Chapter 3 addresses the idea of randomness as a simplifying assumption, beginning with a discussion (using examples from phylogenetics) of the reasons that scientists employ simplifying assumptions that are known to be incorrect. That is, some ways of thinking about mutation may be useful, even if they are only approximately correct. Approximations come at a cost, and thus the practical use of an approximation, e.g., the assumption that mutation is uniform when it really is not, is a matter of weighing costs and benefits. The application of probabilistic reasoning to problems of mutation may be understood as an extension of logic that does not rely on any concept of “randomness.” In this context, references to “chance” or “randomness” as something that exists in the physical world, rather than in our minds, represent what E.T. Jaynes calls a “mind projection fallacy.”
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