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Subject: The Third Way of Evolution? rss

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Stuart
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I know, I know, why's the "anti-science creation guy" talking about evolution - to be honest, for all the usual reasons, probably - but this time, just to be more specific, I'm wondering how many here would consider acquired toad toxin resistance as described below to be a case of what's been termed "natural genetic engineering" by some?


'Nicholas Casewell, an evolutionary biologist at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in the UK, and his colleagues studied how three groups of snakes and one family of lizards had evolved their resistance to toad poisons.

In all these animals, the gene coding for the sodium channel had changed, altering the same two amino acids in identical ways each time. As a result, the toxin can no longer block the channel.

Then the team looked at other insects, amphibians and mammals known to be resistant to cardiac glycosides. They found similar changes to the channel in each case, although there was slight variation in the amino acids that were altered.

This striking convergence on a few evolutionary outcomes probably occurs because sodium channels play such a critical role in cells. “There are very few options for a gene to modify itself to develop resistance without impairing function,” says Casewell. “It suggests that in this system, evolution can be highly predictable.”'



I ask because he describes the gene under study as "modifying itself", and the fact that the same genetic solution has been developed by different species, which sounds like something more than the usual neo-Darwinist evolutionary processes have taken place. Is there a third way?


Edit: Added emphasis to the weblinks - sorry, got a little too clever for my own good, there
 
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gamesterinns wrote:
I know, I know, why's the "anti-science creation guy" talking about evolution - to be honest, for all the usual reasons, probably - but this time, just to be more specific, I'm wondering how many here would consider acquired toad toxin resistance as described below to be a case of what's been termed "natural genetic engineering" by some?


'Nicholas Casewell, an evolutionary biologist at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in the UK, and his colleagues studied how three groups of snakes and one family of lizards had evolved their resistance to toad poisons.

In all these animals, the gene coding for the sodium channel had changed, altering the same two amino acids in identical ways each time. As a result, the toxin can no longer block the channel.

Then the team looked at other insects, amphibians and mammals known to be resistant to cardiac glycosides. They found similar changes to the channel in each case, although there was slight variation in the amino acids that were altered.

This striking convergence on a few evolutionary outcomes probably occurs because sodium channels play such a critical role in cells. “There are very few options for a gene to modify itself to develop resistance without impairing function,” says Casewell. “It suggests that in this system, evolution can be highly predictable.”'



I ask because he describes the gene under study as "modifying itself", and the fact that the same genetic solution has been developed by different species, which sounds like something more than the usual neo-Darwinist evolutionary processes have taken place. Is there a third way?


Here's how the gene modifies itself.

A million creatures are born and 1000 of them have mutations. Of the ones with mutations 3 have mutations in the sodium channel.

A significant number of the creatures are killed by toxins to the sodium channel.

2 of the 3 survive to spawn and now there are a million creatures and 50 creatures with the mutation from their parents and 3 sodium mutations (and another 997 random mutations- including 1 of the 50).

Suddenly, humans discover and begin to use the sodium toxin and kill 900,0000 of the creatures- leaving their habitat wide open. All 53 of the mutants survive and 47 of them procreate successfully.

The population drops temporarily to 2500 but experiences explosive growth due to lack of competition. Very soon, there are a million creatures and 975,000 of them are immune to the sodium toxin. Another 20,000 dislike the smell of the toxin and avoid it but are not immune to it. And 5,000 are killed by the toxin.

The gene didn't modify it self. The survivors with modified genes passed it on. Those without the modified gene or some other trait died.

Notice there was nothing uniquely creative about this process. Unless the sodium toxin started killing large amounts of creatures, the 3 mutations would have still existed but made no difference (like the other 997 mutations).

It is not a unique process at all. In fact, in humans we measurably have an average of 60 mutations every generation in addition to sexual selection.
http://www.sanger.ac.uk/about/press/2011/110612.html

Now- the self modifying genes that respond to the environment-- that is sort of cool but not what you are talking about.
http://www.whatisepigenetics.com/fundamentals/

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David Dearlove
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This is a strange website for you to reference.
It is invitation only, so you (and I) haven't read it. It is about epigenetics and related subjects and specifically says
Quote:
It has come to our attention that THE THIRD WAY web site is wrongly being referenced by proponents of Intelligent Design and creationist ideas as support for their arguments. We intend to make it clear that the website and scientists listed on the web site do not support or subscribe to any proposals that resort to inscrutable divine forces or supernatural intervention, whether they are called Creationism, Intelligent Design, or anything else.

Where do you get your stuff from? Please cite them rather than stuff they misquote.
Also please please please read a few basic books. I have recommended archaeology books for dating, I am sure there are people here who would recommend a good evolution primer.
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DavidDearlove wrote:

Where do you get your stuff from? Please cite them rather than stuff they misquote.
Asked several times, not answered.

It used to bug me a little, but over time gamesterinns changed his introductions so it's clear what he believes, what he's interested in, and what he's trying to demonstrate.

IMO he's being honest enough. More than enough perhaps, given that it's RSP, where being tactically economical with the truth is the norm rather than the exception
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None of this explains alien life forms, some of which exist on earth right now -

We come in peace
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DavidDearlove wrote:
I have recommend archaeology books for dating


But they didn't help me find a long term partner or even get laid.
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maxo-texas wrote:
The gene didn't modify it self. The survivors with modified genes passed it on. Those without the modified gene or some other trait died...Now- the self modifying genes that respond to the environment-- that is sort of cool but not what you are talking about.
http://www.whatisepigenetics.com/fundamentals/



So, did the researcher quoted in the New Scientist article just misspeak, or do you just feel he has drawn a wrong conclusion about the ability of this gene to modify itself? In your opinion, is the concept of what's being called natural genetic engineering plausible?

I should say it is plausible in my opinion, in fact it's one possible element of evolution that makes the most sense to me - I simply don't buy the random beneficial mutation/natural selection process you described as a plausible way of explaining all the characteristics of life(which is why I don't read all those basic evolution books - it's like asking me to read books on astrology). In the case of these particular snakes and reptiles acquiring resistance, I think something more is at work, as it sounds like it's a very narrow range for a beneficial mutation to occur in each species - natural genetic engineering would seem to be the more likely answer, something that might be incurred when a snake ate a frog that was a little less poisonous than usual for some reason.
 
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gamesterinns wrote:
maxo-texas wrote:
The gene didn't modify it self. The survivors with modified genes passed it on. Those without the modified gene or some other trait died...Now- the self modifying genes that respond to the environment-- that is sort of cool but not what you are talking about.
http://www.whatisepigenetics.com/fundamentals/



So, did the researcher quoted in the New Scientist article just misspeak,


No, he was quite clearly just using casual language. You have to come from a very specific POV to hook on to that use of casual language and use it as a kind of aha moment.


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gamesterinns wrote:
maxo-texas wrote:
The gene didn't modify it self. The survivors with modified genes passed it on. Those without the modified gene or some other trait died...Now- the self modifying genes that respond to the environment-- that is sort of cool but not what you are talking about.
http://www.whatisepigenetics.com/fundamentals/



So, did the researcher quoted in the New Scientist article just misspeak, or do you just feel he has drawn a wrong conclusion about the ability of this gene to modify itself? In your opinion, is the concept of what's being called natural genetic engineering plausible?

I should say it is plausible in my opinion, in fact it's one possible element of evolution that makes the most sense to me - I simply don't buy the random beneficial mutation/natural selection process you described as a plausible way of explaining all the characteristics of life(which is why I don't read all those basic evolution books - it's like asking me to read books on astrology). In the case of these particular snakes and reptiles acquiring resistance, I think something more is at work, as it sounds like it's a very narrow range for a beneficial mutation to occur in each species - natural genetic engineering would seem to be the more likely answer, something that might be incurred when a snake ate a frog that was a little less poisonous than usual for some reason.


I read the bolded part as "I don't need to educate myself on a subject because I've already arrived at my conclusion."
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gamesterinns wrote:
So, did the researcher quoted in the New Scientist article just misspeak, or do you just feel he has drawn a wrong conclusion about the ability of this gene to modify itself? In your opinion, is the concept of what's being called natural genetic engineering plausible?

You're incorrectly interpreting a figure of speech, which is convenient and unambiguous in context, as if it was a new theory.

Where does this term "natural genetic engineering" come from? (link or exact quote in context please). You seem to be trying to leverage another figure of speech into another wild claim. Just for clarity - neither an "Intelligent Designer" nor any supernatural agent are needed to explain any part of evolution, including the newest discoveries.

gamesterinns wrote:
I should say it is plausible in my opinion, in fact it's one possible element of evolution that makes the most sense to me - I simply don't buy the random beneficial mutation/natural selection process you described as a plausible way of explaining all the characteristics of life(which is why I don't read all those basic evolution books - it's like asking me to read books on astrology). In the case of these particular snakes and reptiles acquiring resistance, I think something more is at work, as it sounds like it's a very narrow range for a beneficial mutation to occur in each species - natural genetic engineering would seem to be the more likely answer, something that might be incurred when a snake ate a frog that was a little less poisonous than usual for some reason.
Again - there is no requirement for anything that might be termed "natural genetic engineering".

maxo-texas' explanation is sufficient (though perhaps he should have worded his post more carefully to avoid misinterpretation).
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Vapix wrote:
gamesterinns wrote:
So, did the researcher quoted in the New Scientist article just misspeak, or do you just feel he has drawn a wrong conclusion about the ability of this gene to modify itself? In your opinion, is the concept of what's being called natural genetic engineering plausible?

You're incorrectly interpreting a figure of speech, which is convenient and unambiguous in context, as if it was a new theory.

Where does this term "natural genetic engineering" come from? (link or exact quote in context please). You seem to be trying to leverage another figure of speech into another wild claim. Just for clarity - neither an "Intelligent Designer" nor any supernatural agent are needed to explain any part of evolution, including the newest discoveries.

gamesterinns wrote:
I should say it is plausible in my opinion, in fact it's one possible element of evolution that makes the most sense to me - I simply don't buy the random beneficial mutation/natural selection process you described as a plausible way of explaining all the characteristics of life(which is why I don't read all those basic evolution books - it's like asking me to read books on astrology). In the case of these particular snakes and reptiles acquiring resistance, I think something more is at work, as it sounds like it's a very narrow range for a beneficial mutation to occur in each species - natural genetic engineering would seem to be the more likely answer, something that might be incurred when a snake ate a frog that was a little less poisonous than usual for some reason.
Again - there is no requirement for anything that might be termed "natural genetic engineering".

maxo-texas' explanation is sufficient (though perhaps he should have worded his post more carefully to avoid misinterpretation).


Ah but Vapix, this is RSP. That level of care is only theoretically possible here.
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maxo-texas wrote:
Ah but Vapix, this is RSP. That level of care is only theoretically possible here.
True

It's good practice though - perhaps even an opportunity for some "natural terminological development".

I try to write my responses to gamesterinns so that it's impossible for him to find anything that can be spun into support or acceptance for any aspect of ID.

It's a "bats and moths" situation though.

ID may be an eccentric belief, but their research department is clever, and continually searches for new ways to frame their arguments and questions. I can't carelessly reuse the earlier defensive terminology in case they've hijacked part of it and injected it into their latest set of loaded questions.

It will be interesting to see if, given long enough, they'll learn anything from participating in a wetware simulation of their favorite topic.
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I just reread the thread title and it hit me. In order for there to be a "third way" there would have to be a second. Is it "A" or "B" or the third way "C" (colloquially). I'll assume he meant an alternative to "A" which the example given, isn't. I'm not aware of a second type of evolution or did I miss something?
 
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DWTripp wrote:
None of this explains alien life forms, some of which exist on earth right now -

We come in peace


Tentacle Porn = Alien Anal Probe in Action?
 
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rcbevco wrote:
I just reread the thread title and it hit me. In order for there to be a "third way" there would have to be a second. Is it "A" or "B" or the third way "C" (colloquially). I'll assume he meant an alternative to "A" which the example given, isn't. I'm not aware of a second type of evolution or did I miss something?

it's all just evolution. the funny thing here is that the discovery of DNA as the agent of heredity was discovered after Darwin. Epigenetics is just another later discover. it doesn't discount Evolution, but just furthers our understanding.
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I know there isn't a second way silly. Unless of course you want to discuss macro vs micro .
 
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jmilum wrote:
rcbevco wrote:
I just reread the thread title and it hit me. In order for there to be a "third way" there would have to be a second. Is it "A" or "B" or the third way "C" (colloquially). I'll assume he meant an alternative to "A" which the example given, isn't. I'm not aware of a second type of evolution or did I miss something?

it's all just evolution. the funny thing here is that the discovery of DNA as the agent of heredity was discovered after Darwin. Epigenetics is just another later discover. it doesn't discount Evolution, but just furthers our understanding.
The term comes from here:
http://www.thethirdwayofevolution.com/

It's linked in the OP, but easy to miss.

It's not an ID site. On the first page, read the white on red text and the very last paragraph.
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Vapix wrote:
jmilum wrote:
rcbevco wrote:
I just reread the thread title and it hit me. In order for there to be a "third way" there would have to be a second. Is it "A" or "B" or the third way "C" (colloquially). I'll assume he meant an alternative to "A" which the example given, isn't. I'm not aware of a second type of evolution or did I miss something?

it's all just evolution. the funny thing here is that the discovery of DNA as the agent of heredity was discovered after Darwin. Epigenetics is just another later discover. it doesn't discount Evolution, but just furthers our understanding.
The term comes from here:
http://www.thethirdwayofevolution.com/

It's linked in the OP, but easy to miss.

It's not an ID site. On the first page, read the white on red text and the very last paragraph.


No but in the red/white it clearly list neo-Darwinism and ID and the third way which is modified neo-Neo-Darwinism (hair splitting)? I will point out that the sight is only concerned with naturalistic explanations.
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DavidDearlove wrote:
Also please please please read a few basic books. I have recommended archaeology books for dating, I am sure there are people here who would recommend a good evolution primer.


In the spirit of fairness, I did read Darwin's On the Origin of the Species, and even broke down my thoughts on it as I was doing so here in RSP somewhere; I read another book on radiometric dating and dendrochronolgy; one on the evolution of feathers and flight(ground-up or trees-down? and all that); one(or was it two?) on the similarities and differences between chimps and humans; most recently one on the evolution of race(a slightly controversial topic, I understand); and one by one of the Third Way guys that I found was extremely enlightening in terms of the latest research into molecular biology(I found the others quite intellectually satisfying, but this one especially so). I think there's probably one or two I've forgotten to mention, but no bother - however, I haven't really read anything on the actual science of archaeology(unless perusing the highlights of a book dealing with the Folsom artifacts counts?). Do you have a recommendation for a fairly basic look at archaeology, or even something a little more advanced, preferably something my library is prepared to lend me? I'm looking at one by a Paul Bohn - is he any good?

Vapix wrote:
maxo-texas wrote:
Ah but Vapix, this is RSP. That level of care is only theoretically possible here.
True

It's good practice though - perhaps even an opportunity for some "natural terminological development".

I try to write my responses to gamesterinns so that it's impossible for him to find anything that can be spun into support or acceptance for any aspect of ID.

It's a "bats and moths" situation though.

ID may be an eccentric belief, but their research department is clever, and continually searches for new ways to frame their arguments and questions. I can't carelessly reuse the earlier defensive terminology in case they've hijacked part of it and injected it into their latest set of loaded questions.

It will be interesting to see if, given long enough, they'll learn anything from participating in a wetware simulation of their favorite topic.


I run into this same problem with the 6-day creationists all the time...

In terms of what was quoted, I think if the person in question didn't mean to say that genes can modify themselves, then he should have stayed a long way away from using the terminology he did, especially considering how loaded it is these days. This kind of thing is a problem for those of us looking at evolution from the outside in - biologists do tend to be very casual at times when discussing evolutionary processes, attributing almost intelligent qualities to what is essentially a blind process. I understand they don't want to lose their audience by breaking down into "science speak" all the time, but it would be helpful if they could find other metaphors.

---------------------------------------------

Is there a microbadge for posting a thread that gets hits on Google?(I even used the Google link to get here, this time.) I mean, whether you like what I'm saying or not, 2nd page on Google* has got to be good for BGG, right?


*Forgive me, I had some time to kill - just hope they don't come after me for a trademark violation
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gamesterinns wrote:

Vapix wrote:
[...] ID may be an eccentric belief, but their research department is clever, and continually searches for new ways to frame their arguments and questions. I can't carelessly reuse the earlier defensive terminology in case they've hijacked part of it and injected it into their latest set of loaded questions.

It will be interesting to see if, given long enough, they'll learn anything from participating in a wetware simulation of their favorite topic.

I run into this same problem with the 6-day creationists all the time...

/lol .. that got my day off to a good start

gamesterinns wrote:

In terms of what was quoted, I think if the person in question didn't mean to say that genes can modify themselves, then he should have stayed a long way away from using the terminology he did, especially considering how loaded it is these days. This kind of thing is a problem for those of us looking at evolution from the outside in - biologists do tend to be very casual at times when discussing evolutionary processes, attributing almost intelligent qualities to what is essentially a blind process. I understand they don't want to lose their audience by breaking down into "science speak" all the time, but it would be helpful if they could find other metaphors.

It's quite easy to fall into that way of writing/speaking about evolution. It's not as crazy as it seems (see below), but of course it's not appropriate in an evolution/creation debate.

One factor in that terminology is that while the low-level changes are random events evolution is caused by random mutations (for example, as maxo-texas mentioned above that human individuals have an have an average of 60 mutations every generation), the selection process ("survival of the fittest") clearly isn't random.

Note that random mutations aren't the only low-level mechanism. Here's another:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horizontal_gene_transfer

So, science has proven (yes, really the existence of agents for change, principles for selection, and mechanisms for the development of new specials. Given those, you look at evolution as a broad process, and note that there are genes that are present many different species, and genes which outlast the species in which they developed.

The "sodium channel in cells" is an example of something that's very widely spread across different species with only a small amount of variation. Why? To quote your OP, which quotes an evolutionary biologist:
Quote:
this striking convergence on a few evolutionary outcomes probably occurs because sodium channels play such a critical role in cells

So if something important is done the same way in e.g. all Eukaryotic cells (the "building blocks" of all "plants, animals, fungi, slime moulds, protozoa, and algae), clearly a change which "breaks it" is likely to kill the cell and/or the organism (remember lots of cells die without killing the organism they are part of),and therefore there are strong constraints on what changes are possible.

So now we have genes, cells, and organisms, all changing over time, and the changes are related, but not exactly synchronized with each other.

It's hard to find a terminology which is both convenient for evolutionary biologists, unambiguous for the general public, especially creationists.


Hopefully you can see why the professionals use terminology like this (the sentence following thew one above in your quote in the OP):
Quote:
"There are very few options for a gene to modify itself to develop resistance without impairing function,"
IIRC it was an article in New Scientist too, so he can assume people will look up any potentially ambiguous terms.

He was never trying to say there's a supernatural force involved in the evolutionary process. Just trying to distinguish between what's happening at the different levels: genes, cells, and organisms, without writing this much text to do so
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Vapix wrote:
It's hard to find a terminology which is both convenient for evolutionary biologists, unambiguous for the general public, especially creationists.


Hopefully you can see why the professionals use terminology like this (the sentence following thew one above in your quote in the OP):
Quote:
"There are very few options for a gene to modify itself to develop resistance without impairing function,"
IIRC it was an article in New Scientist too, so he can assume people will look up any potentially ambiguous terms.

He was never trying to say there's a supernatural force involved in the evolutionary process. Just trying to distinguish between what's happening at the different levels: genes, cells, and organisms, without writing this much text to do so


I can assure you, I certainly did not think he was trying to say there was a supernatural force involved, and I should say I don't believe that's what the Third Way people are trying to say, either. What it instead sounded like to me was he was admitting the possibility the gene could somehow direct itself to be rewritten(?), which is an attribute that Natural Genetic Engineering, as I understand it, would encompass - I kind of assumed that's what he was referring to, hence my opening question.

If he did not mean to refer to natural genetic engineering, then I assumed he would have said something like, "There would be very few opportunities for a gene to have become modified in order to develop resistance without impairing function", which sounds more like what you are describing and much less Third Way, so I had to wonder why he said it the way he did. It seems it's a tricky business for researchers right now, because no one wants to be ostracized for straying too far from the page, yet they still want to introduce new ideas based on their observations, so I think sometimes a little "doublespeak" becomes the preferred option - not because they're being deceptive, but more to satisfy their own desire to be as honest as possible.
 
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gamesterinns wrote:
I can assure you, I certainly did not think he was trying to say there was a supernatural force involved, and I should say I don't believe that's what the Third Way people are trying to say, either. What it instead sounded like to me was he was admitting the possibility the gene could somehow direct itself to be rewritten(?), which is an attribute that Natural Genetic Engineering, as I understand it, would encompass - I kind of assumed that's what he was referring to, hence my opening question.
[...]

IMO "Natural Genetic Engineering" is poisoned terminology because of this kind of interpretation, which is essentially equivocation.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equivocation

In effect you are requiring scientists to forego their preferred technical language for less convenient and less precise ways of expressing themselves because you've identified alternative ways to interpret the words and phrases they use.

I know it would be more convenient for you if the professionals changed their terminology, but that would clearly be a win/lose result for them.

It's much more reasonable for non-technical people who read technical material to look up the meanings of words that aren't clear in context. A simple rule: reach for a reference work if you see anything that suggests a serious scientist is describing unknown mechanisms as though they are unknowable (e.g. is they leave out the usual "we need to run some experiments to figure this out").

FWIW if they made that kind of mistake in a academic journal (which New Scientist is not) you could definitely criticize them for not specifically mentioned any effects for which the mechanism is unknown. This is rare though - unknown mechanisms are what scientists use to justify their next research grant, and they are very good at identifying and describing them
 
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I would recommend Renfrew and Bahn. I expect any archaeology student would have a copy or borrow it. I can't believe any university library wouldn't have a copy or three.

I think reading the origin of species is an odd way to learn about evolution. Victorian prose is quite hard work and more modern books put evolution over much more clearly.
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andyl wrote:
DavidDearlove wrote:
I have recommend archaeology books for dating


But they didn't help me find a long term partner or even get laid.


Natural selection at work. Book functioning as intended.
 
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@gamesterinns

A couple of things for you to read:

Point 3 of the criticisms of "Natural Genetic Engineering":
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_genetic_engineering#Cr...
Simplified: There is nothing exceptional about an evolved process for speeding up evolution and/or increasing its efficiency by allowing for exchange of genetic material between organisms. Neither case justifies such a misleading name.

Here you can find some examples of known mechanisms for exchanging generic material between organisms (bacteria). The third, "Transformation", is described here as "clearly a bacterial adaptation for DNA transfer".
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacteria#DNA_transfer
The final paragraph of this section of the article connects back to the link I provided above, to the article on "Horizontal gene transfer".
 
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