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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Why was the modern synthesis committee so successful?

I think they found that if you want to spread a message to most people, then it must be simple. We see it also in Donald Trump’s strategy. Trump once said that: "The day I realized it can be smart to be shallow was, for me, a deep experience". By using very shallow argument based on just selection in combination with observation of changes based on sexual recombination the committee managed to have their arguments accepted by the general public. When they could not find factual arguments, e.g. when a paleontologist like Stephen J. Gould raised too difficult questions, then they used unfactual ones, as Maynard Smith in 1984 said about population geneticists: "...the attitude of population geneticists to any paleontologist rash enough to offer a contribution to evolutionary theory has been to tell him to go away and find another fossil, and not to bother the grownups." Such arguments are much like Trump’s arguments when he attacks other politicians.

There is no connection between allele frequencies in a population and new features in life. The former can take place without any mutations. It is adaptation, while the latter is the result of mutations. Adaptationists however try to imply that there are such a connection, by saying that microevolution results in macroevolution. That may seem quite logical. And it is logical if one with microevolution means small steps of evolution, but they imply that the adaptation that takes place without a single mutation is the same as microevolution. They used the changes of allele frequency that took place under the industrial revolution as a proof of microevolution.

But that is wrong. Those changes were pure adaptation. They could have happened without any mutation at all. It is about time we start telling people what a big lie that has been told by the modern synthesis committee. We should instead tell the correct story, i.e. how mutations can result in new features. But that story is much more difficult to understand. And as long as there are scientists like Richard Dawkins who tell the simple solution, people prefer to listen to them. Instead of listening to the true story they prefer stories that are completely wrong.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Symbiogenesis

According to Wikipedia, at least for the moment, "symbiogenesis" is the same as "endosymbiotic theory". But that is not in accordance with Lynn Margulis´ use of the terms. She was the most prominent of users of both these terms, but when Wikipedia defines it in this way, by giving the common explanation of the term endosymbiosis to both there terms, then the real meaning of the word symbiogenesis will for many people remain unknown.

Symbiogenesis is in general a transfer of genetic information from one organism to another, e.g. a bacterium to a eukaryote. Endosymbiosis is the inclusion of a bacterium inside a eukaryotic cell.

Teleology

Richard Dawkins opposes to the idea that randomness is an important part of evolution. He has eventually, after many years of critique from Larry Moran and others, accepted that there are neutral mutations, but he does not accept that they are of any use for evolution, just for genetic research. He sees evolution as predictable, which is a kind of teleology. Thereby his standpoint could be compared to those of his enemies, Intelligent Design followers like Michael Behe, creationists and Lynn Margulis. For Margulis the creation of novelty was about Lamackism, partly epigenetics and partly symbiogenesis. She held that the bacteria which according to her are the source of novelty in eukaryotes are intelligent. They together constitute a big intelligent network. This intelligence is partly used to create novelties, partly to control the status of the Earth surface. She cooperated with James Lovelock on this theory.

According to the blog "THE EVOLUTION LIST" Dawkins is not the only adaptationist that holds teleology as part of his philosophy:

One of the bedrock assumptions underlying both modern physics and modern biology is non-teleology: the assumption that natural processes do not include any teleological input. I personally think that this is wrong, and base my objection to this idea on Ernst Mayr's monumental book, Toward a New Philosophy of Biology, published in 1988. Mayr argued very persuasively that teleological explanations are entirely appropriate in biology insofar as they refer to the development and maintenance of living organisms. According to Mayr, both of these processes (and indeed all biological processes) are directed by programs (i.e. genomes, etc.) that pre-exist the entities and processes that they specify and regulate. In the jargon of the current debate, genomes and other developmental programs are "designs" for the assembly and operation of living organisms.

In this case the author, who is apparently himself a teleologist, holds that Ernst Mayr was one. There is an introduction to this post here.

What is "phenotype"?

Marleen raised the question whether or not introns belong to the phenotype. Her question in a comment on Sandwalk about a paper by E.V. Koonin goes like this:

"Isn’t it true that adaptions regard only the phenotype? Can we consider introns and their evolution as traits that are yes or no under selection?"

Wikipedia says about "phenotype: "A phenotype is the composite of an organism’s observable characteristics or traits...."
Further on it says:
"A phenotype results from the expression of an organism’s genetic code, its genotype,.."

Based on these definitions all components of the phenotype must be observable. Introns are not genotype, because they are not expressed. If we search for "extended phenotype", then we find Dawkins’ definition of behavior as phenotype. But if no microstructures are phenotype, then we would have to use a special terminology for microbiology.

I would see introns as phenotype.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Richard Dawkins is creating confusion and misconceptions

The misconception that evolution is the same as adaptation was created by the "Modern Synthesis" committee. They posited that the mechanisms that control allele frequencies in a population are the same as the frequencies driving evolution of life, including speciation and creation of new features. Their theories were based almost exclusively on natural selection. Dawkins is presenting a theory in his books that is based only on selection, as he says that mutation rate should ideally be zero. Denis Noble is at odds with this theory, but his theory is no better. See my previous post for more information about the confusion that terminology is creating.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Evolution vs adaptation

The word "evolution" was in use long before Darwin. Even though he did not use it in his book, he is associated with the word when we talk about biology. The reason may be that he indirectly defined it in the last paragraph of his book, that ends with "evolved":

It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone circling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.

"Adaptation" has been used as a contrast to evolution to denote the changes of organisms that scientists before Darwin, such as Lamarck, described. But these are changes exclusively within a species. They used the observations of such changing as a proof of species constancy, e.g. that dogs can change into highly different races, but still the species is the same.

But from around 1940 there was created some confusion of this terminology. Persons behind "the modern synthesis" used "evolution" to denote changes of allele frequencies in a population. These processes do not involve any novelty, i.e. no speciation and no creation of features. They are therefore adaptations, and no evolution. Some of these persons may have allowed mutations, but then just as a way to fill up the reservoir of alleles. Richard Dawkins, who is basing his writing on adaptation, said in the Homage to Darwin debate with Lynn Margulis that for eukaryotes the ideal mutation rate is zero.

The confusive terminology is therefore still in use, and due to the popularity of his books, this may give rise to misconceptions that should be avoided. You may find some background information in this site.

Introduction

This is a new blog intended for discussing various misconceptions in evolution theories. I started the blog because I saw so many claims that I found not in accordance with common sense. We can know for sure that there are misconceptions, because several theories contradict each other. If you have found this page by Googling or otherwise, then you are probably interested in evolution, and you probably also want to identify common misconceptions. You have probably already visited other blogs with the same theme, but if not, I will present a list of the blogs that I have found most interesting:
Of these, the one that I find most useful is Sandwalk. Larry Moran is doing a wonderful job with Sandwalk. If you by chance have not yet discovered what a treasure this is, then you should try it out. Larry has been active with this blog since 2006, and I hope he will be active for many years to come. Beware of this one:
The author believes that evolution is controlled by some teleological program, that is in mystical ways constructed by selection.