Darwinism Evolution

PZ Myers on Royal Society “rethink evolution” meet

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“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.

The Paradigm Shifters: Overthrowing 'the Hegemony of the Culture of Darwin' 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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7 Replies to “PZ Myers on Royal Society “rethink evolution” meet

  1. 1
    Seqenenre says:

    Where is BA’77?

  2. 2
    J-Mac says:

    “Larry Moran is attending — not as a representative of the crackpot contingent, but, I suspect, to cast a cynical eye on the shenanigans.”

    Unlike PZ Myers or Coyne, Moran at least believes that Neo-Darwinism is dead, so he may find a listening ear there as long as he doesn’t insist on his on bs on junk DNA.

    How can Moran call his own view of evolutionary theory with his genetic drift bs? How about “The Forth Way” or The Fifth?

  3. 3
    Robert Byers says:

    The big point, recognized by evolutionists, is that ANOTHER movement is moving against old man darwin. They are not creationists but believe there is chance here to change paradigms and get rewarded as scientists like to be.
    they are making a effort and must smell evolutionism is on hard times.
    Probably because it doesn’t handle ID/YEC intellectually very well. not as they should if evolution was so established as factual by scientific investigation.
    Is everyone a evolutionist questionist NOW?
    Will kids writing essays about thee days and origin science be emphasizing DID’T THEY SEE IT COMING?
    Evolutionism was always a unlikely and extreme concept to explain the complexity of biology and the origin of biology from goo to you.
    It was crazy but you didn’t hear it from me.

  4. 4
    Dionisio says:

    Very refreshing OP in this thread.
    Excellent sense of humor skillfully embedded within a serious topic.
    Really enjoyed reading it. I’ve got to learn a few things from your writing style.
    Thank you.

  5. 5
    tjguy says:

    I’m glad PZ is clearly stating his beliefs here. He better be careful or he might find himself on the outside looking in as the train passes him by in the near future. If he’s lucky, he might be able to get someone to pull him on board as the caboose passes, but he won’t be able to claim he had anything to do with it. He will have to admit that he was all washed up.

  6. 6
    Virgil Cain says:

    If PZ thinks that neo-darwinian evolution is science then he has no idea how science works. And if PZ thinks that neo-darwinian evolution is a theory then he has no idea what a theory is.

  7. 7
    DonaldM says:

    PZ makes his living promoting neo-Darwinism as understood by the Darwinian establishment. If the paradigm were to shift, why, he’d have to get to work to bone up on a whole new way of explaining and looking at things. Far better to rant and rave about the paradigm shifters and protect the Darwinian dogma than admit the evidence of Nature might be pointing in a completely different direction. I wonder what good things PZ had to say about the Altenberg 16 gang!

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