A friend notes that Doug Futuyma’s abstract for the upcoming Royal Society Public Evolution Summit is now available. Based on the predictable and disappointing verbiage, the friend fears that the meeting will fizzle:
Abstract: The evolutionary synthesis today: extend or amend?
Evolutionary theory has been extended almost continually since the Evolutionary Synthesis, but the principal tenets of the Synthesis have been strongly supported, the single most important exception being the greater importance accorded genetic drift, especially in molecular evolution. The calls for an extended synthesis today are largely a continuation of this process. Some elements of the EES movement, such as the role of niche construction, are welcome emphases on long recognised but perhaps under-studied processes. The union of population genetic theory with mechanistic understanding of molecular and developmental processes is a potentially productive conjunction of ultimate and proximal causation; but the latter does not replace or invalidate the former. Newly discovered molecular genetic phenomena have been easily accommodated by orthodox evolutionary theory in the past, and this appears to hold also for phenomena such as epigenetic inheritance today. In several of these areas, empirical evidence is needed to evaluate enthusiastic speculation. Evolutionary theory today will continue to be extended, but there is no sign that it requires emendation.
It’s actually worse than the friend fears. If the Royal Society cannot have a serious meeting without being warned by US textbook bigs not to mess with their royalties for promoting the status quo, then the Royal Society has a way bigger problem than evolution.
See also: What to expect from the Royal Society’s Public Evolution Summit
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