Yes, a "mutation" to the genome is a change in one or more letters of
the code. A "mutation" in the metabolic processes implied by said
genetic sequence (a changed protein, a modified level of production of
an unmodified protein or set of same, etc.) and ultimately in the mature
phenotype (if the precursors to this are viable enough for a mature
specimen to arrive?) and beyond that the larger social unit
(herd/pack/tribe) that might benefit or suffer from the behaviour of the
individual experiencing the mutation. Add individuals with a mutation in
their bone-production that causes extremely large cross-section bones
and thick crania into the Vikings and you get (what has been
hypothesized to be) Berserker warriors who drop into a blind rage when
their blood pressure rises in response to threat. As long as they are
pointing *toward* the enemy when that happens, it is (maybe) highly
functional for the group to have you around?
What is presented to the world by the epigenetic system is not
mutations but “hypotheses” about ways to live. And presumably
epigenetic systems are shaped by natural selection to produce
more or less plausible hypotheses.
And what is the "hypothesis generator" in epigenetics? Is it
stochastic or deterministic? (and what examples of epigenetics are you
thinking of?) Is "plausable" the term you want, or is it more
*/[NST==>What exactly do we imagine a “mutation” to be …nothing more
or less than a change in one or more letters of the code, or the
surprising change in the morphology or behavior of the creature that
results? The epigenetic system has to “make” something of the code
change. There are gene editing mechanisms and error correction
mechanisms, and switches, on and off. Drop one letter of the code and
the organism cannot make melanin; but a lot of work has to be done to
turn that mishap into a “white bear.” <==nst] /*
the point is that the variation is not correlated with the selection
process in any significant way. I think THAT is what *I* mean by random.
The randomness is largely notional.
I do think that "random" is a very loosey-goosey concept (like so many
we call out on this list), but whether the variation is produced by
random processes, pseudo-random processes, or merely processes with
appropriately broad distribution functions,
I'm acknowledging that "random" is at least relative in most cases.
If we go down to the quantum level, it takes on a more meaningful
meaning but I would claim one that requires much more sophisticated
discussion to penetrate. I would claim that this is the kind of
"random" that Penrose postulates is necessary for (and explains)
*/[NST==>did you complete that thought? I am eager to know where you
were going with that sentence.<==nst] /*
BTW, I think you are conflating my words with those of the larger
group. I don't think I've ever tried to even suggest "how evolution
came about", because that description doesn't even make sense to me...
evolution "just is" .
I still think you guys are more captured by your model of
evolution than by the actual facts of it.
I think we (collectively) are guilty of this all of the time, though
in the spirit of "all models are wrong, some are useful" I'm not even
sure I know what a "model-free" fact might be?
*/[NST==>Oh, no, Steve. WAY too broad a brush. The problem is that
you in danger of using the same model to explicate your understanding
of the phenomenon of evolution as you later use to explain how
evolution came about. <==nst] /*
I'm looking forward to Dave West's condensed summary of "Arrival of the
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