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.


  1. Your last sentence, that people "...prefer stories that are completely wrong..." is moronic, and the fact that you introduce politics, in the beginning, suggests arrogance that is unjustified. As an "academic", you begin with two strikes against you, for many of us. The "politics" adds strike three, and suggests you waste your time pathetically trying to explain something to half the people who you insult and drive away.
    Dawkins is careful to not show his distracting personal leanings, and carefully maintains his professional teaching style.

  2. What I try to say is that the work of the modern synthesis committee gets an extended life time due to people like Richard Dawkins. He has a professional teaching style; that is true. You say that he is careful to not show his distracting personal leanings. He is VERY diplomatic. Even when he was asked specifically about how his reactions to Lynn Margulis´ insulting way to criticize him and his theories, then he managed to do that in a very respectful way. If you have read any of the critiques from Margulis, then you know that she was not very diplomatic.

    What Dawkins does is just to tell what the modern synthesis committee told. And he has added something, e.g. about organisms as survival vehicles that I find an interesting point of view.

    I compare Maynard Smith´s statement especially against Stephen J. Gould with the way Trump insults other politicians. We saw that especially when he was running for president.

    The theme of this post was why the modern synthesis committee was so successful. I only partly answered this question. I should have mentioned that the main reason was that a group of scientists agreed to stand behind ONE theory. In that way they were in majority against all other theories, which does not prove that their theory was the correct one.

    Textbook writers love theories that are supported by many scientists. Therefore this theory had already entered textbooks when Dawkins was studying, and it is only in the later years that people has started questioning them.

  3. I should add that Dawkins spreads confusion when he uses the term "Selfish DNA". This is not how Orgel & Crick originally used it, as shown in