Arlin Stoltzfus: Reactionary fringe meets mutation-biased adaptation

Just got through reading the whole thing. It is an excellent series indeed. I recommend reading the whole thing. Thanks for pointing us to this @davecarlson .

Continuing the discussion from Interesting series on Mutation-biased evolution at the Sandwalk:

Reactionary fringe meets mutation-biased adaptation

  1. The empirical case
  2. Some objections addressed
  3. The causes and consequences of biases in the introduction process
  4. What makes this new?
  5. Beyond the “Synthesis” debate
    -Thinking about theories
    -Modern Synthesis of 1959
    -How history is distorted
    -Taking neo-Darwinism

    -Synthesis apologetics
  6. What “limits” adaptation?
  7. Going forward

He spends a great of time on historiography of “Darwinism,” and takes a nuanced position on EES too. It is a very helpful exposition.

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@Joe_Felsenstein , I thought you’d want to see this. Hope you didn’t miss it!

Today the Synthesis story-- the Knights of the Synthesis, wielding a powerful theory, defeat all rivals and unite the kingdom, establishing the permanent reign of house Darwin-- is ridiculously unhelpful. The most fundamental experimental work since Johannsen is certainly not Dobzhansky’s work on balanced inversions, but perhaps the Lenski experiment. Our thinking is more strongly shaped by the distinctive ideas of Gould and Dawkins, by the Spandrels paper, by arguments of Williams, Hamilton, Kimura and Maynard Smith, than by most of the scientists in the figure above. The practice of evolutionary research owes less to them than to Felsenstein and others who developed rigorous methods of inference and hypothesis-testing that have revolutionized the field, accelerating it much further down the path of hard science than the hand-waving style of Mayr, et al.

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The “controversy” surrounding EES is always a fun discussion to have.

The discussions around niche construction have always confused me. This seems to be a foundational aspect of bog-standard evolutionary theory. Darwin himself wrote about the interactions of species, and is considered by many to the “Father of Ecology”. Darwin even wrote a book on earthworms, describing how they alter their environment which makes it possible for other species to thrive. Darwin himself wrote about niche construction.

At best, non-standard heredity is an interesting topic that does challenge what I would consider to be the standard theory, but non-standard heredity is a small side show in a very limited number of lineages. Biology is notorious for exceptions, but that doesn’t stop us from recognizing theories that explain the bulk of the evidence.


I thought this guys take was pretty helpful. He is pretty negative about the EES and the Third Way movement, but also think the MS crowd get it wrong, promulgating a self-serving pseudo history of their own.

I did make some comments on this series of interesting posts in 2019. See: Sandwalk: Reactionary fringe meets mutation-biased adaptation. 3. The causes and consequences of biases in the introduction process

One must also, in considering these controversies, consider which disagreements are mostly about what we call the current theory, rather than what it is.


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