The reasons I think we are talking about replacement rather than extension are several. The first is that the exclusion of any form of acquired characteristics being inherited was a central feature of the modern synthesis. In other words, to exclude any form of inheritance that was non-Mendelian, that was Lamarckian-like, was an essential part of the modern synthesis. What we are now discovering is that there are mechanisms by which some acquired characteristics can be inherited, and inherited robustly. So it’s a bit odd to describe adding something like to the synthesis ( i.e., extending the synthesis). A more honest statement is that the synthesis needs to be replaced.
By “replacement” I don’t mean to say that the mechanism of random change followed by selection does not exist as a possible mechanism. But it becomes one mechanism amongst many others, and those mechanisms must interact. So my argument for saying this is a matter of replacement rather than extension is simply that it was adirect intention of those who formulated the modern synthesis to exclude the inheritance of acquired characteristics. (p. 25)
That’s why the fat’s in the fire and smoking hot. Darwinism (or whatever the term du jour is) has been a totalistic system, enforced as such. But the evidence today simply doesn’t support it.
Reading Mazur’s book, I was struck by two things:
The genuinely interesting nature of alternative evolution proposals contrasts sharply with the science media release where fairly dull researchers have come up with a casuistical explanation of how Darwinism can account for various phenomena. And one realizes that for those individuals, that is evolution. That is science. Science is about reaffirming and finding evidence for the teachings of the Great One. And deploring or attacking anyone who doubts his teachings, irrespective of the state of the evidence.
The new approach is not exclusive or totalistic. It does not behave, as Darwinism does, as a metaphysic. Among many assemblies of evidence, some will naturally prevail, as more persuasive than others. But for once, evidence exists to understand living things better rather than to understand Darwin better.
Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets. This’ll be fun.
See also: What to expect from the Royal Society’s public evolution summit November 7-9
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