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Has New Scientist returned abjectly to Darwin’s fold?


Seems they’ve put out a new book in the “Essential Guide” series, the Essential Guide to Evolution:

How do species arise and change? What part do genes and DNA play? Where is evolution heading?

Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection is arguably the most important scientific idea ever – radical in its simplicity, yet infinitely complex in its implications for life and its workings. Understand its full richness in this sixth New Scientist Essential Guide, with themes including …

The thing is, last year (was it only last year?), New Scientist published a thirteen-part serious that would make you think they’d sworn off all that Darwin stuff. Maybe readers missed it too much. Or they need to reassure readers that nothing has changed… Or they just couldn’t live without the old Brit toff? Huh? You tell us …

Anyway, here are some links to our notes on last year’s series:

(Reformed) New Scientist 13: We can stop evolution New Scientist: “Today, evolution remains one of the most powerful ideas in science but, as with all good ideas, it is evolving ” Sure, but if evolution is evolving, Darwinism is dead. Which is fine with us. It’s a big world out there. Making everything sound like Darwin said it is not the way to explore that world.

(Reformed) New Scientist 12: Evolution favors some outcomes, not others. So “Each lake contains many different species that show striking similarities in the variety of body shapes to species in the other lake, despite being more closely related to those living in their own lake” but “These body shapes adapt species to particular niches or diets, so must have evolved by natural selection.” But wait! The traditional argument for natural selection acting on random mutations (Darwinism) was that the species WOULD BE similar to more closely related species. If they’re not, …

(Reformed) New Scientist 11: On life forms evolving without changing genes. This just in: The Selfish Gene has left the building in tears. They shouldn’t even have been discussing this.

(Reformed) New Scientist 10: They take horizontal gene transfer seriously now. At New Scientist: “‘Yeast and bacteria have fundamentally different ways of turning DNA into protein, and this seemed like a really, really strange phenomenon,’ he says.” They ain’t seen nothing yet. If you subtract the “random mutation” from “natural selection,” what’s left of Darwinism? By the time the Raging Woke hammer down Darwin’s statue, chances are the New Scientist crowd will have forgotten who the old Brit toff even was. Shrug.

(Reformed) New Scientist 9: Survival of the Luckiest At New Scientist: “But evolution can also occur through a non-adaptive process called genetic drift, whereby a gene may become dominant in a population purely by chance… ‘Genetic drift can definitely be a significant driver of evolution,’ says Miles.”

(Reformed) New Scientist 8: Evolution can happen very quickly. Does anyone remember Darwin’s claim: “It may be said that natural selection is daily and hourly scrutinizing, throughout the world, every variation, even the slightest; rejecting that which is bad, preserving and adding up all that is good; silently and insensibly working, wherever and whenever opportunity offers, at the improvement of each organic being in relation to its organic and inorganic conditions of life.” Yes, that “daily, hourly” thing seems quaint to us too. It probably even seems quaint over at New Scientist, given the stuff they’re saying now.

(Reformed) New Scientist 7: Niche construction can shape evolution. To say that “Traditionally, biologists thought of niche construction purely as a consequence of natural selection. However, that argument doesnʼt always work” is to say that neoDarwinism is not THE theory of evolution. Just in: Richard Dawkins has left the building. And New Scientist has become a more interesting publication.

(Reformed) New Scientist 6: Lamarck is out of the doghouse! At New Scientist: “Today, there is evidence of Lamarckian evolution – of a sort… ‘It reorients how we think about the adaptive process,’ he says.”

(Reformed) New Scientist 5: Species don’t really EXIST? Then what was On the Origin of Species about? Never mind.

(Reformed) New Scientist 4: There is more to inheritance than just genes. At New Scientist: “Subsequent studies in plants and animals suggest that epigenetic inheritance is more common than anyone had expected. Whatʼs more, compared with genetic inheritance, it has some big advantages. Environments can change rapidly and dramatically, but genetic mutations are random, so often require generations to take hold.” Just think, within a few years, genetics might start to make some sense. You’ve got to hand it to the New Scientist gang; when they rethink, they really do.

(Reformed) New Scientist 3: The selfish gene is no longer cool. At New Scientist: “Some researchers think the solution lies in an idea called cultural group selection. Forget shared genes, they argue: selection can favour cooperative groups if the people within them share enough culture. ” Darwin has left the building and returned to his estate.

(Reformed) New Scientist 2: Evolution shows intelligence. At New Scientist: “‘Maybe, evolution is less about out competing others and more to do with co-creating knowledge,’ says Watson.” That really is a radical idea. Radical yes, but it really is a good idea. We find it hard to improve on. The only thing we can think of is, keep the “intelligent” part in your description of nature and add “design.”

(Reformed) New Scientist 1 on the genome: Not destiny. Sure but then what about the famous twin studies that were supposed to prove so much about human nature? No? Then it’s probably best for the New Scientists to just get out of the “gene for that” hell while they can.


At New Scientist: We must rethink the (Darwinian) theory of nature. If by “our greatest theory of nature,” the writers mean textbook Darwinism, well the new concepts they list are destroying it. What becomes of “natural selection acting on random mutation” if a variety of means of evolution are “natural,” mutations are not necessarily random, genes aren’t selfish and don’t come only from parents, and the fittest don’t necessarily survive? Just for a start…

For New Scientist it looks like old habits are hard to break. Fasteddious
I think we can be confident that nobody has been able to honestly and clearly reconcile the findings from those 13 stories (from just one year!) into the claims of evolutionary theory. Contradictory and unexpected findings in nature arise and instead of the theory being questioned and challenged, it continues to be claimed as if it is valid, consistent and predictive. They're fitting the facts to the theory. Every once in a while, someone discovers this fraud and the person starts ranting and yelling about it, because it seems like it must be just that people haven't heard about what happened. But then they realize, no. The very researchers who discover the "surprising" and contradictory results are the ones assuring us that the theory remains the greatest scientific discovery ever. Thanks, News for putting this report together. It's a very worthwhile summary -- the witty commentary is a lively and devastating bonus. . Silver Asiatic
Even by secular standards evolution isn't important. The force/flow/friction laws, Newton and Ohm and Carnot, are much more important to real users of real science. You can't work with mechanical and electrical things unless you understand and use those laws qualitatively and quantitatively ALL THE TIME. You can work with biology and medicine for an entire career without thinking about evolution vs creation. The question is simply irrelevant. polistra

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