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*To*: Dinosaur@usc.edu*Subject*: Re. Progress*From*: chris lavers <chris.lavers@nottingham.ac.uk>*Date*: Thu, 04 May 2000 14:13:32 +0100*In-reply-to*: <002001bfb5c3$eefd6fa0$9d2f3ccc@john>*References*: <3.0.5.32.20000504091144.008271a0@128.243.145.4>*Reply-to*: chris.lavers@nottingham.ac.uk*Sender*: owner-dinosaur@usc.edu

>Philidor 11 wrote: > >Randomness refers to the generation of new capabilities through >mutation. You're using it as equivalent to the process of natural >selection itself. Descent with modification: Sheesh, Chris. No, no. I'm certainly not equating natural selection with randomness. I'm refering to the old example (who came up with it now? Gould?) to explain how average complexity (difficult concept that) can increase over time even if the same number of lineages are becoming more and less complex.... Take a drunk and stand him next to a wall (on his right hand side). Let him stagger along until he falls over (the idea is that he should stagger randomly). Mark the position. Pick him up and let him do it again. Mark the position again. Do it several thousand times. Because the wall is to the drunk's right, all final resting places will be either against the wall or to the left of it. Some will be a long way to the left. Increase the number of attempts and the chances are that the distance of the furthest left fall-over point will also increase. In the case of evolution, the wall represents the fact that there is a minimum complexity for life. Start here, as life must, then some lineages will remain at minimum complexity, some will increase in complexity, but none can decrease. Increase the length of time over which lineages have the chance to stagger around and the complexity of the 'leftmost' product of natural selection will increase by the law of averages. This has to be the null hypothesis to explain the observed increase in the complexity of life over time. Whether it's right or not, I do not know. There was an article written recently in which someone claimed to have tested the theory by determining the number of lineages that decreased and increased in 'complexity' over time (complexity is fiendishly tricky to define and I can't remember how it was done in this instance). I seem to remember that the results gave tentative support for the random walk scenario. Anyone got the reference? Chris

**Follow-Ups**:**Re: Re. Progress***From:*"philidor11" <philidor11@snet.net>

**References**:**Re. Progress***From:*chris lavers <chris.lavers@nottingham.ac.uk>

**Re: Re. Progress***From:*"philidor11" <philidor11@snet.net>

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