Friday, 13 December 2013

Defenders of neoDarwinism

The "modern synthesis" - though vague - was too specific and must now be considered to be toast.

However it still continues a zombie existence in the minds of some researchers. Here's Joe Feldstein:

the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis has been challenged by people who invoke epigenetics, phenomena of evo-devo, punctuationism, and a variety of other existent and nonexistent phenomena. the Synthesis has survived all these. It has turned out that some of these phenomena either do not exist (as in the case of neo-Lamarckian mechanisms). Other such as epigenetic mechanisms have little long-term effect. The rest can be considered to be examples of the workings of the mechanisms of mutation and selection, as in the case of evo-devo phenomena.
Here's Jerry Coyne:

I’m constantly puzzled these days by how often people argue that the neo-Darwinian synthesis is wrong, and that we need a new paradigm. Genetic assimilation, epigenetics, horizontal gene transfer—all of these buzzwords are evoked as reasons to jettison our “conventional” view of evolution. But always, when you look at the data, the evidence that these phenomena will overturn neo-Darwinism is nonexistent. I’ve already written a lot on the epigenetics hype, and have shown that there’s no evidence that a single adaptation in nature involves the fixation in the DNA of an epigenetic alteration of the genome that isn’t initially inherited. Yet people keep banging on about epigenetics. I’m not sure why the hype continues, but perhaps it has to do with the fact that the main paradigm of evolution—the neo-Darwinian synthesis-is largely consolidated, and is correct. Sure, there are surprises to come, and interesting new phenomena, but there’s no “quantum mechanics” of evolution on the horizon.
The modern synthesis was missing symbiology and universal Darwinism. It was so vague that its possible to argue that these things have been - or could be - incorporated into it - but it seems better to say that we're now in a new world that the founders didn't see coming - rather than siding with those defending these outdated and misleading dogmas.

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