simulations and mathematical models made by evolutionary biologists. Between this and the evidence for devolution, my results still stand. Given enough time and chance, we won’t evolve into a race of supermen. We’ll instead devolve into a pile of skeletons.
The only way I see out of this mess is through genetic engineering. I very strongly oppose eugenics on moral grounds, and I don’t think it can stop devolution anyway because we’re all mutants. If, one day, someone created a disease that heals – a virus that audits our cells – this would slow, or even completely stop devolution. The database probably wouldn’t fit into a single virus, so it would be best to split the database into many shards, and put 1 shard in each virus. This would, of course, be very dangerous, and ought to be done with utmost caution. But the alternative is even worse.
- Bar of gold in the balance