After his long article expressing his fundamental skepticism towards the cult of TENS, a number of Neo-Darwinists didn’t hesitate to try to inform Fred that his skepticism was misplaced. This was a tactical error, as Fred responded to their various attempts to correct his heretical thinking..
The Argument from Time
Even a Federal Bureaucrat Can Get A Job Done, Given Forever
A staple of evolutionary evasion is time, lots of it. This is particularly applied to the putative formation of the OC (Original Critter). One intones “billions and billions and billions of years,” the implication being that with so very, very, very much time, so many billions of gallons of sea water, surely an OC would have to form. Why, it could hardly help it.
Not necessarily. Probabilities can be more daunting than one might expect. Things that seem intuitively likely sometimes just flat are not. To illustrate the point:
We’ve all heard Sir James Jeans’ assertion that a monkey, pecking randomly on a typewriter, would eventually produce all the books in the British Museum. This may sound reasonable, even obvious, at first glance. But would the monkey in fact ever get even one book?
No. Not in any practical sense.
Consider a thickish book of, say, 200,000 words. By the newspaper estimate that there are on average five letters per word, that’s a million letters. What is the likelihood that our monkey, typing continuously (we ignore upper case and punctuation), will get the book in a given string of a million letters?
He has a 1/26 chance of getting the first letter, times a 1/26 chance of the second, and so on. The chance of getting the book in a million characters is therefore one in 26 to the millionth power. I don’t have a calculator handy, but we can get an approximation. Since 26 = 10(log 26), then 261,000,000 = 10(log 26 x 1,000,000). Since log 10 = 1 and log 100 = 2, log 26 has to be between, somewhere on the low end. Call it 1.2.
The monkey thus has one chance in 1 followed by 1,200,000 zeros. That is what mathematicians call a GBH (Gret Big Honker). For practical purposes, one divided by that rascal is zero. If you had a billion billion monkeys (more monkeys than I want) typing a billion billion letters a second, for a billion billion times the estimated age of the universe (1018 seconds is sometimes given), the chance of getting the book would still be essentially zero.
Well, you might say, that is asking a lot of our monkey. How about the chance that the monkey would get the mere title of a book—say, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, the original title of Darwin´s book. If my finger count was correct, that´s 117 letters and spaces. Then the probability is 1 in 26117, or 10(log 26 x 117), giving 10140 and change. Now, again taking the age of the universe as 1018 seconds, our monkey would have, sigh, essentially zero chance of getting even the title. Ain´t gonna happen.
Does the chance formation of an Original Critter involve such forbidding numbers? I don´t know that it does. Nor that it doesn´t. It is difficult to calculate the probability of an unknown process of unknown complexity under unknown conditions.
As we have repeatedly observed, biologists are reliably inept when it comes to math. This is why they repeatedly turn to the LOTS AND LOTS OF TIME argument, which is nothing more than an appeal to their own credulity. What they forget to account for properly is the even more extraordinary numbers that are required in order to account for the probabilities of the necessary mutations a) happening and b) proving to be of superior fitness.
It has been asked before why so many economists, whose own “science’ is entirely debatable, tend to be skeptical of evolution by natural selection. The answer is twofold. First, if you don’t get the math right in economics, the error will be immediately obvious even in theory. No economists will blithely carry on with his model if it produces 10,000 percent unemployment or an estimated 8 billion unmarried households in America. Second, every economics major has seen an awful lot of theoretical bullshit. So, we recognize it when we see it.