Don Smith don_smith at
Mon Jun 17 20:01:19 PDT 2002

Steve Bougerolle wrote:
> On Tue, 2002-06-18 at 00:33, Don Smith wrote:
> > I found this, but you'll probably have to come up with the summary
> > yourself:
> >
> >
> >
> > And for some nice equations, this:
> >
> >
> Now we're getting somewhere!  At least we would be if my IP address
> weren't banned from this site for some reason.  Yesterday I found my
> address being filtered so I couldn't read my own POP mail.  Maybe I
> better change ISPs again... sigh...

I hate when that happens...

> > The real problem is that the factors that go into speciation are not all
> > known.
> Ok, that satisfies my political objections :-)
> > And of the known ones, few of them can be measured. How do you
> > come up with a probability for sexual selection? Biology is not the hard
> > science that physics is.
> Biology for sure isn't a hard science, but I think it could be harder
> than it traditionally has been.  Put that down to science snobbery if
> you want, but the trend is clearly towards more numerical methods in
> biology, isn't it?

Numerical methods have been a part of it all along. Statistical analysis
of your data, to see that it actually does support your hypothesis, is
expected. Computer models have been around for a long time too. It's
just the complexity of the system being studied that makes the results
so much less definitive. This allows for much more interpretation of

> > Besides, my feeling is that the true probablity equation has a few
> > million terms. I don't think you will ever get the answer you are
> > seeking.
> As I said in my previous post, this is a standard difficulty and the
> standard way of handling it is a simplified model.  If you analyzed the
> probability of radioactive decay with complete rigour, the equation
> would have something like Avogadro's number of independent terms.
> > That number is complete rubbish. Species with high generation rates (20
> > minutes per generation in some bacteria) can generate new species
> > rapidly while others take much more time. And the means used was
> > probably some observed rate in elephants.
> Well, it isn't my number, just one I found :-).  If it's that much
> easier to observe speciation then it should be tremendously easier to
> model it numerically.

I know that you just found it. I wouldn't have been as harsh had you
come up with it ;-)
Um, rapidly in these terms is on the order of hundreds of years, I
suppose. Don't really know 'cause I haven't observed a speciation yet...

> > The unknown is infinitely large, IMHO. Therefore, what we know is a
> > close approximation of zero.
> Hm.. Well, rather than argue more about probability now, I'll review
> your URLs then see what I think.
> --
> Steve Bougerolle
> Creek & Cowley Consulting
> --
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