They are “deeply flawed,” say two researchers:
Two theorists have caused a stir in evolutionary circles, claiming to have proven that Darwinian phylogeny efforts (tree-building) cannot be constrained to one “best” answer. In fact, any proposed tree is no better than an infinity of other trees. They can’t see the tree for the forest. p1 The theorists are Stilianos Louca, biologist at the University of Oregon, and Matthew W. Pennell, evolutionary biologist at the University of British Columbia. Their paper that started the controversy was published in Nature, “Extant timetrees are consistent with a myriad of diversification histories.” A timetree is a phylogenetic tree supposedly calibrated by the appearance and disappearance of organisms. An extant timetree is a timetree calibrated using living organisms. The news from the University of Oregon, “Researchers find flaws in how scientists build trees of life,” sums up the paper’s thesis that “long-used approaches for reconstructing evolutionary paths are deeply flawed.”Evolution News, “Controversy Arising: Timetrees Unconstrained” at Evolution News and Science Today
The paper is paywalled.
We hope those people’s careers are safe.
The controversy arising about timetrees is something to think about when hearing confident-sounding presentations about the history and evolution of life. When scientists speak glibly about adaptive radiations, early bursts of diversification, global extinctions and all the rest, what do they really know? They weren’t there. They take bits of bone, molecules from eye of newt and bat wing, and conjure up fantastical scenarios of an evolving world of universal common ancestry driven onward and upward by natural selection alone. But if the model is just one of an infinite number of congruent timetrees held together by unrealistic adjustments, the world picture may never have existed except in the crystal ball of the imagination.Evolution News, “Controversy Arising: Timetrees Unconstrained” at Evolution News and Science Today
Well, sure, but is it safe to say that?
The article goes on to talk about refutations but so far it seems like a civilized discussion. That’s evidence that Darwinism is losing its chokehold on thought.