Much of my life has been devoted to the history of population genetics. My early book was my Ph.D. thesis still in print: The Origins of Theoretical Populations Genetics (1971, 2nd edition, 1991). I stated in the 2nd edition in the Afterword that “random genetic drift” was giving me pause, as does the evolutionary synthesis. My later book was Sewall Wright and Evolutionary Biology (1986) and is also still in print. Now I am writing this book against “random genetic drift,” invented by R. A. Fisher and followed by Sewall Wright and J. B. S. Haldane. “Random genetic drift” is the core of population genetics. Any person who believes in “random genetic drift” should read this book.
It’s not clear how many people have read the book; there are no reviews at Amazon.com.
According to the Berkeley evolution site,
In each generation, some individuals may, just by chance, leave behind a few more descendents (and genes, of course!) than other individuals. The genes of the next generation will be the genes of the “lucky” individuals, not necessarily the healthier or “better” individuals.
It’s also unclear to an onlooker why random genetic drift would not be a demonstrable fact rather than a fallacy. A sinkhole in a rainforest might obliterate an otherwise viable species except for a few outliers who had wandered away from the species’ half acre, no?
So whatever they are like and whatever they beget is the new normal for that species, for better or worse.
But actually, anyone who “believes in” any claims about evolution needs help soon.
Evolution isn’t the sort of topic amenable to “belief,” only to the demonstration of evidence-based claims. When it becomes a form of belief, it becomes a religion. And we see so much of that among “sciencey-minded” people today.
Incidentally, Provine and a colleague did a study a while ago showing that evolutionary biologists are a highly diverse community where 78% are pure naturalist atheists.
Here is a defense of genetic drift in evolution by Michael Lynch. Readers?
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