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New challenge to Darwinism? Further to “Scientists, shut up and …

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quit debating evolution—it’s bad for the Darwin lobby’s business if people discover that there is a real debate out there that is not about the Bible,”

this from Phys.org:

When you think about evolution, ‘survival of the fittest’ is probably one of the first things that comes into your head. However, new research from Oxford University finds that the ‘fittest’ may never arrive in the first place and so aren’t around to survive.

By modelling populations over long timescales, the study showed that the ‘fitness’ of their traits was not the most important determinant of success. Instead, the most genetically available mutations dominated the changes in traits. The researchers found that the ‘fittest’ simply did not have time to be found, or to fix in the population over evolutionary timescales.

OxSciBlog: How do your results challenge current popular theory?

Ard Louis: We are arguing that some biological traits may be found in nature not because they are fitter than other potential traits but simply because they are easier to find by evolution. Darwinian evolution proceeds in two steps. Firstly, there is variation: due to mutations, different members of a population may have differences in traits. Secondly, there is selection: if the variation in a trait allows an organism to have more viable offspring, to be ‘fitter’, then that trait will eventually come to dominate in the population. Traditional evolutionary theory focuses primarily on the work of natural selection. We are challenging this emphasis by claiming that strong biases in the rates at which traits can arrive through variation may direct evolution towards outcomes that are not simply the ‘fittest’. More.

It sounds like Louis is trying to conjure the rabbits from the hat with math around variation rather than with selection. It doesn’t work, of course, but it’s a change from the usual.

An inherent capacity of life for self-organization, an alternative to Darwinism which Louis lauds later in the interview, is merely assumed to be a cause of evolution (as is Darwinism). It is not a demonstrated cause, like horizontal gene transfer, which really happens.

Stopping debate will prevent news like HGT from getting out.

File under: Ard Louis is at it again 😉

File with:An open letter to Ard Louis

Hat tip: Philip Cunningham

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JGuy: I'm dating myself. Yes, I meant Fleeming Jenkin. Hard not to add an 's' to his last name. Jenkin's criticism of Darwin I think can be found on the internet. PaV
This is nothing new, it's just part of neo-darwinism. I can't count how many times a neo-Darwinist has told me evolution is about "survival of the most frequent mutations". Aren't they always going on about that? lifepsy
Pav Did you mean Fleeming Jenkin? I only find a Ferguson Jenkins - a famous baseball player. :P JGuy
If one looks at the chart they provide, it seems like a remarkable confirmation of exactly what Ferguson Jenkin used as a model for phenotypic variation. His model, of course, was a criticism of Darwin's theory, pointing out that as one proceeded outwards from some central point, fewer and fewer options are available. Darwin, in fact, changed the last edition of the "Origins" because of Jenkin's criticism. It troubled him. And, now, Jenkin is shown to be correct. Score: Darwinism--0; Limited Variation--1. As usual, Darwin is wrong. PaV
Why this continuing to fantasize about self-organisation? Nothing but animism, as the columnist at Nature so perceptively identified it. Axel
The survival of the whatever works or the survival of the whatever doesn't die. Just doesn't sound like a process that can actually do something. Joe

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