You are viewing an obsolete version of the DU website which is no longer supported by the Administrators. Visit The New DU.
Democratic Underground Latest Greatest Lobby Journals Search Options Help Login
Google

Reply #10: From one of the web's most prominent biology bloggers: [View All]

Printer-friendly format Printer-friendly format
Printer-friendly format Email this thread to a friend
Printer-friendly format Bookmark this thread
This topic is archived.
Home » Discuss » Editorials & Other Articles Donate to DU
FarrenH Donating Member (485 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-12-08 06:08 PM
Response to Reply #7
10. From one of the web's most prominent biology bloggers:
Edited on Sat Jul-12-08 06:10 PM by FarrenH
PZ Myers


Altenberg meeting next week: expect evolution to simply evolve slightly

Remember Suzan Mazur, the credulous reporter hyping a revolution in evolution? She's at it again, publishing an e-book chapter by chapter on the "Altenberg 16", this meeting that she thinks is all about radically revising evolutionary biology.

I can tell that Massimo Pigliucci one of the 16 is feeling a little exasperation at this nonsense, especially since some of the IDists have seized on it as vindication of their delusions about the "weakness" of evolutionary theory. He's got an excellent post summarizing some of the motivation behind this meeting, which is actually part of a fairly routine process of occasional get-togethers by scientists with similar ideas to hash out the concepts. Here's the actual subject of discussion at the Altenberg meeting.

The basic idea is that there have been some interesting empirical discoveries, as well as the articulation of some new concepts, subsequently to the Modern Synthesis, that one needs to explicitly integrate with the standard ideas about natural selection, common descent, population genetics and statistical genetics (nowadays known as evolutionary quantitative genetics). Some of these empirical discoveries include (but are not limited to) the existence of molecular buffering systems (like the so-called "heat shock response") that may act as "capacitors" (i.e., facilitators) of bursts of phenotypic evolution, and the increasing evidence of the role of epigenetic (i.e., non-genetic) inheritance systems (this has nothing to do with Lamarckism, by the way). Some of the new concepts that have arisen since the MS include (but again are not limited to) the idea of "evolvability" (that different lineages have different propensities to evolve novel structures or functions), complexity theory (which opens the possibility of natural sources of organic complexity other than natural selection), and "accommodation" (a developmental process that may facilitate the coordinated appearance of complex traits in short evolutionary periods).

Now, did you see anything in the above that suggests that evolution is "a theory in crisis"? Did I say anything about intelligent designers, or the rejection of Darwinism, or any of the other nonsense that has filled the various uninformed and sometimes downright ridiculous commentaries that have appeared on the web about the Altenberg meeting? Didn't think so. If next week's workshop succeeds, what we will achieve is taking one more step in an ongoing discussion among scientists about how our theories account for biological phenomena, and how the discovery of new phenomena is to be matched by the elaboration of new theoretical constructs. This is how science works, folks, not a sign of "crisis."

...


The whole presentation of this is completely misleading. Rather get your science reporting from competent science reporters. Or even better, scientists such as Mr Myers.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 

Home » Discuss » Editorials & Other Articles Donate to DU

Powered by DCForum+ Version 1.1 Copyright 1997-2002 DCScripts.com
Software has been extensively modified by the DU administrators


Important Notices: By participating on this discussion board, visitors agree to abide by the rules outlined on our Rules page. Messages posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums are the opinions of the individuals who post them, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Democratic Underground, LLC.

Home  |  Discussion Forums  |  Journals |  Store  |  Donate

About DU  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy

Got a message for Democratic Underground? Click here to send us a message.

© 2001 - 2011 Democratic Underground, LLC