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Kevin Laland et al’s Rethinking Evolution paper

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Last night we noted that even New Scientist now seems to accept that it’s time to rethink how evolution works.

The author of the New Scientist article is St. Andrews’ Kevin Laland, whose 2015 paper (with colleagues) is here (public access):

Scientific activities take place within the structured sets of ideas and assumptions that define a field and its practices. The conceptual framework of evolutionary biology emerged with the Modern Synthesis in the early twentieth century and has since expanded into a highly successful research program to explore the processes of diversification and adaptation. Nonetheless, the ability of that framework satisfactorily to accommodate the rapid advances in developmental biology, genomics and ecology has been questioned. We review some of these arguments, focusing on literatures (evo-devo, developmental plasticity, inclusive inheritance and niche construction) whose implications for evolution can be interpreted in two ways—one that preserves the internal structure of contemporary evolutionary theory and one that points towards an alternative conceptual framework. The latter, which we label the ‘extended evolutionary synthesis’ (EES), retains the fundaments of evolutionary theory, but differs in its emphasis on the role of constructive processes in development and evolution, and reciprocal portrayals of causation. In the EES, developmental processes, operating through developmental bias, inclusive inheritance and niche construction, share responsibility for the direction and rate of evolution, the origin of character variation and organism–environment complementarity. We spell out the structure, core assumptions and novel predictions of the EES, and show how it can be deployed to stimulate and advance research in those fields that study or use evolutionary biology. – The extended evolutionary synthesis: its structure, assumptions and predictions Kevin N. Laland, Tobias Uller, Marcus W. Feldman, Kim Sterelny, Gerd B. Müller, Armin Moczek, Eva Jablonka, John Odling-Smee Published 5 August 2015.DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.1019

Laland’s turned up in our files a few times in recent years:

The Templeton Foundation liks his brand a lot

The Selfish Gene, dying, yet lives (but not, apparently, at Laland’s pad).

So who’s in and who’s out at Royal Society 2016 “rethink evolution” meet? By all accounts, Laland would seem to be in.

We’ll watch the file grow.

New call for an Extended Evolutionary Synthesis

See also: Even New Scientist thinks it is time for evolution theory to evolve?

and

How will rethinking evolution affect the ID community?

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18 Replies to “Kevin Laland et al’s Rethinking Evolution paper

  1. 1
    Dionisio says:

    English is not my first language, but perhaps it’s the first language of most authors in this blog UD.
    Can someone help me to clarify this? Thanks in advance.

    The professor named in the current OP has the following page within his university website:

    Research overview

    My principle academic interests are in the general area of animal behaviour and evolution, with a specific focus on animal social learning, cultural evolution and niche construction. I am engaged in empirical studies of animal social learning and innovation, including experimental work with fish, birds, non-human primates and humans. This laboratory work is complemented by theoretical investigations of the role of niche construction in evolution, the diffusion dynamics of learned behaviour and the co-evolution of genes and culture throughout human evolution.

    https://risweb.st-andrews.ac.uk/portal/en/persons/kevin-neville-laland(4ae352f3-32ca-418e-9d07-9b8ee17e6183).html

    What does the word ‘principle’ at the start of the above quoted text mean?

    prin·ci·ple.
    [?prins?p?l]
    NOUN
    1.a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning:
    “the basic principles of Christianity”
    synonyms: truth · proposition · concept · idea · theory · assumption ·
    2.a fundamental source or basis of something:
    “the first principle of all things was water”
    Powered by Oxford Dictionaries · © Oxford University Press · Translation by Bing Translator

    The word “principle’ is a noun, but in the above quoted text it seems used as an adjective, doesn’t it?

    Shouldn’t the word ‘principal’ have been used instead of ‘principle’ in the given case?

    http://www.merriam-webster.com...../principal

    Did I understand this right?

  2. 2

    Darwin’s 1859 theory has always been based on speculation and wishful thinking, not empirical science. The upcoming “rethink” will be a continuation of the fraud with a focus on how to package it differently.

    Like every con game, once the con is exposed the con-artist rephrases the language and repackages the message so as to continue the fraud. Richard Dawkins and his devoted followers, con artists all, will do the same.

    The good news for the rest of us is that we have heroes such as Douglas Axe and Stephen Meyer, just to name a few, who stand strong and vigilant against the massive fraud known as Darwinian evolution.

  3. 3
    News says:

    In fairness to Laland and many others, Dionisio, they are not Darwinbots. They really want to do science rather than repeat the stale platitudes of the Master. Let’s give them all the support we can.

    Eventually, they will realize that it is not possible to make science sense of life without incorporating a science-based theory of information that is consistent with theories of matter and energy. But they must realize that for themselves. It’s their homework, not ours.

  4. 4
    johnnyb says:

    By the way, Wikipedia actually has a pretty good article on the Extended Synthesis.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    Dionisio

    My principle academic interests

    can be read as

    My main academic interests

  6. 6
    gpuccio says:

    Dionisio:

    Maybe bad grammar and bad thinking go sometimes hand in hand?

    Neo-neo-darwinism is not news. Its characteristic blending of new age imagination, timid and superficial criticism of traditional neo darwinism and arrogant and vague pseudo-biological philosophy has contributed practically nothing serious to the debate.

    The abstract:

    Scientific activities take place within the structured sets of ideas and assumptions that define a field and its practices. The conceptual framework of evolutionary biology emerged with the Modern Synthesis in the early twentieth century and has since expanded into a highly successful research program to explore the processes of diversification and adaptation. Nonetheless, the ability of that framework satisfactorily to accommodate the rapid advances in developmental biology, genomics and ecology has been questioned. We review some of these arguments, focusing on literatures (evo-devo, developmental plasticity, inclusive inheritance and niche construction) whose implications for evolution can be interpreted in two ways—one that preserves the internal structure of contemporary evolutionary theory and one that points towards an alternative conceptual framework. The latter, which we label the ‘extended evolutionary synthesis’ (EES), retains the fundaments of evolutionary theory, but differs in its emphasis on the role of constructive processes in development and evolution, and reciprocal portrayals of causation. In the EES, developmental processes, operating through developmental bias, inclusive inheritance and niche construction, share responsibility for the direction and rate of evolution, the origin of character variation and organism–environment complementarity. We spell out the structure, core assumptions and novel predictions of the EES, and show how it can be deployed to stimulate and advance research in those fields that study or use evolutionary biology.

    Emphasis mine.

    Two ways?!! Of course, design is not an option.

    And the second way?

    The only concept that is clear is that it “retains the fundaments of evolutionary theory”. Great!

    OK, but we learn of the existence of “constructive processes”, aka “developmental processes”.

    I have always been very clear about that kind of “thinking”: better, infinitely better, to deal with old dear Dawkins and his friends! 🙂

  7. 7
    gpuccio says:

    This is from the Wikipedia page:

    Proponents of Extended Evolutionary Synthesis state that there are many adaptation mechanisms, while most of biologist maintain that there is only one – natural selection.

    What about:

    “There is absolutely no mechanism, except design, that can explain complex functional information”?

    Not one, not many. None at all.

    And please, note the use of the “timid” word “adaptation”, instead of, say, “new original functionalities”, or “macroevolution” (or, least of all, “new original complex functional information”! 🙂 ).

    We can say many things about darwinists, old and new, but they certainly know how to cheat with words…

  8. 8
    Dionisio says:

    News @3:

    In fairness to Laland and many others, Dionisio, they are not Darwinbots. They really want to do science rather than repeat the stale platitudes of the Master. Let’s give them all the support we can.

    Did I say anything that implies denying them any support?

    I just asked simple English grammar/vocabulary questions.

    Are they that difficult to answer?

    Is anybody here from a country where English is the first language?

    I’m not, but thought some folks here were.

    Keep in mind the quoted text @1 was copied from a university website, not an email, or a Facebook timeline, or a twitter message, or an SMS, or a blog comment.

    Here’s the link again:
    https://risweb.st-andrews.ac.uk/portal/en/persons/kevin-neville-laland%284ae352f3-32ca-418e-9d07-9b8ee17e6183%29.html

  9. 9
    Dionisio says:

    BA77 @5:

    My principle academic interests
    can be read as
    My main academic interests

    Is that right?
    Are you sure that’s correct?

  10. 10
    Dionisio says:

    gpuccio @6-7:

    Good comments. Thank you.

  11. 11
  12. 12
    Dionisio says:

    News & BA77,
    You may want to look at the two links posted @11.
    That’s all I was trying to say.
    It’s a visible mistake in the website of a prestigious university.
    BTW, my wife and I were in St. Andrews, Scotland, last March and enjoyed walking in that interesting city, including the university campus where professor Laland works.
    I wouldn’t mind living in that city. Very friendly people.
    Next time I travel there will try to meet professor Laland personally and will tell him I heard about him first here in this site. 🙂

  13. 13
    bornagain77 says:

    Dionisio, I thought you were hung up on the meaning not the misspelling.

    That is a common misspelling.

  14. 14
    Dionisio says:

    BA77 @13:

    That is a common misspelling.

    Therefore it’s wrong, it’s a mistake, it’s an error.

    Is it acceptable for a university website to have an error in the permanent information about a distinguished science professor?

    BTW, as I said @8, I don’t understand what News wrote @3 in response to my simple questions @1. Do you?

  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    Well Dionisio, I think there are bigger fish to fry than misspellings. News was looking at the bigger picture.

  16. 16
    Dionisio says:

    BA77,

    Look at the fish!

    Ever heard of that story?

    Basically don’t forget the details.
    They are important too.

    BTW, the best comments focused on the OP topic were posted @6 & @7 by gpuccio. Those two posts fried the big fish and ate it all. 🙂

  17. 17
    bornagain77 says:

    I agree. Still it is fun to watch Nobel and others trash Neo-Darwinism for its failings.

    “Physiology Is Rocking the Foundations of Evolutionary Biology”: Another Peer-Reviewed Paper Takes Aim at Neo-Darwinism – Casey Luskin March 31, 2015
    Excerpt: Noble doesn’t mince words:
    “It is not only the standard 20th century views of molecular genetics that are in question. Evolutionary theory itself is already in a state of flux (Jablonka & Lamb, 2005; Noble, 2006, 2011; Beurton et al. 2008; Pigliucci & Muller, 2010; Gissis & Jablonka, 2011; Shapiro, 2011). In this article, I will show that all the central assumptions of the Modern Synthesis (often also called Neo-Darwinism) have been disproved.”
    Noble then recounts those assumptions: (1) that “genetic change is random,” (2) that “genetic change is gradual,” (3) that “following genetic change, natural selection leads to particular gene variants (alleles) increasing in frequency within the population,” and (4) that “inheritance of acquired characteristics is impossible.” He then cites examples that refute each of those assumptions,,,
    He then proposes a new and radical model of biology called the “Integrative Synthesis,” where genes don’t run the show and all parts of an organism — the genome, the cell, the body plan, everything — is integrated.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....94821.html

  18. 18
    Dionisio says:

    BA77:

    Still it is fun to watch Nobel and others trash Neo-Darwinism for its failings.

    Yes, definitely it’s quite an histrionic show.

    Also, it’s interesting to see how they are so desperate trying to answer numerous outstanding questions while newer interrogations appear. Perhaps that’s a consequence of their reductionist bottom-up research approaches, isn’t it?

    However, since the majority of the available papers follow that pattern, we have no other choice to read in science. Most discoveries are quite interesting, though not “surprising” as they keep saying. They undoubtedly confirm the intelligent source of the complex biological systems operated through beautifully orchestrated functional specified information. 🙂

    For example, in cases of hyponatremia, where the kidneys release more sodium than should, the cause could be associated with endocrine signals from thyroid or pituitary glands, which could be triggered by other factors.

    For example, let’s say the researchers try to describe the mechanisms underlying a medical problem where a kidney isn’t retaining sodium.
    However, no matter how accurate that description could get eventually, there’s an external issue left out: the endocrine signal that triggers the described nephrology issue. Furthermore, the given endocrine signal is associated with another mechanism related to the actual gland that issues such signals. And so on.

    Highlighting that unending search for answers is one aspect illustrated by the comments posted in the thread “Mystery at the heart of life.”
    It’s not any ‘gods of the gaps’ as some confused (or ill-intentioned?) folks seem to imply. It’s the God of the whole show, including true knowledge. Unending Revelation of the Ultimate Reality.

    We enjoy reading about every new discovery (assuming it’s legit).

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