Intelligent Design Exposed

May 5, 2008

Gambler’s Ruin is Darwin’s Gain

Joe Felsenstein, Professor of Genome Sciences and of Biology and Adjunct Professor of Computer Science and of Statistics has a guest posting on Panda’s Thumb titled Gambler’s Ruin is Darwin’s Gain in which he exposes the vacuity of the Intelligent Design comments by Young Earth Creationist Salvador Cordova.

So yes, the mathematics of Gambler’s Ruin speaks to the issue of natural selection—but it confirms its effectiveness.

(The other issue raised by Cordova, that of interference between mutations at different loci, is the well-known Hill-Robertson effect. If the loci have more than a tiny amount of genetic recombination between them, the interference largely vanishes. Cordova and the other commenters there have forgotten this.)

PZ Myers at Pharyngula observes similarly in a posting titled ‘squish’

That’s the sound you should hear when Joe Felsenstein takes on an idiotic claim by Sal Cordova. Would you believe that Cordova claims that Kimura and Ohta’s classic 1971 paper “shatters the modern synthesis”? That’s what he claims, on the basis of his poor understanding of the mathematics of population genetics, which is ridiculous on the face of it. So it’s very satisfying to see one of the big guns of population genetics take him down with one brief explanation: contrary to Cordova, the principle he’s describing confirms the effectiveness of natural selection.

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