Can Natural Selection Apply to HIV?

Erik Nelson en at ix.netcom.com
Wed Feb 1 03:10:48 EST 1995


In <MAILQUEUE-101.950126102404.256 at molbiol.uct.ac.za> ED at molbiol.uct.ac.za 
("RYBICKI, ED") writes: 

>>   The ultimate goal of a virus is to reproduce.  
>^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>
>Surely that should be: the ultimate goal of LIVING THINGS is to 
>reproduce???

>> Since viruses are not alive...
>
>Really?  Pre-judging your case a little, aren't you?  There's a 
>whole lot of arguing goes on BEFORE you get to that point, BEFORE 
>you start basing arguments on that premise.
>

Wouldn't you also say that "the ultimate goal of LIVING THINGS is to 
reproduce" is itself a premise? Should we say that reproduction is maximized 
subject to certain constraints, and what would these constraints be.....? My 
intuition is that to answer these questions would lead to more assumptions. 

The information theoretic picture of evolution discussed in the post above 
does not depend on arbitrary assumptions like a "goal". In support of this 
picture, I would like to point out the papers of E. T. Jaynes ("Information 
Theory and Statistical Mechanics I and II",Physical Review 107 and 108 
(1957)) which provide a great explanation of WHY so much energy was wasted 
in the field of physics trying to justify Statistical Mechanics on the basis 
of such arbitrary assumptions (i.e. ergodicity, equal a priori 
probabilites..........much like assuming a goal for the evolution of 
organisms). As for statistical mechanics, Jaynes proof showed that, among 
other things, none of these assumptions were needed when entropy (the 
"measure of uncertainty") became the primitive concept.  The two papers 
(parts I and II) are quite relevant to these comments, and are well worth 
the reading.  


-- 
-------------
Robert Brooks				¹D§^¦nªÌ¬O§^¸é¡A
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