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File this under: “Science is open to new ideas”

David Tyler asks, Are evolutionary biologists really ready for the Extended Synthesis?

Here, he discusses the sad story of efforts to reform the discipline three decades ago:

The background to the 1982 paper was the burgeoning disquiet with Neo-Darwinism. Gould and Eldredge led the way with their assault on gradualism in the fossil record. Brooks recounts his own involvement with a small band of pioneering rebels:

“By 1982, the centenary of Darwin’s death, Niles Eldredge and Steven J. Gould had catalyzed a loosely connected group of evolutionary biologists unhappy with the New Synthesis to unleash a cascade of criticisms and proposals. Emboldened by this display of the scientific community at its meritocratic best, Ed Wiley and I entered the fray. The day we finished proofreading Evolution as Entropy, David Hull presciently warned us the fun was over. Soon, I received an envelope from a friend who had seen a manuscript on a colleague’s desk. Such privileged material is rarely copied and forwarded. My friend wrote, “I think you and Ed should know what you’re up against.” The privately circulated manuscript was authored by three academics at the University of California-Berkeley. Ed and I were stunned by its vicious tone. Why the rhetorical heat?”

Intense hostility to new ideas is often because people feel threatened. There is typically more heat than light. Brooks found this an instructive lesson in both the philosophy of science and the sociology of science.

If the Darwinists’ Settled Science keeps going for very much longer, it will rival several religions that got started in the 19th century for general longevity of dogma. I guess that makes it Even More True.

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One Response to File this under: “Science is open to new ideas”

  1. Why are comments closed on the Larry Moran thread.

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