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Steven Mading's Avatar Jump to comment 21 by Steven Mading

I don't understand the implication that "accident" means "random". No. It doesn't. It just means "not deliberate". Take, for example, the concept which is so synonymous with "accident" that it actually uses the word "accident" to describe it: Two automobiles crashing into each other. That's not random. There are deterministic causes of the event. It's just that none of them were on purpose - neither driver meant for it to happen.

In that sense, "accident" is exactly the right word to describe evolution. It doesn't mean it's random, in exactly the same way that a car accident isn't random, or a heart attack isn't random. "Has a deterministic cause" does not mean "is disqualified from being called an accident".

In fact, the vast majority of the things we call "accidents" are in fact non-random and do have deterministic causes.

When someone complains loudly that "Evolution isn't an accident, dammit" that does not show that they understand evolution so much as it shows that they DON'T understand the word "accident". "Accidental" is the antonym of "deliberate", not the antonym of "deterministic".

Wed, 20 Jan 2010 19:36:00 UTC | #433502