From Andrew Masterson at Cosmos:
In 1972 the eminent palaeontologist Stephen Jay Gould and his colleague Niles Eldredge proposed an idea about the way evolution worked and, in so doing, sparked a fight of almighty proportions.
No, it was not really an “almighty” row. It was a vulgar, vicious row between tenured Darwinists and an early group of evidence-seekers who were soon whipped into shape to support the party line.
New modelling revealed by Michael Landis and Joshua Schraiber of Temple University in Pennsylvania, US, however, adds considerable extra weight to their case.
They had better watch their step if they want to remain employed.
Gould and Eldredge sought to explain so-called gaps in the palaeontological record – missing fossils assumed to represent transitional phases between ancient species and the modern ones into which they evolved – by suggesting they were an illusion.
Evolution, they proposed, wasn’t a gradual process, marked by the slow accumulation of new characteristics. Rather, they said, “the history of evolution is not one of stately unfolding, but a story of homeostatic equilibria, disturbed only ‘rarely’ … by rapid and episodic events of speciation.” More.
None of this makes any sense, of course: How can things that cannot be demonstrated by slow methodical means happen to be demonstrated by rapid, non-methodical ones?
The ensuing pre-cocktails controversy is elite tennis without menace. We are told,
The reactions of professors Dawkins and Dennett remain unknown, but might be memorable.
Nope. Why should Dawkins and Dennett care? They are entrenched. The real story is elsewhere and in any event the guns are facing the wrong way…
See also: Journal Nature: Stuck with a battle it dare not fight, even for the soul of science