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
Conclusions: What the fossils told us in their own words
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