These are curious times in science, as fact and reason appear less attractive every day to just the people one would expect to value them and people who might have been able to get away with tabloid news show more sense instead.
New Scientist seems to be back to their usual schtick. Their 13 reasons for questioning Darwinism were probably some kind of aberration.
It’s good news that they are thinking this way. If we’re going to vote money and legislation for environmental protection, we do need useful working classifications. Why waste time, money and energy “saving” a “species” that doesn’t really exist as a separate entity when some whole ecologies are critically endangered? And it doesn’t matter how we choose to classify the “species” within them. At least these are more constructive discussions to be involved in than attacking or defending Darwinism.
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.
Rob Sheldon: We have the data to improve our models and the much-attacked Greater Barrington declaration suggests that we should, since the DATA from Sweden show that lockdowns are neither necessary nor even helpful. But this author suggests that the models are perfect, and therefore the data must be rejected in the name of science, of course. He is displaying, even in his own scientific subfield, the same TRUST in science, that we disparaged in Nature. The disease of deification begun by Darwin is far more pervasive than anyone wants to admit. You might say that herd immunity hasn’t yet been reached.
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, …
At New Scientist: Some plants change without changing genetically, in their quest to survive. This just in: The Selfish Gene has left the building in tears. They shouldn’t even have been discussing this.
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.
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.
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.
At New Scientist: “Today,there is evidence of Lamarckian evolution – of a sort… ‘It reorients how we think about the adaptive process,’ he says. “
Then what was On the Origin of Species about? Never mind.
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.
Readers may recall that New Scientist published an article three days ago on 13 ways we need to “rethink the theory of nature.” Their Number 3 rethink is … Move Over, Selfish Gene. It’s replaced not just by kin selection now but by cultural group selection. Most of the article is paywalled but here’s the Read More…
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.”