On Thu, Apr 18, 2013 at 02:09:28PM -0400, John Clark wrote:
> No because in a sexually reproducing animal the genes that make the error
> correcting machinery are inherited independently of the very genes that
> they have corrected, and the vast majority of mutations are detrimental not
> helpful. So in any generation the offspring of a animal with good error
> correcting machinery will almost always do better than offspring from a
> animal with poor correcting machinery. And even in the very rare cases
> where the mutation caused a improvement in a gene the animal will do better
> if it has the gene for the better error correcting machinery, because
> otherwise that good gene is likely to mutate again and this time the
> mutation will almost certainly be bad.  As Richard Dawkins said in his
> wonderful book "Climbing Mount Improbable":
> 
> "The predaliction to mutate is always bad, even though individual mutations
> occasionally turn out to be good. It is best, if more than a little
> paradoxical, to think of natural selection as favoring a mutation rate of
> zero. Fortunately for us, and for the continuance of evolution, this
> genetic nirvana is never quite attained."
> 
>   John K Clark

The evolving evolvability argument is that there may well be scenarios
where a higher mutation rate is selected for. The most extreme case is
the immune system, where the immune system needs to keep ahead of
evolving pathogens.

I think the reason Dawkins was so negative about the evolving
evolvability idea is that it necessarily is a form of group selection,
which has been consigned to scientific Siberia throughout the
seventies and eighties. An individual replicator never obtains an
advantage from high mutation rates.

However, with group selection having been rehabilited recently, I
wonder if Dawkins would be quite so hardline on this matter.


-- 

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Prof Russell Standish                  Phone 0425 253119 (mobile)
Principal, High Performance Coders
Visiting Professor of Mathematics      hpco...@hpcoders.com.au
University of New South Wales          http://www.hpcoders.com.au
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