The "Random Mutation Generator" was an application once available on the Internet as a supposed means of disproving evolution. The essential idea of the thing was a space into which one could type words in a sentence, after which the clicking of a button would make a "random mutation," a change to the sentence. The author of the site especially invited users to type in a sentence like "the fox was brown," and then see if they could randomly "mutate" this into the sentence "the fox was "black" -- which, that author claimed, ought to be an easy enough task, only four letters needing to be changed. But, since each click would inevitably take the user further from that sentence (or any coherent sentence) -- to something like, "the frx wa8 bqown," the site's creator would triumphantly decree, so would the mutations claimed by scientists to propel evolution.

So I set out to test this claimed proof against evolution. Well, it happens that I have a friend named Lloyd. Lloyd's old man is (or was, at least, when he was Lloyd's age) six feet, two inches (which equals seventy-four inches). Lloyd is slightly taller -- six feet, three inches (which equals seventy-five inches) -- and indeed is the tallest person of record in his family, on either side.

So in order to do an initial validity test of the machine, a tune-up to make sure it worked in a known-to-be-true case, I simply sought to change the following sentence:
Lloyd's father is seventy-four inches tall; Lloyd is seventy-four inches tall.
To the following, which accurately reflects the disparity reflected in Lloyd's actual height:
Lloyd's father is seventy-four inches tall; Lloyd is seventy-five inches tall.
Naturally, Lloyd was not 'bred' for height, his parents did not aim to have a tall son, they did not discard the runts and keep reproducing until they got one, nor did his parents engage in any sort of genetic tinkering designed to dictate the height of their offspring. (Lloyd is, in point of fact, their only son; they have a daughter as well, who is quite small.) The proposed "mutation" here only requires the change of three letters in the entire sequence; from 'four' to 'five' which simply accurately reflects the height to which Lloyd actually grew.

So, in I put that, and though I tried and tried and tried again, I couldn't get the machine to give me anything other than gibberish. It couldn't accomplish a clearly valid change, making it somewhat laughable to suppose that its inability to effect a change claimed to be invalid could be claimed to prove the impossibility of such a change. The failing of the program, naturally, is in its attempt to equate the vocabulary and grammar of sentences with the strings of molecules which make up genes, and especially with the use of thirty-six characters (all the letters plus all the numerals as compared to the four fundamental pairs of molecules which are rearranged in myriad ways to create the whole of the tapestry of life on Earth.


The Random Mutation Generator, when it existed, could be found at Sadly, it is no more; the really sad part being that the website didn't live long enough for me to ask its creator why I couldn't bring about the simple (and true) change as set forth in my test sentence.



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