A reader offers an interesting quote from Denis Noble´s recent book on Karl Popper´s view of Darwinism ( Dance to the Tune of Life – Biological Relativity, page 199):
It is not widely known that Popper gave an important lecture to the Royal Society in 1986 entitled “A new interpretation of Darwinism”. It was given on the presence of Nobel laureates Sir Peter Medawar, Max Perutz and other figures, and it must have shocked his audience. He proposed a completely radical interpretation of Neo-Darwinism, essentially rejecting the Modern Synthesis by proposing that organisms themselves are the source of the creative processes of evolution, not random mutations in DNA. He said that Darwinism (but I am sure he meant Neo-Darwinism) was not so much wrong as seriously incomplete. He saw hat reverse transcription, which is the process that allows DNA segments to be transported from one region of the genome to another via an RNA intermediate, greatly weakens the Central Dogma. In particular, it weakens the dogma in justifying Neo-Darwinism theory since it changes the genome from the read-only idea of Neo-Darwinism to a read-write genome.
He was therefore deeply suspicious of sophisticated manoeuvrings and redefinitions to protect the dogma from falsification. In his “conjectures and refutations” view of science it is better to acknowledge when a strong version of a theory has been refuted. The strong Neo-Darwinist interpretation of the Central Dogma was refuted. But he went further than this. He saw that reverse transcription could be one of the routes through which Lamarckian processes and wholesale reorganisation of genomes could occur. Again, the philosopher in him wanted to see this recognised, not hidden behind a web of clever re-interpretations.””
Friend also notes that Noble goes on to say that Popper´s lecture also contained a second major criticism of Neo-darwinism based on the “Baldwin effect”. That is the fact that organisms can push evolution by choosing new niches and causing changes in their phenotypes without changing DNA. Phenotypic plasticity is another inconsistency of Neo-darwinism gene-centric view. (pp 222-223)
And that, according to Noble, Popper never published his lecture. It was locked for 35 years in the Popper archive in the USA. Fortunately it has now been released and published as part of the book: Niemann, Hans-Joachim: Karl Popper and the Two New Secrets of Life: Including Karl Popper’s Medawar Lecture 1986 and Three Related Texts Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2014. ISBN 978-3161532078.
Increasingly, one depends on these reticent or redacted sources of information to put together what really happened. It sounds as though Popper spent some time sheltering himself from the hellstorm of wounded pretensions that make up accepted current evolutionary biology and eventually realized that, like sociology, it is not really a science at present anyway. So why die on that hill? Hence the confusion around what Popper said. (He was fleeing the scene at the time.)
See also: Popper didn’t repent and believe Darwin after all
But Darwinism is universally accepted among “real” scientists! Um…
Another scholar who dismissed Darwinism – at the end of his life
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