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Altenberg 16: An Expos Of The Evolution Industry - Investigative Science Report By Suzan Mazur [View All]

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althecat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-12-08 04:30 PM
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Edited on Sat Jul-12-08 04:30 PM by althecat

Will the Real Theory of Evolution Please Stand Up?

An E-Book In 6 Parts By Investigative Journalist Suzan Mazur

Kondrad Lorenz and his geese

Wellington July 11th - Today 16 rock stars of evolutionary science and philosophy are gathering at the Konrad Lorenz Institute in Altenberg, Austria to remix a new theory of evolution. The meeting is closed to the public and media but exclusively here on Scoop over the last six days Suzan Mazur has published the results of her six month investigation into the work of Altenberg 16. Scoop is honoured to present an e-book in six parts... The Altenberg 16: An Expos Of The Evolution Industry


2. Will the Real Theory of Evolution Please Stand Up?
3. Evo Expos: M. Pigliucci & M. Piattelli-Palmarini
4. Rare Chat W/ R. Lewontin & A. Lima-De-Faria
5. Evo Expos: The Wizards -- Pivar, Dawkins, Salthe
6. Evolution: Except Vanity Fair Media Doesn't Get It


"There has never been a theory of evolution." Cytogeneticist Antonio Lima-de-Faria, Evolution without Selection

No one knows how life began, but so-called theories of evolution are continually being announced. This book, The Altenberg 16: Will the Real Theory of Evolution Please Stand Up? exposes the rivalry in science today surrounding attempts to discover that elusive mechanism of evolution, as rethinking evolution is pushed to the political front burner in hopes that "survival of the fittest" ideology can be replaced with a more humane explanation for our existence and stave off further wars, economic crises and destruction of the Earth.

Evolutionary science is as much about the posturing, salesmanship, stonewalling and bullying that goes on as it is about actual scientific theory. It is a social discourse involving hypotheses of staggering complexity with scientists, recipients of the biggest grants of any intellectuals, assuming the power of politicians while engaged in Animal House pie-throwing and name-calling: "ham-fisted", "looney Marxist hangover", "secular creationist", "philosopher" (a scientist who cant get grants anymore), "quack", "crackpot". . .

In short, its a modern day quest for the holy grail, but with few knights. At a time that calls for scientific vision, scientific inquirys been hijacked by an industry of greed, with evolution books hyped like snake oil at a carnival.

Perhaps the most egregious display of commercial dishonesty is next years celebration of Charles Darwins Origin of Species the so-called theory of evolution by natural selection, i.e., survival of the fittest, that was foisted on us almost 150 years ago.

Scientists agree that natural selection can occur. But the scientific community has known for some time that natural selection has nothing to do with evolution. It also knows that self-organization is real, that is, matter can form without a genetic recipe like the snowflake (non-living). It does this without external guidance.

And that the Hydra (living), for example, can self-assemble its scattered cells even after being forced through a sieve. Yet, science elites continue to term self-assembly and self-organization "woo woo".

Coinciding with the 2009 Darwinian celebration, MIT will publish a book by 16 biologists and philosophers meeting in Altenberg, Austria at the Konrad Lorenz Institute in July to discuss a reformulation of the theory of evolution. Thats the mansion made famous by Konrad Lorenzs imprinting experiments, where Lorenz got his geese to follow him because they sensed he was their mother.

The symposiums title is "Toward an Extended Evolutionary Synthesis?", although the event is expected to be the actual kickoff of an evolution remix.

Some of the Altenberg 16 or A-16, as I like to call them, have hinted that theyre trying to steer science in a more honest direction, that is, by addressing non-centrality of the gene. They say that the "Modern Evolutionary Synthesis", also called neo-Darwinism which cobbled together the budding field of population genetics and paleontology, etc., 70 years ago also marginalized the inquiry into morphology. And that it is then in the 1930s and 1940s that the seeds of corruption were planted and an Evolution industry born.

I broke the story about the Altenberg affair last March with the assistance of Alastair Thompson and the team at Scoop Media, the independent news agency based in New Zealand. (Chapter 2, "Altenberg! The Woodstock of Evolution?")

But will the A-16 deliver? Will they help rid us of the natural selection "survival of the fittest" mentality that has plagued civilization for a century and a half, and on which Darwinism and neo-Darwinism are based, now that the cat is out of the bag that selection is politics not science? That selection cannot be measured exactly. That it is not the mechanism of evolution. That it is an abstract rusty tool left over from 19th century British imperial exploits.

Or will the A-16 tip-toe around the issue, appease the Darwin industry and protect foundation grants?

Certain things look promising. First, while most of the A-16 have roots in Darwinian and neo-Darwinian theory, they recognize the need to challenge the prevailing Modern Evolutionary Synthesis because theres too much it doesnt explain.

For example, the Modern Synthesis was produced when genetics was still a baby and weve now discovered all the human genes there are to be found. Weve only got 20,000 - 25,000 of them, roughly what other species have, and those genes arrived on the scene a half billion years ago. So theres a push for more investigation into non-genetic areas, for how body plans originated, for instance. Charles Darwin never said.

Second, the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis event is being hosted by Konrad Lorenz Institute, where for years there have been discussions about self-organization.

Third, one of the stars of the symposium, New York Medical College cell biologist Stuart Newman, hypothesizes that all 35 animal phyla self-organized at the time of the Cambrian explosion (a half billion years ago) without a genetic recipe or selection (hardwiring supposedly followed).

Fourth, KLIs chairman, Gerd Mueller has collaborated with Stuart Newman on a book about origin of form. And Newman has other allies within the group, including Yale biologist Gunter Wagner, Budapest biologist and KLI board member Eors Szathmary, as well as KLIs science manager, Werner Callebaut a Belgian philosopher who will deliver the non-centrality of gene paper.

I published a "first peek" at Stuart Newmans concept (Appendix, "Stuart Newmans High Tea") following his presentation at the University of Notre Dame in March. There has so far been a stonewalling on the science blogs about self-organization. The consensus of the evolution pack seems to be that if an idea doesnt fit in with Darwinism and neo-Darwinism KEEP IT OUT!

Meanwhile, Swedish cytogeneticist Antonio Lima-de-Faria, author of the book Evolution without Selection, sees any continuance of the natural selection concept as "compromise". He says Darwinism and neo-Darwinism deal only with the biological or "terminal" phase of evolution and impede discovery of the real mechanism, which is "primaeval" based on elementary particles, chemical elements and minerals (Chapter 6, "Knight of the North Star").

Lima-de-Farias views are considered "extreme" by some science elites 20 years after publication of Evolution without Selection, his book about self-assembly a phenomenon he defines as "the spontaneous aggregation of biological structures involving formation of weak chemical bonds between surfaces with complementary shapes". However, it looks like some other science elites may be warming up to concepts he laid down decades ago as evidenced by comments at Junes World Science Festival in New York.

Steve Benner, pioneer of synthetic biology and founder, Westheimer Institute for Science:

"But certainly our view of how life originated on Earth is very much dependent on minerals being involved in the process to control the chemistry. . . . So in that sense, I agree with my distinguished colleague from Lund ."

Paul Davies, theoretical physicist and astrobiologist, Director BEYOND Center, Arizona State University:

"There has to be a pathway from chemistry to biology powerful levels before Darwinian evolution even kicks in."

Lima-de-Faria notes that when Charles Darwins Origin of Species and Alfred Russel Wallaces essay on natural selection came out, both were criticized. He quotes Darwin quoting a Professor Haughton of Dublin "that everything new in them was false and what was true was old". Lima-de-Faria adds that "time and again, any radically new approach" in science is met with the same response.

The commercial media is both ignorant of and blocks coverage of stories about non-centrality of the gene because its science advertising dollars come from the gene-centered Darwin industry. With declining ad revenue already widespread, and employee layoffs and contract buyouts in the editorial departments of news organizations like Newsweek, Time, the Washington Post as well as the New York Times reporting on an evolution paradigm shift could mean the loss of even more advertising and/or yet another editors job.

But neither will most science blogs report theres a paradigm shift afoot because they share the same ideology as the corporate media. At the same time, the Darwin industry is also in bed with government, even as political leaders remain clueless about evolutionary biology.

Thus, the public is unaware that its dollars are being squandered on funding of mediocre, middle-brow science or that its children are being intellectually starved as a result of outdated texts and unenlightened teachers.

However, while the A-16 organizers have noted that their July symposium "could turn into a major stepping stone for the entire field of evolutionary biology," this book is not an endorsement of any attempt to "graft" novel ideas onto the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis only of the decision to begin sorting out the mess. The real task is one of making a theory where none previously existed. That will require casting a wide net for visionaries who have political courage. And it will take some time.

Again, lets not forget that Evolution is an industry where scientists are media stars with books to promote as well as images. The A-16 are no exception.


A remarkable piece of journalism with extraordinary wide ranging implications which Scoop is very proud to be able to present to DU readers.


Will the Real Theory of Evolution Please Stand Up?

regards to DU

Alastair Thompson Co-Editor
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