Richard Dawkins: Using Computer Modeling to Explain the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection

1374 Words Apr 18th, 2014 6 Pages
Using Computer Modeling to Explain the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection

Throughout The Blind Watchmaker Richard Dawkins attempts to use computer modeling to explain and defend various aspects of the theory of evolution by natural selection. Where Dawkins’ computer modeling comes into use in a significant way is discussed in Chapter 3 of his book titled, “Accumulating Small Change”. In it, Dawkins takes the reader through explanations of what cumulative selection is and how it builds up biological complexity in a meaningful, and relatively quick, way. He does this with computer modeling and continues on with various other examples of computer models to explain how genes work, what mutation looks like, and how it gets
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This leads in nicely to how Dawkins uses computer modeling in the chapter. He starts off discussing the famous saying that even monkeys can write Shakespeare if they are left in a room with a typewriter for a long enough period of time (Dawkins 46). Dawkins explains that even this idea, on its own, is too difficult to visualize due to the complexity of the task, regardless of time, so he asks the reader to imagine that the monkey only has to type one phrase from Shakespeare, “Methinks it is like a weasel” using a typewriter with just 26 capital letters and a spacebar (Dawkins 46). He proceeds to ask the reader to consider how long it will take one monkey to successfully type this one particular sentence (Dawkins 46). Each attempt on the part of the monkey, which Dawkins created as a computer model, would represent one attempt at single-step selection and the odds are smaller than one can visualize (Dawkins 47). Dawkins then tweaks his monkey computer model to handle the process a bit differently. He explains the difference by saying that while this version of the program

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