Sunday, 7 July 2013

The scale of the modern evolution revolutions

The scientific revolutions represented by universal Darwinism and cultural evolution are the biggest scientific revolutions I've ever seen.

For a while I've been interested in comparing these modern revolutions in Darwinism with other historical scientific revolutions.

There's been enormous progress in computer science in my lifetime, but that hasn't really been much of a revolution, it's just been growth. Maybe the rise of complexity and chaos theory should be counted as a significant scientific revolution, though.

Symbiology represented a pretty large revolution within biology. However, overall, it seems relatively small - compared to universal Darwinism and cultural evolution.

Before that, the molecular revolution in the 1950s - as a result of work by Watson and Crick - had a big impact on biology. Again, that was more an expansion of knowledge than a paradigm shift.

Before that was the 1930s revolution that established NeoDarwinism as an 'improved' version of Darwin's theory.

The next biggest revolution in biology before that probably involved the rediscovery of Mendel's work, and then the one before that was the one Darwin's publications triggered.

There were also some pretty neat revolutions in physics around 100 years ago.

Of course, much depends on how you measure them, but Universal Darwinism and cultural evolution may well be the biggest scientific revolutions in the last 100 years. It's pretty amazing to see how the Darwinian revolution is still going on, 150 years down the line. That's got to be the longest-running scientific revolution ever.

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