Neutral evolution, intended to cover for the failures of Darwinian evolution (natural selection), is now being challenged by selectionists:
Selection isn’t in doubt, but many scientists have argued that most evolutionary changes appear at the level of the genome and are essentially random and neutral. Adaptive changes groomed by natural selection might indeed sculpt a fin into a primitive foot, they said, but those changes make only a small contribution to the evolutionary process, in which the composition of DNA varies most often without any real consequences.
But now some scientists are pushing back against this idea, known as neutral theory, saying that genomes show much more evidence of evolved adaptation than the theory would dictate. This debate is important because it affects our understanding of the mechanisms that generate biodiversity, our inferences about how the sizes of natural populations have changed over time and our ability to reconstruct the evolutionary history of species (including our own). What lies in the future might be a new era that draws from the best of neutral theory while also recognizing the real, empirically supported influence of selection.Viviane Callier, “Theorists Debate How ‘Neutral’ Evolution Really Is” at Quanta
Isn’t the real story more like this: Neutral drift will do some things for you. Natural selection (adaptation) will do some other things. But everyone realizes that none of it produces the staggeringly complex specified systems of life. And pretending that these systems are not staggeringly complex (“the brain is just a meat computer”) doesn’t work either.
So they are left with pieces of academic piffle orbiting granting bodies, ruffled by the occasional disappearance of people who inconveniently lay out the facts.
And so they circle round and round.
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See also: New findings challenge the “neutral” theory of evolution for 95% of human genome
Heads up! Neutral theory of evolution
Commenter nails the problem with neutral theory of evolution