In “Theory Creep—The Quiet Shift in Evolutionary Thought” (Biologic Institute, June 25, 2012), Doug Axe observes,
It’s amazing how thinking on evolution has shifted since I started following the subject in the 1980s. Today’s biologists clearly have realized that evolutionary theory must be revised to avoid conflict with genomic data, and yet they are very reluctant to say that the problems forcing the change are deep problems. A consequence of this business-as-usual approach is that young biologists may be unaware that they are inheriting a version of Darwinism that would have been considered quite peculiar only a generation ago.
Although the belief that all species are related was then as sacrosanct as it is now, there was at least a general recognition then that trees are only as believable as the evidence supporting them. In particular, most biologists recognized the importance of consistency among inferred species trees, meaning that the analysis performed on corresponding genes or proteins taken from several species ought to yield the same tree regardless of which genes or proteins were used.
Indeed, it becomes so easy to construct utterly fictitious evolutionary histories when we drop the expectation of consistency that such a move ought to be viewed as undermining the whole exercise of phylogenetic reconstruction. Whisky, kerosene and milk have no common pedigree, but that wouldn’t stop us from concocting one if we were to lower the standard in that way. The only prospect of elevating tree-building to something more than a game, then, is that it might uncover a strikingly consistent pattern of relationship between species. And the sobering truth is—it doesn’t.
See also: Re the horse series in current Korean past-sell-by date textbooks