“But that’s not how science works.”
From his blog Pharyngula,
Larry Moran is attending — not as a representative of the crackpot contingent, but, I suspect, to cast a cynical eye on the shenanigans. The Third Way of Evolution gang seems to be excited about the meeting, which is not a good sign — these are people who have taken some useful ideas in evolutionary theory, like epigenetics and niche construction, and turned the dial up to 11 to argue that these concepts are so revolutionary that they demand a complete upheaval of neo-Darwinian thinking.
Many evidence-based concepts do demand it, actually.
What’s changed is this: Darwinism (natural selection acting on random mutation) was once a default explanation of change in life forms over time. Now it competes with a variety of evidence-based explanations. The question is, which one or combination best explains the pattern we see in a given case?
From a lay perspective, it is somewhat like this: We grew up with Big Phone, Inc.’s monopoly on communications (cross them, and your best bet is smoke signals on a windless hill).
Then we moved, and found ourselves in a region where five different phone companies’ signals are carried through the wires and towers. So which one is best for a given situation? We must think about that.
Meanwhile, Big Phone is shrieking from the sidelines that all this chaos is a disaster. Mainly, it appears, for Big Phone. Most communicators have never been more connected than now, for better or worse. But back to Myers:
… And, unfortunately, I’ve just learned that the Queen of Hyperbolic Revolutionary Evolution, Susan Mazur, Journalistic Flibbertigibbent, is all wound up about it, which is also not a good sign. She’s raving about Paradigm-Shifters who will come up with a replacement for the modern synthesis.
The correct term and pronunciation is “flibbertigibbet,” Dr. Myers.
Flibbertigibbets like Mazur are what happens to people who are tone deaf.
As we mentioned in connection with University of Toronto’s Larry Moran a couple months back,
Moran also misses the point about interviewer Suzan Mazur, of whom he says dismissive things. When journalists who publish in key venues become interested in an otherwise obscure train wreck, we can reasonably suspect that a shift is taking place. That’s why we call it “news” and not “olds.”
Myers also shares this insight:
Mazur clearly has no idea at all how science works. Twenty people attending a meeting don’t get to suddenly declare that a theory is replaced, and I don’t care who they are. More.
Yes, maybe twenty is too many. Even one person can replace a big theory, even some guy standing at an obscure lectern in a patent office in Switzerland in the early 1900s…
But we will assume that the organizers are correct in thinking that twenty is a reasonable number in this case.
See also: So who’s in and who’s out at Royal Society 2016 “rethink evolution” meet?
Progressive Review hopes for post-Darwinian science “But Darwin clearly didn’t have all the answers, and science has moved many miles since his time.”
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