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Natural Knockouts: Natural Selection Knocked Out
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Was the Watchmaker Blind? Or Was She One-Eyed?

by Raymond Noble 1 and Denis Noble 2,*
1
Institute for Women’s Health, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK
2
Department of Physiology, Anatomy & Genetics University of Oxford, S Parks Rd, Oxford OX1 3QX, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Edward L. Braun and Jukka Finne
Biology 2017, 6(4), 47; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology6040047
Received: 6 July 2017 / Revised: 4 December 2017 / Accepted: 14 December 2017 / Published: 20 December 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biology in the Early 21st Century: Evolution Beyond Selection)
The question whether evolution is blind is usually presented as a choice between no goals at all (‘the blind watchmaker’) and long-term goals which would be external to the organism, for example in the form of special creation or intelligent design. The arguments either way do not address the question whether there are short-term goals within rather than external to organisms. Organisms and their interacting populations have evolved mechanisms by which they can harness blind stochasticity and so generate rapid functional responses to environmental challenges. They can achieve this by re-organising their genomes and/or their regulatory networks. Epigenetic as well as DNA changes are involved. Evolution may have no foresight, but it is at least partially directed by organisms themselves and by the populations of which they form part. Similar arguments support partial direction in the evolution of behavior. View Full-Text
Keywords: blind chance; harnessing stochasticity; hypermutation; evolutionary hold mechanisms; adaptability driver; internal and external goals blind chance; harnessing stochasticity; hypermutation; evolutionary hold mechanisms; adaptability driver; internal and external goals
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Noble, R.; Noble, D. Was the Watchmaker Blind? Or Was She One-Eyed? Biology 2017, 6, 47.

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