Feb

11

 Evolution is a random function, such that as conditions change, the random mutations of a species makes one particular mutation more successful in the particular niche or in response to the environmental change, thus allowing it to flourish. The other manifestations do not survive. As much as we might want to delude ourselves into some control, it's not probably very true. The trait may not be better or superior, but it just happens to work.

Kind of like many patterns in the market. Some random pattern will start working in a regime for a while. Then it won't. It's important not to get too locked into any one style, pattern, regime to avoid the extinction issue. This is adaptability and is more important than almost any other issue. That's the problem with the "xyz" trade or what ever. Even the one that work, won't work a third of the time. Is it worth dying over, or worse?

Marlowe Cassetti writes:

I agree that the Darwinian model is probably the better model of the dynamics of the market and an explanation for "everchanging cycles." In my view, it trumps the Efficient Market Hypothesis, Fib Ratios, reversion to the mean, MACD histograms, or Uri Geller's psychic visions. From what I surmise the Darwinian model is encompassed in the rubric of behavioral finance and evolutionary economics.

So let's raise a glass of wine this Thursday for the 200th birthday celebration of Charles Darwin, considered by science historians one of the greatest scientists of all time. Also, Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin share the same 200th birthday.

Riz Din reports:

I'm off to see the Darwin exhibition at the British Library, so no time to refer to the specific papers, but I recently looked at some research that investigated how the rate of random mutation of a type of baceria changes when environmental conditions become stressed. I find this fascinating as it points to a direct link between random changes in the environment and random mutations. It may be interesting to see by how much mutation rates change for a given change in external conditions, as mutation carries costs as well as benefits.

Also, what do you think–The Origin was the first truly convincing contradiction of the literal biblical view of creation and it caused a storm.

Stefan Jovanovich responds:

 I disagree. The literal Biblical view of creation had been openly challenged in Britain since the first Civil War. Belief in Christianity itself had been optional since the Lord Protector welcomed the Jews back to the United Kingdom (being a Catholic, on the other hand, was still a civil disability when the Origin of the Species was published). The notion that Darwin faced opposition is simply not true; he had no trouble with publications, and people were as mad for the theory of evolution as they were 60 years later for Einstein's theory of relativity. It made Darwin a star. Darwin did face considerable skepticism from Lyell and other Lamarckians (Lyell never fully accepted natural selection), but no one seriously accepted poor Bishop Ussher's chronology by 1860. (It is fascinating to note that both Newton and Kepler had agreed with Ussher's calculations - so much for scientific stare decisis). The Huxley-Wilberforce debate was a great show - like the Snopes trial - but it was hardly a "storm". This is yet another of those factoids of history that present scientists as having to bravely challenge the forces of Christian ignorance; and like so many of them (Galileo et. al.), it is a complete canard. Darwin did lose his own belief in the Resurrection, but that loss came not from his evolutionary theories but from the questions raised in his mind by the death of his young daughter.

Riz Din adds:

Here are some notes taken from my visit to the small but enlightening Darwin Exhibition at the British Library:

- When Darwin was living at his home in Kent he would walk down his 'thinking path' every day, come rain or shine. His daily routine was as follows:

Go for a short walk before sunrise

7:45 - 8:00 Light breakfast
8:00 - 9:30 Best time for research
9:30 - 10:30 Relax on sofa and read letters
10:30 - 12:00 Research
12:00 - 1:00 Visit greenhouse and walk along Sand Walk and think
1:00 - 2:00 Lunch and read newspaper
2:00 - 3:00 Write letters
3:00 - 4:00 Rest while Emma reads aloud
4:00 - 4:30 Afternoon stroll
4:30 - 5:30 Research
5:30 - Evening begins
10:30 To bed

- Darwin graduated in theology and was thinking of life as a clergyman when he was offered the invitation to be a naturalist on the HMS Beagle.Darwin writes that the Beagle voyage was the single most important event in his life.

- The naturalist suffered much ill health through his life, yet his output was prolific. Darwin had a strong desire to understand everything he observed. His eight year study on barnacles won him a gold medal award by the Royal Society, and after Origins of the Species was published Darwin went on to study orchids in great depth.

- Evolution was not a new idea at all and the works of others paved the way for Darwin. Erasmus Darwin, his grandfather, alluded to the idea in his poem 'The Temple of Nature', writing 'mankind arose from one family of monkeys on the banks of the Mediterranean.' Other key figures in the story of evolution include Malthus, Lamarck and Lyell.

- At the same time as Darwin, fellow naturalist Alfred Wallace had the similar ideas about evolution and survival of the fittest. Darwin's and Wallace's ideas were jointly presented to the Linnean Society in 1858, but Darwin's thesis had been twenty years in the making, and extensively researched, and he published The Origin of the Species shortly after. The Origin was written for popular consumption, in a conversational style, and quickly sold out. However, Darwin was careful not to include explicit discussion of man's place in evolution, even if it was obvious for all to see. The Origin was the first truly convincing contradiction of the literal biblical view of creation and it caused a storm.

- The exhibition has a couple of amusing notes on marriage. Writing to congratulate his friend on his recent marriage, Darwin says 'Long may you live in your now perfect state. We poor bachelors are only half men,—creeping like caterpillars through the world, without fulfilling our destination.' In 1838, Darwin produced an highly entertaining list of the pros and cons of marriage
 


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