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Response to talk.origins article CB121

by Walter ReMine (November, 2006)1

Topics:

Misrepresentation by commission

Misrepresentation by omission

The talk.origins website thoroughly misrepresents my material, and wastes your time. It demonstrates trash scholarship from activist-evolutionists. 

When their misrepresentations are removed, there is little left to respond to.  I am sorry to post such a tedious document, but the talk.origins misrepresentations are the 'best' (or least worst) evolutionary response to my material so far.  If you know a better one, let me know. 

My book's argument concerning Haldane's Dilemma is given in three chapters and two appendices (hereafter called "my argument"). Claiming to refute my argument is article "CB121 on the talk.origins website" (hereafter called talk.origins).2 The talk.origins article has been widely promoted around the Internet, such as EvoWiki.org and many newsgroups. Here is my response. 


Misrepresentation by commission: 

This section documents items where talk.origins explicitly misrepresents my argument.


Claim CB121:

J. B. S. Haldane calculated that new genes become fixed only after 300 generations due to the cost of natural selection (Haldane 1957). Since humans and apes differ in 4.8 107 genes, there has not been enough time for difference to accumulate. Only 1,667 nucleotide substitutions in genes could have occurred if their divergence was ten million years ago.

Source:

ReMine, Walter J., 1993. The Biotic Message, St. Paul Science, Inc.

Talk.origins cites my book as the source, but my book said no such thing. They misrepresented my argument, which is not about the "difference" or "divergence" between living organisms (such as living apes and living humans).  See here


  1. ReMine (1993) ... makes several invalid assumptions. His model is contradicted by the following:
  • Human and ape genes both would be diverging from the common ancestor, doubling the difference.

My argument never focuses on the "difference" between living organisms. Rather, my argument focuses on the limited number of beneficial substitutions for explaining all the uniquely human adaptations (starting, say, ten million years ago), which is a perfectly legitimate way to cast Haldane's Dilemma. I take that approach because it gives evolutionists the least amount of wiggle-room and fudge factors. Talk.origins did not identify a "contradiction". Rather, Talk.origins wants more wiggle-room and fudge factors, (plus "doubling the difference"), so they misrepresented my argument. See here.


  1. ReMine (1993) ... makes several invalid assumptions. His model is contradicted by the following:
  • The vast majority of differences would probably be due to genetic drift, not selection.

My argument states that Haldane's Dilemma only limits the beneficial substitution rate. In addition, my book has an entire chapter on neutral evolution, and argues that the vast majority of substitutions would be neutral, due to genetic drift, not selection.3 Talk.origins misrepresented my argument. 


Haldane's paper was published in 1957, and Haldane himself said, "I am quite aware that my conclusions will probably need drastic revision" (Haldane 1957, 523). It is irresponsible not to consider the revision that has occurred in the forty years since his paper was published.

By that definition, evolutionists are "irresponsible."  Talk.origins misrepresents the situation exactly backwards from reality. My book made clarifying revisions to Haldane's cost concept, and my 2005 paper did likewise and was peer-reviewed as correct, therefore talk.origins is "irresponsible not to consider" it. Talk.origins doesn't even mention my clarifications.4


  1. ReMine (1993) ... makes several invalid assumptions. His model is contradicted by the following:
  • ReMine's computer simulation supposedly showing the negative influence of Haldane's dilemma assumed a population size of only six (Musgrave 1999).

The computer simulation is not mine.  It is the famous simulation "METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL", from Richard Dawkins's book, The Blind Watchmaker.  My book identifies nearly two dozen ways that Dawkins's simulation is wildly unrealistic in favor of evolution.  Even with a small population size of six, it operates in favor of evolution, by providing an unrealistically small total cost of substitution. (A value of 5 versus Haldane's value of 30, and this low value operates in favor of evolution.) 

Population size determines the rate at which a population receives beneficial mutations. For example, a population of 6 individuals receives beneficial mutations fifty thousand times less frequently than a population of 300,000 individuals. This naturally makes beneficial evolution very slow in small populations. However, Dawkins's computer simulation compensates by granting an extremely high beneficial mutation rate (where one out of 26 mutations is beneficial with a perfect selection coefficient of 1), which operates in favor of evolution. 

In short, Dawkins's simulation is specially constructed to give evolution the advantage of small population size (i.e., low cost of substitution); plus the advantage of large population size (i.e., a high receipt of beneficial mutations per unit time). It has the advantages of small and large populations at the same time. No natural population can do that. It is wildly unrealistic, and it all operates in favor of evolution. 

No one has identified anything about the simulation that disfavors evolution.  Yet it demonstrates a speed of evolution not far from Haldane's Dilemma. 

Talk.origins scurrilously misrepresents this matter, though I notified them of it years ago.  For example, here.


  1. ReMine [1993] ... makes several invalid assumptions.
  • Many mutations, such as those due to unequal crossing-over, affect more than one codon.

Talk.origins misrepresents where the assumption came from it came from evolutionary geneticists, not me. My book makes that clear. Evolutionary geneticists studied (first) protein sequences and (later) gene sequences, in the 1970s through 1990s, and thereby claimed most beneficial substitutions are point mutations. My argument merely assumed the current evolutionary model, as it is and was, and shows it leads to a serious problem.5  I did not make an "invalid assumption", unless evolutionists want to acknowledge their evolutionary model was an "invalid assumption." [Of course, evolutionary geneticists are free to change their model, and may likely do so as the result of the large number of "chromosomal rearrangements" discovered in the recent genome projects. The world awaits their discussion, and consensus on this new data.]

Talk.origins also misunderstands the issue. Indeed "many mutations affect more than one codon" but a high percentage of mutations are harmful or neutral, and only a tiny percentage are beneficial.  From there, a high percentage of the beneficial mutations are eliminated in the first ten generations, by genetic drift.  That all operates like a very severe filter, so only an extremely tiny fraction of the original mutations become beneficial substitutions. Haldane's Dilemma puts a limit on the rate of successfully substituted beneficial mutations.  So the fact that "many mutations affect more than one codon", is irrelevant or insufficient to affect our calculations. Evolutionists do not get to choose what the beneficial substitutions are, they must accept what nature doles out.  See here.

Lastly, the point does not alter the Haldane limit one iota a limit of 1,667 beneficial mutations to explain all the uniquely human adaptations in the last ten million years. Talk.origins is not solving Haldane's Dilemma. 


Misrepresentation by omission: 

Talk.origins sometimes misrepresents by posturing like it refuted to my argument, when talk.origins merely omitted my argument completely. This form of misrepresentation is implicit, and this section documents such cases. 


  1. Haldane's "cost of natural selection" stemmed from an invalid simplifying assumption in his calculations. He divided by a fitness constant in a way that invalidated his assumption of constant population size, and his cost of selection is an artifact of the changed population size. With corrected calculations, the cost disappears (Wallace 1991; Williams n.d.).

Talk.origins claims the cost of substitution "disappears" or is zero. That claim is shown false in my book, and in my technical paper. Leading evolutionary geneticists, James Crow and Warren Ewens, peer-reviewed my paper and acknowledge it is correct.6 Quite simply, if a new mutation is to go from one copy to, say, a million copies (through reproductive means), then reproductive excess is required absolutely, positively, no exceptions.  That is what the cost of substitution is.  When evolutionists claim the cost disappears or is zero, they have deeply misunderstood the cost of substitution (a feat that is not uncommon in the evolutionary literature). 

Talk.origins cites the Wallace 1991 book, Fifty years of Genetic Load, which is about genetic load, not the cost of substitution. In this sense, it could be argued that talk.origins misrepresented Wallace, or at least misunderstood what was at issue. Genetic load is a major confusion factor discussed and eliminated in my peer-reviewed paper

Talk.origins cites as an authority "Williams n.d.", which is Robert Williams, whose sole contribution to population genetics is his scurrilous website, which thoroughly misrepresents my material. See here. Given all the legitimate evolutionary geneticists, journals, and books to choose from, talk.origins chose to cite Robert Williams website. That speaks volumes about the evolutionists' handling of Haldane's Dilemma. They simply have nothing better. 


  1. ....[Haldane] assumed that two mutations would take twice as long to reach fixation as one, but because of sexual recombination, the two can be selected simultaneously and both reach fixation sooner. ....

Haldane's argument, and my argument, already took sexual reproduction and recombination into account. 

Haldane did not "assume that two mutations would take twice as long to reach fixation". 

Instead, the cost of concurrent substitutions add together each generation, therefore many substitutions incur the same total cost of substitution regardless of whether they substitute concurrently (overlapping in time in arbitrary ways), or end-to-end (non-overlapping in time).  Either way, the total cost is the same, and so is the limitation on the substitution rate. This 'cost addition' phenomenon was not an "assumption" by anyone, instead it was an unassailable fact of the model Haldane used which was a simple multiplicative fitness model (as commonly used today), with an average payment (or reproductive excess) of 0.1. 

Though explained poorly in the evolutionary literature, those points were (at least implicitly) understood long ago by leading evolutionary geneticists, including Kimura, Maynard-Smith, Crow, and Ewens. They did not regard those points as solutions to Haldane's Dilemma, contrary to talk.origins. 


  • Many genes would have been linked with genes that are selected and thus would have hitchhiked with them to fixation.

That argument was refuted by Haldane himself, (and my appendix recounts his argument).

Also, my book discusses how the gene hitchhiking idea tries to get a 'free lunch'.  If you account all the effects of mutations that are "linked together" (including harmful mutations), then the overall effect is harmful, and worsens Haldane's Dilemma.  Evolutionists have not accounted the many harmful effects of their own "gene hitchhiking" scenario. 

Talk.origins claimed I made an "invalid assumption", when in fact I made explicit arguments (from Haldane and myself), which talk.origins did not acknowledge or address, much less refute. Talk.origins misrepresented my book.  


FOOTNOTES:

  1. The webpage you are reading was created January 2005, and updated: November 2006.
  2. The talk.origins article is located at: www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB121.html   Their web-material quoted here is accurate as of November 12, 2006.
  3. My book provides a new type of argument about the neutral substitution rate.  The argument operates like this.  Error catastrophe places a limit on the maximum rate of harmful mutation that a population can sustain.  That limit, combined with a plausible ratio of expressed-neutral mutation to harmful mutation, provides a limit on the maximum rate of expressed neutral mutation.  Then that rate gives the maximum number of expressed neutral mutations that can occur in the available time.  That number is far smaller than traditionally thought (since traditional calculations included all the neutral substitutions, including a large number of inert neutral substitutions.)  By seeing the limiting importance of error catastrophe, and by separating expressed neutral mutations from inert neutral mutations, I was able to create a new style of argument. The figure given in my book for the number of expressed neutral substitutions over ten million years of human evolution is not large by traditional standards. But it does show that (if we focus on expressed substitutions, which are the only ones that can change the phenotype), the vast majority would be neutral, due to genetic drift, not selection. 
  4. See also the wikipedia article on Haldane's Dilemma, where evolutionists fight hard to present only Haldane's 1957 paper (in lengthy detail, including its many obtuse derivations and confused wording) to the exclusion of clarifications that came afterward. This has the effect of obscuring Haldane's Dilemma from public view, which is apparently their goal. 
  5. Moreover, I explained Haldane's Dilemma in a manner the public can grasp, which is something evolutionists never did. 
  6. The many confusions and errors displayed on the talk.origins webpage demonstrate that James Crow and Warren Ewens were wrong to suppress clarifications from the evolutionary literature.