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Did some prominent Darwinists retire recently?

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A new study seems to substantiate Max Planck’s quip that new paradigms arise when the supporters of the old ones die:

The famed quantum physicist Max Planck had an idiosyncratic view about what spurred scientific progress: death. That is, Planck thought, new concepts generally take hold after older scientists with entrenched ideas vanish from the discipline.

“A great scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it,” Planck once wrote.

Now a new study co-authored by MIT economist Pierre Azoulay, an expert on the dynamics of scientific research, concludes that Planck was right. In many areas of the life sciences, at least, the deaths of prominent researchers are often followed by a surge in highly cited research by newcomers to those fields.

Indeed, when star scientists die, their subfields see a subsequent 8.6 percent increase, on average, of articles by researchers who have not previously collaborated with those star scientists. Moreover, those papers published by the newcomers to these fields are much more likely to be influential and highly cited than other pieces of research.

“The conclusion of this paper is not that stars are bad,” says Azoulay, who has co-authored a new paper detailing the study’s findings. “It’s just that, once safely ensconsed at the top of their fields, maybe they tend to overstay their welcome.”

Peter Dizikes, “New science blooms after star researchers die, study finds” at MIT News Office

Paper. (open access)

Maybe that helps explain why it has become safer to doubt Darwin recently.

Darwinism IS a beautiful theory but then so is astrology The idea that natural selection acting on random mutation could fill the world with exquisitely complex life forms makes sense to fashionable intellectuals today and it doesn’t happen to be true

The Manhattan Contrarian on David Gelernter abandoning Darwinism. What would an urban sophisticate make of doubts about Darwinism? Once the enforcement trolls have been banished below stairs, hasn’t Darwinism become something people patter at cocktail parties, so that others know that they are bicoastal and just deplore! their privilege? Instead of being genuine deplorables who might doubt?

A recap to date (Meanwhile, other engaged brains have been getting restless too):

Brit commentator Melanie Phillips weighs in on David Gelernter dumping Darwin For many intellectuals, it must seem like an agonizing, nasty divorce but Phillips would be well placed to take it in stride.

Lay Catholics questioning Darwinism? It was interesting to see that, just recently, a California Catholic paper has started to smell the coffee at last and picked up on George Weigel’s article from First Things

At First Things, They Are Also Getting Over Darwinism

Another Think Tank Now Openly Questions Darwinism So Power Line is interviewing J. Scott Turner, author of Purpose and Desire: What Makes Something “Alive” and Why Modern Darwinism Has Failed to Explain It. He’s not an “ID guy” but that doesn’t matter. His book’s title tells you what you need to know. He understands that something is wrong. And his insights into insects’ hive mind are a piece in the puzzle.

Hoover Institution interview with David Berlinski

Mathematicians challenge Darwinian Evolution

The College Fix LISTENS TO David Gelernter on Darwin! It’s almost as though people are “getting it” that Darwinism now functions as an intolerant secular religion. Evolution rolls on oblivious but here and there heads are getting cracked, so to speak, over the differences between what really happens and what Darwinians insist must happen.

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3 Replies to “Did some prominent Darwinists retire recently?

  1. 1
    Axel says:

    Good question ! Good point ! It had never occurred to me.

  2. 2
    polistra says:

    Come to think of it, this phenomenon is Darwinian. One species has to die before others can occupy the niche. Darwinists oppose Darwinism when they create and enforce “endangered” “species” laws. Tenure is a lot like “endangered” “species” laws.

  3. 3
    EDTA says:

    >“The conclusion of this paper is not that stars are bad,” says Azoulay, who has co-authored a new paper detailing the study’s findings. “It’s just that, once safely ensconsed at the top of their fields, maybe they tend to overstay their welcome.”

    So in other words, it’s actually scientists who do the most to prevent scientific progress. A field is limited to one paradigm shift per generation at the most. Whodda thunk?

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