Member # 262
posted 10. August 2002 14:49
[One of the common complaints against Design Science is that it does not produce explicit, testable, predictions. Yesterday I proposed a model (of one feature) of the design/redesign process associated with the wings of eagles. Based on that model I will formulate below, three explicit, testable, predictions. I believe that 1)the predictions produced directly contradict predictions generated by neo-Darwinian genetic theories and 2)the predictions produced are examples of an explicit, testable, prediction produced by a design theory. I am posting these three predictions as a separate thread because I would appreciate comments/feedback on the following questions.
1. Are the predictions provided testable?
2. Can the predictions be viewed or classified as predictions generated by design theory/design models?
3. Do the predictions contradict predictions generated by neo-Darwinian theory?
4. Can and will the scientific community evaluate the predictions?
5. Can and will the scientific community evaluate the impact of these predictions on Darwinian theories versus design theories?]
As a starting point, it should be recognized that there are different types or forms of design and thus different types of design theories. In the terminology used here, the term design refers to state or property of a system at a point in time, (design at time n can be denoted by Dtn) and a design process (denoted by DP) is a process responsible for changing design. In this terminology, a design theory or model is an algorithm describing changes in design over time and would be expressed in the general form DP(Dt0)= Dt1.
In the terminology used here, Darwinian and neo-Darwinian theories are types of design theory. In terms of the above notation, the issue being addressed here is Darwinian design versus non-Darwinian design. The specific issue being addressed in the discussion here, is ‘purposeful, teleological, or directed design/redesign’ versus ‘random, non-directed design’.
Most forms of neo-Darwinian theory rather specifically argue that evolution and the design of biological systems is random or non-directed. Neo-Darwin theory, at least in its basic form, details fairly specific mechanisms consistent with the random non-directed concept(the mutate-select process). The ‘design hypothesis’ or ‘teleological design hypothesis’ or ‘adaptive design model’, offered here as an alternative to the neo-Darwinian theory, asserts that the redesign or adaptive design process associated with eagles wings is non-random, teleological, or directed.
To provide a bit of background, the assertion here is that eagles wings are an example of a system exhibiting adaptive design. The adaptive design property is formally defined here as follows:
DEFINTIION OF ADAPTIVE DESIGN(also called simple, elementary, purposeful, or teleological design): - A system, process, or mechanisms is defined as having adaptive design, if 1)the system can take an identifiable number of different forms, 2)some subset of the set possible forms is adaptive or purposeful (increases the likelihood that some goal or function will be achieved), 3)processes or mechanisms exist which are capable of changing the form of the system, and 4) there is over time a greater likelihood the system will be in an adaptive state rather than an non-adaptive or mal-adaptive state.
We know from observation that eagles wings can take many different forms. We also know from observation that for an eagle living in a particular environment there are only a limited portion of the possible designs or forms that are adaptive. We know that eagles that survive are far more likely to have wings in an adaptive rather than a non-adaptive or mal-adaptive state. Finally, we know or recognize the existence of process or mechanisms capable of changing the form or design of wings. Eagles wings therefore meet the requirement of a system with the adaptive design property. The issue here is therefore not the existence of design or design processes but rather the specific nature of the design processes which exist.
It is easily demonstrated that there a number of different logical processes or operations which could potentially produce observed changes in wing design. It has been clearly demonstrated that GA algorithms or the ‘mutate-select’ logic can produce redesign, and ‘could possibly’ produce the redesign associated with eagles wings. It is also easily demonstrated that the ‘directed redesign model’ introduced yesterday could possibly explain/simulate redesign.
The two major, quantifiable, observable, testable differences between ‘directed redesign processes’ and a ‘random, non-directed design processes’ are speed and mechanics. First, a directed redesign process will be significantly faster than a random, non-directed design process. Second, there must exist some processes or mechanisms to account for this greater redesign speed. The first two testable design predictions are based on these differences as follows:
PREDICTION 1-SPEED: Recognizing realistic, verifiable mutation rates, selection rates, and the step by step change process associated with most near continuous, the maximum, repeatable, observable rate or speed of redesign is much faster than can be produced by non-directed ‘mutate-select’ processes. These maximum speeds are consistent with those produced by the proposed directed redesign process.
It is believed that the data needed to test the above prediction is readily available. Note that the differences in rate of redesign are huge. A 10 variable, 10 step redesign process involving mutate-select processes might require large populations and millions of years. The same redesign event using a directed design process of the type being proposed might be achieve in less than 100 generations and with relatively small populations.
PREDICTION 2-MECHANISM: Recognizing the existence in developmental processes of mechanism which are label ‘developmental clocks’ to precisely control near continuous design variables, it is predicted there exist processes or mechanisms associated with these developmental process which ‘add/delete heritable units of time’ to these clocks.
It is easily demonstrated that the hypothesized add/delete mechanisms would explain the maximum redesign speeds suggested by selective breeding. Since the mechanisms controlling growth processes are known and observable, it should be possible to observe between generation differences in these processes. [As an interest aside, the relatively rapid and ongoing increase in the average height humans in some populations might be an example of the operation of such a mechanisms.]
The maximum speed of adaptive redesign can play an important role in the ability of a species to survive environmental changes and in the ability of a species to expand into new environments and new niches. The third prediction relates to the impact of fast/slow redesign speeds.
PREDICTION 3-SURVIVABILITY: Recognizing the importance of maximum redesign speed on the ability of a species to survive changing conditions and to expand into new environments, and recognizing the significant differences in maximum speeds between directed and non-directed processes, it is predicted that species such as eagles would not survive, or would not have survived, over an extended period with non-directed redesign processes.
This is obviously a much more complex prediction to evaluate. It does, however, appear to be the type of complex problem certain groups of mathematicians enjoy tackling. The significance of the prediction is obvious. If the prediction can be demonstrated, then it will have been shown that not only is the non-directed ‘mutate-select’ process not the major evolutionary/design process associated with life forms, but life forms and life would not survive if such an evolutionary process was in place.