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Neo-Darwinism still alive and well?

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Well, that’s what the profs say:

The Modern Synthesis (or “Neo-Darwinism”), which arose out of the reconciliation of Darwin’s theory of natural selection and Mendel’s research on genetics, remains the foundation of evolutionary theory. However, since its inception, it has been a lightning rod for criticism, which has ranged from minor quibbles to complete dismissal. Among the most famous of the critics was Stephen Jay Gould, who, in 1980, proclaimed that the Modern Synthesis was “effectively dead.” Gould and others claimed that the action of natural selection on random mutations was insufficient on its own to explain patterns of macroevolutionary diversity and divergence, and that new processes were required to explain findings from the fossil record. In 1982, Charlesworth, Lande, and Slatkin published a response to this critique in Evolution, in which they argued that Neo-Darwinism was indeed sufficient to explain macroevolutionary patterns. In this Perspective for the 75th Anniversary of the Society for the Study of Evolution, we review Charlesworth et al. in its historical context and provide modern support for their arguments. We emphasize the importance of microevolutionary processes in the study of macroevolutionary patterns. Ultimately, we conclude that punctuated equilibrium did not represent a major revolution in evolutionary biology – although debate on this point stimulated significant research and furthered the field – and that Neo-Darwinism is alive and well.

The paper is open access.

So the growing uproar against ridiculous theories doesn’t mean anything?

Is that a consequence of tenure among established Darwinists?

11 Replies to “Neo-Darwinism still alive and well?

  1. 1
    doubter says:

    I don’t see how any technical bioevolutionary apologetics from the academic old guard (probably trying to protect their tenured security) can overcome the stark failure of any sort of Darwinian process to be able to achieve the massive macroevolutionary revolution of the Cambrian Explosion of complex mostly irreducibly complex animal body plans, in as little as 10 million years. Poor fossilization of precursors can’t be an excuse because many sedimentary beds have been discovered in the immediate Precambrian of the same types that preserved very many later Cambrian soft and hard -bodied forms. No excuse.

    Among many other invalidations of the conclusions of this new paper is the main conclusion of the 2016 Royal Society conference on the state of New Synthesis Darwinism, which was that the theory simply cannot account for macroevolution – and the premier example of macroevolution is the Cambrian Explosion.

  2. 2
    MikeW says:

    The best evidence presented in the article for the ability of Neo-Darwinism to explain macroevolution is as follows:

    “Many empirical studies have shown that there is a clear link between microevolutionary
    processes and resulting macroevolutionary patterns (e.g., Kane et al. 2011; Okamoto et al. 2015;
    Rolland et al. 2018; Costa et al. 2019). A classic example comes from Sewall Wright’s work on
    artificial selection in guinea pigs. All species in the family Caviidae have three toes on their back
    foot, but through artificial selection on slight variation between individuals Wright was able to
    breed laboratory populations with four toes…”

    After that section, I was laughing so hard that it was difficult to finish the article. But I was able to compose myself enough to finish it, and did confirm that that indeed was their best evidence. I now have direct first-hand experience to confirm that the arguments for Neo-Darwinism are indeed laughable.

  3. 3
    Querius says:

    Doubter and MikeW,

    Sad but true. One would expect new findings generally validating a theory and not resulting in repeated surprises that require Darwinism to be modified to accommodate new the new discoveries.

    For example, why are there “living fossils” that defy “blind” evolutionary change? The usual explanations usually contain words such as “coulda,” “mighta,” and (my personal favorite) “musta.”

    Also, usually referenced is an isolated population such as “musta” happened to the coelacanth in the Indian ocean. Darwinists also routinely assign these living fossils to a new classification since there’s no difference in phenotype and therefore all the change “musta” occurred in the genotype.

    -Q

  4. 4
  5. 5
    MikeW says:

    Zweston@4, Articles related to “percentage of matching DNA” or “percentage of unique DNA” are meaningless propaganda pieces. Up to 30% of any eukaryote genome is heterochromatin, which is tightly packed and generally not mappable. This includes the human genome. So the Human Genome Project’s so-called “mapping of the human genome”, and any report on “percentages of gene similarities” between species, always refer to the euchromatin portion of the genome, which can be mapped. Since a large portion of the genome isn’t mapped or understood, and since none of the other cellular codes (e.g. epigenetics, histone codes, sugar codes, etc.) are fully mapped or understood, any comparison percentages between species are meaningless.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heterochromatin

  6. 6
    zweston says:

    MikeW… this is new information to me, thanks for the reference! I just thought by reading the article at face value, it shows how Neanderthals, etc are all human…not the idiot cavemen I was taught growing up….

  7. 7
    Querius says:

    I read somewhere that humans and bananas share about 50% of their DNA. Haven’t confirmed this, though.

    -Q

  8. 8

    Humans share almost all of our DNA with cats, cattle and mice
    More than half of our genetic code is the same as a banana’s
    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/human-dna-share-cats-cattle-mice-same-genetics-code-a8292111.html
    90% cat
    88% mice
    84% dog
    80% cow

    also…humans share 24% of their genes with grapes, 24% with rice, 38% with roundworms and 44% with honey bees.

    As for the unmapped information, the last two segments of Jonathan Wells’ interview with Casey Luskin are available

    JONATHAN WELLS: BIOLOGICAL INFORMATION BEYOND DNA, PT. 3
    https://idthefuture.com/1471/
    part 4
    https://idthefuture.com/1474/

  9. 9
    Seversky says:

    I must say I have always felt myself to be closer to cats than bananas – much as I like bananas.

  10. 10
    ET says:

    DNA doesn’t determine biological form. So DNA similarities between phenotypically different species doesn’t point to evolutionary relationships.

  11. 11
    Bob O'H says:

    Sev @ 9 – in case it helps, you’re closer to brewer’s yeast than you are to bananas.

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