In an attempt to frustrate rethinking evolution.
Six months after announcing the November 2016 Royal Society evolution meeting on this page and a half dozen or so stories later, over one-third of the seats for the event still remain vacant — and the tickets are free! But that’s easily explained, because the zoologists ultimately decided to “hog” the show.
It didn’t have to be so. A lineup of speakers who truly represent the paradigm shift underway in evolution science would have quickly filled up the house. Instead, organizers went with essentially an evo-devo reunion on plasticity and niche construction — rehashed themes of Altenberg! from eight years ago minus most of the stars of that conference. And they made sure to exclude, for instance, experts on viruses — the largest part of the biosphere — at a time when Zika continues to prove it can downsize the human brain in a flash and could have done the reverse at some point in evolutionary time. So how can the November proceedings possibly be considered a credible meeting on the latest “trends” in evolutionary science?
Aside from some of the organizers and Jim Shapiro and Doug Futuyma — there’s no big-name recognition. A number of prominent scientists I’ve spoken with who have not been asked to present but hope to get a word in edgewise have told me they nevertheless still plan to attend.
Other irritations are that the meeting is largely another Anglo-Amercian affair and there’s an absence of women who are stars in science, aside from Eva Jablonka and she’s considered somewhat at the conservative end of the discussion. More.
Yes, it’s a disappointment. I am not sure it is a defeat.
Frightened crats will soon discover is that it is much easier to unstuff the genie than to restuff it.
Just admitting that there is something wrong is disastrous for entrenched timeservers.
I remember back when I started this beat about 15 years ago. Royal Society would never have dreamed of admitting that anything was wrong. One guy (2008) got over-balconied just for trying to defend Darwinism (it was not then thought to need any defense). Even to suggest that it did was dangerously wrong.
Now they are dipping their tippy toes into the water. Eventually, they will need to take the plunge, but let’s keep the bath sheets, robes, hot drinks, and crying towels handy in the meantime.
See also: Royal Society announces guest list for Extended Synthesis meet
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