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Friday, July 25, 2008

British physicist asks, How much of evolutionary theory needs fixing? Maybe everything.

David Tyler notes,
In 2005, Massimo Pigliucci, in a book review for Nature, wrote: "The clamour to revise neo-darwinism is becoming so loud that hopefully most practising evolutionary biologists will begin to pay attention. It has been said that science often makes progress not because people change their minds, but because the old ones die off and the new generation is more open to novel ideas." This clamour has not diminished in succeeding years, and one recent evidence of this was a private meeting in Altenberg, Austria, on 10-13 July 2008. This event was publicised in March by Susan Mazur, and her recent comments on the meeting are linked here.

However, this blog is to draw attention to a piece in Science from Elizabeth Pennisi. According to Pigliucci, the attention created by Mazur's write-up "frankly caused me embarrassment". The reasons for this are not altogether clear, because there is no doubt that the Altenberg meeting was designed to address the problems of a failing theory. Scientific advances have revealed blind spots in the neo-darwinian synthesis and it is time for a change. “More than genes pass on information from one generation to the next, for example, and development seems to help shape evolution's course. "Many things need fixing," emphasizes one invited speaker, Eva Jablonka of Tel Aviv University in Israel. "I think that a new evolutionary synthesis is long overdue."
My sense is that the whole theoretical whack - as presently constituted - would collapse, but read the rest here.

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