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Evolution must evolve, New Scientist insists

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From New Scientist:

… That brings to the fore areas that are not part of the canon of evolutionary theory: epigenetics, for example, which studies how organisms are affected by changes in the ways in which genes are expressed, rather than in the genes themselves.

Attempts to incorporate such elements into evolutionary theory have not always been welcomed, however. That is understandable, given how successful the theory has been without them. Occam’s razor applies: do not add complications unless they are absolutely necessary.

But another motivating factor is undoubtedly the fear that if scientists themselves are seen to suggest that even small details of the theory of evolution could be improved upon, its detractors will seize upon them with avidity. This is a well-founded fear: it happens all the time, with well-funded and highly visible front organisations distorting scientific discussion to create the false impression of disagreement about the basics of evolutionary theory.

It is a fear scientists need to overcome, lest the admirable defence of truth mutates into defensiveness and rigidity. It is one thing to counter reactionaries who reject evolution; it is quite another to be dismissive of or even hostile to scientists who have new ideas to offer. More.

So the editorial team at New Scientist indirectly admits it has been “dismissive of or even hostile to scientists who have new ideas to offer.” Fetch camera truck.

This is a long way from Richard Dawkins’ once-proud boast that (p. 287, Blind Watchmaker, 1986):

My argument will be that Darwinism is the only known theory that is in principle capable of explaining certain aspects of life. If I am right it means that, even if there were no actual evidence in favour of the Darwinian theory (there is, of course) we should still be justified in preferring it over all rival theories.

And all New Scientist said amen. Heck, Darwin’s theory, as it was then, was even going to save us from an attack of the Boltzmann brains!

Well, all things must end, the hangover sets in, and the spin begins.

This new tone could well be related to the upcoming rethinking evolution meet sponsored by the Royal Society in November.

See also: Kudos to Larry Moran for eventually getting it

and

Conclusions: What the fossils told us in their own words

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3 Replies to “Evolution must evolve, New Scientist insists

  1. 1
    Mapou says:

    Rather, evolutionists must evolve. I mean, Lawrence Krauss was looking rather Cro-Magnon-ish in that recent debate with Meyer. I was fearful that the would suddenly break out in unintelligible grunts at any moment. Or maybe even pounce on the moderator like a crazed troglodyte.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    OT:

    Why watching comb jellies poop has stunned evolutionary biologists By Amy Maxmen – Mar. 23, 2016
    Excerpt: several unprecedented videos of gelatinous sea creatures called comb jellies, or ctenophores, now threaten to upend the standard view of the evolution of the so-called through-gut. On 15 March, at the Ctenopolooza meeting in St. Augustine, Florida, evolutionary biologist William Browne of the University of Miami in Florida debuted films of comb jellies pooping—and it wasn’t through their mouths.
    Browne’s videos elicited gasps from the audience because comb jellies, whose lineage evolved long before other animals with through-guts, had been thought to eat and excrete through a single hole leading to a saclike gut. In 1880, the German zoologist Carl Chun suggested a pair of tiny pores opposite the comb jelly mouth might secrete some substance, but he also confirmed that the animals defecate through their mouths. In 1997, biologists again observed indigestible matter exiting the comb jelly mouth—not the mysterious pores.
    Browne, however, used a sophisticated video setup to continuously monitor two species that he keeps in captivity, ?Mnemiopsis leidyi and Pleurobrachia bachei. The movies he played at Ctenopolooza capture the creatures as they ingest tiny crustaceans and zebrafish genetically engineered to glow red with fluorescent protein. Because comb jellies are translucent, the prey can be seen as it circulates through a network of canals lacing the jellies’ bodies. Fast-forward, and 2 to 3 hours later, indigestible particles exit through the pores on the rear end. Browne also presented a close-up image of the pores, highlighting a ring of muscles surrounding each one. “This is a sphincterlike hole,” he told ?the audience.
    “Looks like I’ve been wrong for 30 years,” said George Matsumoto, a marine bio?logist
    http://www.sciencemag.org/news.....biologists

  3. 3
    bb says:

    ba77,

    The addition of a new evolution epicycle will begin in 5, 4, 3…

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