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Genetic Inspirations vs Random Mutations


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In an effort to understand how mutations and natural selection could lead to the modern human eye, and the brain, which has developed along with it, I began to study the evolution of the eye.  I came here and read a few applicable threads and read through them, and I was introduced to all the different types of genetic mutations.  I am looking for types of mutations that are not random.  This is because I don't believe the earliest mutations which began the continuing evolution of the eye, for instance, were random.  

As I understand it, biological life may never have began without light.  And before any organisms had eyes, they had ways to process light for it's energy.  These biological systems were already using light, and could move to find light before we ever had anything close to an eyes with images.  So I studied the evolution of photosynthesis and of course, you find no references to the evolution of the eyes. In other words, cells were already capable of processing light.  So we started absorbing and using light in our biological engines from very early on.   Any cell mutation after that would not seem random.  It would be building upon the cell's ability to use light one way, and then develop a tool or a sense to use it another way, as a source of information and not just energy.  

Is the idea of random mutations that our cells made millions of mutations that could have used all sorts of sensory input for sources that don't even exist?  Organisms developed senses to sense the sources of info in our environments.  Didn't we first have to detect sound on some level, perhaps as vibrations, before we evolved ears to make more sense of those vibrations?  OR, our gene's just happened to create a mutation that led to a cell that could detect sound?  Or is hearing and our ear drums simply an extension of having nerves that could already detect touches, and was exposed to sounds with enough pressure to feel through those nerves?  Then another random mutation came along and started building the framework in the brain to use and process that info? 

Im sure the experts around here have dealt with these types of questions before, and I did try to find a thread that addressed it directly.  In the end, Im looking for any type of mutation that uses environmental influences to guide the mutation.  With a subject like our senses, where portions of the brain had to evolve along with the physical structure of the sensory gathering instrument itself, the eyes seeming to be the most complex, with the most amount of brain used to process it, does the brain not influence the further mutations "needed" in the physical tool? Do no mutations use the brain to guide the mutation of the gene for better performance?  OR even different performance?  Which is to say, maybe early biological life didn't need light to be created, but at some point, it used light for energy, and then at another point, it used light for info gathering in more detail, and our brains had to evolve to process and make sense of it.  None of these mutations were inspired by an earlier mutation, or even the biological goals of our brains to understand our surroundings to better survive?  Survival inspires us to find better ways to survive.  This plays no role in our gene development?

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The thoughts in OP are mostly speculative and do not follow current knowledge (see below), so I am moving it to speculations for now (depending how the discussion develops).  The rules for speculative threads can be found here: https://www.scienceforums.net/forum/29-speculations/#elForumRules

 

First of all this assertion:

On 3/21/2021 at 1:52 PM, JohnSSM said:

As I understand it, biological life may never have began without light. And before any organisms had eyes, they had ways to process light for it's energy. 

That is mostly wrong. Initial life on Earth did not harvest light for energy for about 500 million years. The first (known) means of energy production were likely chemolithotrophs which do not use light. And rather obviously all the microorganisms which dwell in deep sea vents, soil and so on are somewhat decoupled from the primary products of photosynthesis (such as oxygen) though of course they are now connected to the overall carbon cycle.

On 3/21/2021 at 1:52 PM, JohnSSM said:

In other words, cells were already capable of processing light.  So we started absorbing and using light in our biological engines from very early on.   Any cell mutation after that would not seem random.  It would be building upon the cell's ability to use light one way, and then develop a tool or a sense to use it another way, as a source of information and not just energy.  

First, this seems a bit like an argument of for irreducible complexity. Some overall information why this argument is flawed can be found here:

http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB200.html

 

On 3/21/2021 at 1:52 PM, JohnSSM said:

So I studied the evolution of photosynthesis and of course, you find no references to the evolution of the eyes. In other words, cells were already capable of processing light. 

I am not sure what you tried to look up, but there is a host of literature out there highlighting the various light-receptors that evolved including those in our ancestors. Eyes have evolved several times independently, but all of them have a basis in using specific light-responsive pigments. 

Quote

Any cell mutation after that would not seem random.  It would be building upon the cell's ability to use light one way, and then develop a tool or a sense to use it another way, as a source of information and not just energy.  

Is the idea of random mutations that our cells made millions of mutations that could have used all sorts of sensory input for sources that don't even exist?  Organisms developed senses to sense the sources of info in our environments.  Didn't we first have to detect sound on some level, perhaps as vibrations, before we evolved ears to make more sense of those vibrations? 

This argument does not follow. Mutations are merely changes in the DNA. They are not directed for the most part. There is no sensory feedback how mutations should be. A very simplified way to see it is that, most genes code for proteins which then do something. Mutations in those proteins can then change functions. They can also duplicate, so that you have one copy that does the original function whereas the second one might mutate and slightly change and acquire new functions without compromising cellular health (as the original copy is still doing its job).

And the functions can be very different. Our ears use stereocilia (kind of hair-like appendices to detect sound (they are cellular outgrowths and not just a simple protein, though). They are related to another structure, so-called microvilli which are kind of simple cellular structures which effectively increase cell surfaces. The original purpose of stereocilia was simple mechanosensing but has at some point been co-opted to sense sound. Though in principle all they do is still measuring the mechanical force on them.

Another example which is often used in the irreducible complexity debate are flagella where it has been shown how accumulation of small changes resulted in different structures with different functions: http://www.talkdesign.org/faqs/flagellum.html

So as a whole there is no reason to assume that there is some hitherto undetected system that somehow takes sensory inputs and then changes the DNA (i.e. causing mutations).

The only example that is somewhat related is much more unspecific and is related to stress. Those can result either in higher mutation rates (which are still random). The other element are epigenetic changes (which causes differences in gene expression, but do not change the genetic material on the sequence level per se), however their contribution to evolution are considered to be much less than classic mutations. But again, those are not specifically guided (i.e. sound does not suddenly result in cells creating stereocilia, for example). 

Rather things like age, but also exposure to toxins and stressors (such as cigarettes) have been shown to change methylation patterns, for example.

 

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27 minutes ago, CharonY said:

That is mostly wrong. Initial life on Earth did not harvest light for energy for about 500 million years. The first (known) means of energy production were likely chemolithotrophs which do not use light. And rather obviously all the microorganisms which dwell in deep sea vents, soil and so on are somewhat decoupled from the primary products of photosynthesis (such as oxygen) though of course they are now connected to the overall carbon cycle.

I didnt say that initial life harvested light for energy.  There are a few modern perspectives that believe that solar light was just one of the variables that spawned the transition from non-living to living systems.  (Sun's UV Light Helped Spark Life - Astrobiology Magazine) Then I just stated that organisms were using light for energy before they had eyes.  

Irreducible complexity (IC) is the argument that certain biological systems cannot have evolved by successive small modifications to pre-existing functional systems through natural selection, because no less complex system would function.  I do not argue that.  I argue the opposite.

 

37 minutes ago, CharonY said:

I am not sure what you tried to look up, but there is a host of literature out there highlighting the various light-receptors that evolved including those in our ancestors. Eyes have evolved several times independently, but all of them have a basis in using specific light-responsive pigments. 

I said I didnt find anything about photosynthesis being a precursor to the evolution of the eyes.  IF someone else has considered it, my quick searches did not find them.

"This argument does not follow. Mutations are merely changes in the DNA. They are not directed for the most part."
For the most part?  Every year they find more genes which are attached to experience, not to mention, epigenetics which can change the gene expression.  

I know this will sound crazy and unfounded to you, but since we moved to speculations, why not speculate?  Ha.

If we work this evolution in reverse, looking back from where humans are, and how we make decisions, and how our neurons work, we encounter new environmental stressors all the time, and we seek to predict these events so we can change the course of that interaction.  Our neurons seek to predict where they should send information or thoughts.  
 
You drive to work, and sometimes you hit bad traffic.  So you automatically begin thinking of ways to avoid the traffic.  Ways around it, leaving at different times, etc.  No one had to teach you to do this.  Your brain does this, every ordered brain does this, so you experience those neuronal behaviors and they guide how you deal with everyday issues.  And you don't consider, that inherent and inherited system, made for sensing changes in the environment, matching them with changes in itself (sometimes incorrectly), and then finding solutions based on much more than trial and error, wasn't being used in our own evolution by our genes?   Maybe all gene mutations were all just random mutations, playing trial and error to evolve.  Or maybe, the ability to see, started as the ability to detect, and absorb light for energy and evolved from a simpler system into a much much more complex system.  

That is not irreducible complexity.  It is reducible complexity.  Every mutation that led from the photosynthetic beginnings, to having modern day eyes, would not have to be random.  They were inspired.  But that really just means they "learned" what changes to what genes would lead to structural changes that build from the last.  Einstein gets all the credit for his theories, but without Maxwell and many before him, would he have randomly mutated his new solution?  No, he built it from past solutions.  

Thanks for taking the time to read and reply! 


 

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18 minutes ago, JohnSSM said:

Our neurons seek to predict where they should send information or thoughts.  

No. That’s not correct. On a number of levels this fails. Neurons don’t seek anything. They are cells following basic chemistry and ion cascades. In aggregate as a system they underly many of the things you’re trying to describe, but what you’re doing is more poetry than science. Fun at dinner parties, but not helpful in research or understanding. 

18 minutes ago, JohnSSM said:

so you experience those neuronal behaviors and they guide how you deal with everyday issues.

The mistake here is saying the neurons do this. You’re correct that we intuitively practice possible future outcomes, mentally rehearse interactions with unseen others, and we can game out various scenarios in advance and even nearly in real time for simple stuff, but that happens at a much higher level than neurons. 

18 minutes ago, JohnSSM said:

you don't consider, that inherent and inherited system, made for sensing changes in the environment, matching them with changes in itself (sometimes incorrectly), and then finding solutions based on much more than trial and error, wasn't being used in our own evolution by our genes? 

It is based on trial and error, though. Place an infant into those same situations and you’ll quickly realize how few of those behaviors are innate. 

18 minutes ago, JohnSSM said:

Or maybe, the ability to see, started as the ability to detect, and absorb light for energy and evolved from a simpler system into a much much more complex system.  

This seems correct. Some mutations led to the ability to detect chemical changes. Other mutations led to the ability to detect light and shadow. Those who could detect shadows got eaten less often than those that did not, the trait was selected, and future mutations kept changing it and those changes also got selected. This is pretty  standard stuff. 

Edited by iNow
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No. That’s not correct. On a number of levels this fails. Neurons don’t seek anything. They are cells following basic chemistry and ion cascades. In aggregate as a system they underly many of the things you’re trying to describe, but what you’re doing is more poetry than science. Fun at dinner parties, but not helpful in research or understanding. 

You have some research on neurons to do. Have a good dinner.

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11 minutes ago, JohnSSM said:

You have some research on neurons to do. Have a good dinner.

Then please further elucidate and educate me, oh wise pontificating one.

I wholeheartedly agree with you, it’s been a few decades now since I spent any meaningful time deeply researching neuron behavior, and it is without hesitation or sarcasm that I welcome coaching, mentorship, and guidance on where next to best focus my efforts coming from your clearly superior mind. 

So, kind erudite sir... What, pray tell, do you specifically recommend I pursue and research next to fill the cavernous gaping gaps you are here now  suggesting exist in my knowledge of neurons, their behavior, and what behaviorally emerges from them?

Edited by iNow
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The mistake here is saying the neurons do this. You’re correct that we intuitively practice possible future outcomes, mentally rehearse interactions with unseen others, and we can game out various scenarios in advance and even nearly in real time for simple stuff, but that happens at a much higher level than neurons. 

What higher level specifically?  We intuitively practice possible future outcomes?  You mean, our brains, using a system that we did not develop at all.  Intuition?  I refer to that as Bayesian probability.  

2 minutes ago, iNow said:

Then please further elucidate and educate me, oh wise pontificating one.

I wholeheartedly agree with you, it’s been a few decades now since I spent any meaningful time deeply researching neuron behavior and it is without hesitation that I welcome the coaching, mentorship, and guidance on where next to focus from your clearly superior mind. 

So, kind erudite sir... What, pray tell, do you specifically recommend I pursue and research next to fill the cavernous gaping gaps you here are suggesting exist in my knowledge of neurons?m, their behavior, and what behaviorally emerges from them?

No thanks...Enjoy your explorations.

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Before I engage with any new questions, kindly please first clarify what SPECIFICALLY about neurons you’re recommending I research. 

Or “explore.”

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iNow, There is much to be known and understood about neuronal behavior, and not only it's behavior, but the structure of neurons, dendrites and the brain itself.  There are many factors contributing to the processes you simply described above.  I'd first learn everything about neurotransmitters and hormones, how they effect moods, how moods effect behaviors and decisions, or neuronal activity.  So our subjective experience can affect neuronal behavior and lead to all sorts of disordered personalities and types of disorders.  In disordered people, information does not take the ordered routes their brains have established.  They were able to add disorder to their brain structure and function with disordered beliefs.  It was all done at the neuronal level and there is no higher place that dictates human solutions, perceptions or behaviors.   Explain those realities with "Neurons don’t seek anything. They are cells following basic chemistry and ion cascades"

Neurons do seek things.  They seek to save energy when it is not needed, they seek to feel comfortable responses to their senses, they seek to further our survival.  If they didnt, we wouldnt.  Your neurons do not get their behaviors from your subjective consciousness, your subjective consciousness gets your behaviors from your neurons.  So, research all that and get back to me.

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30 minutes ago, JohnSSM said:

Neurons do seek things.

No. They really don’t. Stop anthropomorphizing them. They just “are,” and “are” in accordance with underlying physics and chemistry... like kickballs being struck by feet and influenced by winds or pebbles being shifted by the currents of a flowing steam. 
 

33 minutes ago, JohnSSM said:

Your neurons do not get their behaviors from your subjective consciousness, your subjective consciousness gets your behaviors from your neurons

Uh huh. Ok. Whatever, Deepak. 

34 minutes ago, JohnSSM said:

So, research all that and get back to me

I’m more than happy to get back to you. I’m rather clearly more than happy to engage you on this wonderful topic, though you still haven’t bothered clarifying what precisely you recommend I research. 

Will you do that now? Please?

If not, will you kindly at least attempt to try to learn how to use the quote function forums like this one have offered its users for over 23 years?

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Well, a large group of physicists and behaviorists believe you are wrong about neurons and seeking.  Im tired of the uneducated person mocking me.  Enjoy your exploration.

Why cant kickballs become addicted to cocaine, chocolate or sex?  Explore your world.

Apparently your theory is that the drive to survive is a learned behavior.  That's awesome.  It flies in the face of evolution itself, but go with it.

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9 hours ago, JohnSSM said:

Well, a large group of physicists and behaviorists believe you are wrong about neurons and seeking.

How so? Please elaborate. 

9 hours ago, JohnSSM said:

Im tired of the uneducated person mocking me.  Enjoy your exploration.

The suggestion here is that I'm the uneducated person on this subject. Is that a correct reading of your comment?

9 hours ago, JohnSSM said:

Why cant kickballs become addicted to cocaine, chocolate or sex?

Because they lack nervous systems which chemically trend toward the lowest possible energy state and consequently there is no movement toward ion balances across the system in aggregate. They also lack the various reinforcement mechanisms driven by neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin and oxytocin which all tend to drive said addictions. Interestingly, addiction tends also to be a learned behavior where a desensitization to the activity of those transmitters leads to other spikes in stress hormones and changes to autonomic functions, but that's somewhat peripheral from your mention of learned behaviors above, so consider it just an interesting tidbit. 

9 hours ago, JohnSSM said:

Apparently your theory is that the drive to survive is a learned behavior.  That's awesome. 

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt here and assume you've simply misunderstood me and failed to properly comprehend my points, not that you're intentionally misrepresenting me or arguing against strawmen. 

If you'd like me to clarify something, please be specific what that is and I'm happy to do so.

Or... you know... answer the question I'm now asking you for the 3rd or 4th time... what specifically are you suggesting I go research in context of neurons and the drivers of human behavior?

Edited by iNow
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11 hours ago, JohnSSM said:

Neurons do seek things.  They seek to save energy when it is not needed, they seek to feel comfortable responses to their senses, they seek to further our survival.  If they didnt, we wouldnt. 

I think you are confusing the components of the brain with the brain itself.

Circuits don't do my online shopping at Amazon. They are just a component of my computer. All by themselves the circuits just open and close.

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10 hours ago, JohnSSM said:

Im tired of the uneducated person mocking me. 

!

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If you think you're being mocked, as opposed to having your non-mainstream ideas attacked, please use the Report Post function. Members are allowed to attack ideas, but not the people who have them. This is an important distinction, and dovetails well with our rules on civility.

 
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13 minutes ago, zapatos said:

I think you are confusing the components of the brain with the brain itself.

Circuits don't do my online shopping at Amazon. They are just a component of my computer. All by themselves the circuits just open and close.

Nice point, +1, but have a care. The next stage of evolution of circuits is to only open and close at the magic word 'alexa' , to the exclusion of other online retailers.

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1 hour ago, zapatos said:

I think you are confusing the components of the brain with the brain itself.

Circuits don't do my online shopping at Amazon. They are just a component of my computer. All by themselves the circuits just open and close.

 

1 hour ago, Phi for All said:
!

Moderator Note

If you think you're being mocked, as opposed to having your non-mainstream ideas attacked, please use the Report Post function. Members are allowed to attack ideas, but not the people who have them. This is an important distinction, and dovetails well with our rules on civility.

 

Am  I allowed to attack the idea of your rules? 

1 hour ago, studiot said:

Nice point, +1, but have a care. The next stage of evolution of circuits is to only open and close at the magic word 'alexa' , to the exclusion of other online retailers.

I think you are confusing the brain with a CPU and neurons with circuits.  It's not at all.  All the components of the brain are neurons.

2 hours ago, iNow said:

How so? Please elaborate. 

The suggestion here is that I'm the uneducated person on this subject. Is that a correct reading of your comment?

Because they lack nervous systems which chemically trend toward the lowest possible energy state and consequently there is no movement toward ion balances across the system in aggregate. They also lack the various reinforcement mechanisms driven by neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin and oxytocin which all tend to drive said addictions. Interestingly, addiction tends also to be a learned behavior where a desensitization to the activity of those transmitters leads to other spikes in stress hormones and changes to autonomic functions, but that's somewhat peripheral from your mention of learned behaviors above, so consider it just an interesting tidbit. 

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt here and assume you've simply misunderstood me and failed to properly comprehend my points, not that you're intentionally misrepresenting me or arguing against strawmen. 

If you'd like me to clarify something, please be specific what that is and I'm happy to do so.

Or... you know... answer the question I'm now asking you for the 3rd or 4th time... what specifically are you suggesting I go research in context of neurons and the drivers of human behavior?

That has to be the dumbest stream of ideas I've seen for a long time.  Im sure you are a fabulous person, but your ideas are just stupid.

1 hour ago, Phi for All said:
!

Moderator Note

If you think you're being mocked, as opposed to having your non-mainstream ideas attacked, please use the Report Post function. Members are allowed to attack ideas, but not the people who have them. This is an important distinction, and dovetails well with our rules on civility.

 

"Uh huh. Ok. Whatever, Deepak. "  I am not Deepak Chopra and I am very offended that this person called me Deepak.  Aren't you going to step in an warn this person?  They attacked me, not my idea.  Mommy, mommy, the man called me Deepak.  Come to the rescue.

 

2 hours ago, iNow said:

The suggestion here is that I'm the uneducated person on this subject. Is that a correct reading of your comment?

Yes, absolutely and obviously so.  IF you had a proper education in neuropsychiatry, you'd have a better knowledge of how neurons operate within the realm of evolution and learning.  IF you were right, our brains would only be computers, which they aren't, and we would not be humans.  SO your education of modern day neuropsychiatry is obviously lacking.  Uneducated.

12 hours ago, iNow said:

No. They really don’t. Stop anthropomorphizing them

LOL.  Now this really shows your lack of understanding on the subject.  That your ideas about neurons are not educated.  You want me to stop giving neurons human type traits?  And where do human traits, like personality, come from?  The behavior of neurons. You really need to start anthropomorphizing them to truly understand them.

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