Definition of evolution

Frank Frank
Fri Nov 1 16:30:11 EST 1991


In article <1991Nov1.204320.15138 at gpu.utcs.utoronto.ca>
lamoran at gpu.utcs.utoronto.ca (L.A. Moran) writes:
>
>     I am looking for a working definition of evolution that will guide us in
>discussions and debates. The standard textbook definition is often given as
>"change in the frequencies of alleles in a population" but this turns out to
>be somewhat misleading because it can easily be misinterpreted to mean that
>evolution is the same as allele replacements. I suggest the following;
>
>      Biological evolution is the process of change in the genetic
>      makeup of a population.
>
...
>Many of the things
>that he describes as phenomena are actually mechansims (ie. adaptation) and 
>that which he criticizes as a mechanism is actually a phenomenon or
>observation. Is this just silly semantics? Can anyone help me here?
>

For the purposes of biological evolution, the definition works ok.  I have two
questions:

1) Is it still necessary to refer to our 20/20 hindsight about genetics in the
definition of a much older concept?

2) Do we want to consider evolution as a positive process that allows a
population to thrive in its environment better?  If so, then a random 'process
of change' is not suitable.  I say random, because the process is not oriented
in the definition.

While this definition stuff is going on, let me add some fuel for discussion
(flaming and arguing, too):

*The human population has come to an evolutionary standstill.*

What do you think?  I won't add my opinion, ...yet.

:-)  Frank Yue  ..Mr. Safety
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
University of Pennsylvania



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