Darwin Debate Published by Nature

first_imgTwo teams, both committed evolutionists, duked it out in Nature over whether Darwin’s mechanism is adequate to explain the diversity of life.In a rare and unexpected article, two teams were given equal time in Nature (Oct 8, 2014) to debate the question, “Does evolutionary theory need a re-think?”  No creationists or intelligent design advocates were allowed to weigh in, of course, but this is a surprising development for a theory often described dogmatically as a fact, for which no further proof is needed.At issue is whether the mutation+selection mechanism is adequate to explain the diversity of life on earth.  Does this need a re-think?  “Yes, urgently” was the response of Kevin Laland and his team.  “No; all is well” is the position taken by Gregory A. Wray, Hopi Hoekstra and their team.  After the debate, some lively comments ensued.Affirmative:  Many of Laland’s team were members of the “Altenberg 16” who met a few years ago to question the core values of Darwinian theory, suggesting that an overhaul is needed.  In this short debate entry, they argued that selection cannot explain adaptation, and that biologists need to get past the “gene-centric” view of evolution.  Among alternatives, they put forward arguments for the “niche construction” view, which posits, “organisms co-direct their own evolution by systematically changing environments and thereby biasing selection.”  They also argued for more roles for evolution during development.Overall, they call their view the EES or “Extended Evolutionary Synthesis” in contrast to SET (Standard Evolutionary Theory).  SET is a hindrance, they say, biasing the way research is conducted.  Biologists need to look beyond the old ways of studying evolution:The above insights derive from different fields, but fit together with surprising coherence. They show that variation is not random, that there is more to inheritance than genes, and that there are multiple routes to the fit between organisms and environments. Importantly, they demonstrate that development is a direct cause of why and how adaptation and speciation occur, and of the rates and patterns of evolutionary change….Researchers in fields from physiology and ecology to anthropology are running up against the limiting assumptions of the standard evolutionary framework without realizing that others are doing the same. We believe that a plurality of perspectives in science encourages development of alternative hypotheses, and stimulates empirical work. No longer a protest movement, the EES is now a credible framework inspiring useful work by bringing diverse researchers under one theoretical roof to effect conceptual change in evolutionary biology.Negative:  The team that says “No, all is well” with Darwinian theory was surprisingly cordial in their response.  Standard neo-Darwinism already allows for selection at multiple levels, they say, so what’s the problem?  Neo-Darwinism is a big tent that can embrace the new perspectives of the other side.  Why, Charles Darwin himself wrote in his last book (1881: ) that earthworms satisfy Laland et al.’s concerns, “because they exemplify an interesting feedback process: earthworms are adapted to thrive in an environment that they modify through their own activities.”And standard evolutionary theory is no straitjacket; “In the decades since, generations of evolutionary biologists have modified, corrected and extended the framework of the modern synthesis in countless ways,” Wray and Hoekstra assure their opponents.  There’s no dogmatism to prevent them from staying within the folds of holy mother Charlie church:So, none of the phenomena championed by Laland and colleagues are neglected in evolutionary biology. Like all ideas, however, they need to prove their value in the marketplace of rigorous theory, empirical results and critical discussion. The prominence that these four phenomena command in the discourse of contemporary evolutionary theory reflects their proven explanatory power, not a lack of attention….What Laland and colleagues term the standard evolutionary theory is a caricature that views the field as static and monolithic. They see today’s evolutionary biologists as unwilling to consider ideas that challenge convention.We see a very different world. We consider ourselves fortunate to live and work in the most exciting, inclusive and progressive period of evolutionary research since the modern synthesis. Far from being stuck in the past, current evolutionary theory is vibrantly creative and rapidly growing in scope. Evolutionary biologists today draw inspiration from fields as diverse as genomics, medicine, ecology, artificial intelligence and robotics. We think Darwin would approve.They do, however, want to hang on to the gene-centric view of selection.Intelligent design did enter the debate briefly.  Laland’s team made this revealing comment about the reason Darwinians might be avoiding the appearance of controversy:Yet the mere mention of the EES often evokes an emotional, even hostile, reaction among evolutionary biologists. Too often, vital discussions descend into acrimony, with accusations of muddle or misrepresentation. Perhaps haunted by the spectre of intelligent design, evolutionary biologists wish to show a united front to those hostile to science. Some might fear that they will receive less funding and recognition if outsiders — such as physiologists or developmental biologists — flood into their field.However, another factor is more important: many conventional evolutionary biologists study the processes that we claim are neglected, but they comprehend them very differently (see ‘No, all is well’). This is no storm in an academic tearoom, it is a struggle for the very soul of the discipline.Follow the money and don’t be afraid of ghosts?  Casey Luskin had some choice words about this discussion for Evolution News & Views.  He wasn’t alone, though; some other scientists weighed in on the controversy in the Comments.  Joan Roughgarden, for instance, used the occasion to repeat her allegations against sexual selection.  Then, she gave her observations about the self-satisfied, disrespectful dogmatism of the consensus:The “No, All is Well” group speaks confidently of their field as “vibrantly creative and rapidly growing in scope”. Instead, I see progressive decline in the importance of evolutionary biology. In the 60’s evolution was a dominant discipline, with many of the new-synthesis leaders still alive. Ecology then was nothing, written off by some as “the misidentification of beetles on a field trip.” Today, evolution is an embattled subject whereas ecology along with its stepchild of conservation biology flourish. Why? Because ecologists never assumed the self-satisfied posture the “No” group implies. To regain its former standing, evolutionary biologists must engage respectfully with diverse points of view and open themselves to interdisciplinary perspectives.This debate did not have a peaceful resolution with both sides shaking hands.Well, it’s a start.  It’s still DODO, DIDO, DIGO, and GIDO (see Darwin Dictionary), with both sides throwing garbage at each other while outsiders chuckle from the sidelines.  Only when they leave Darwin and his garbage out of the equation can progress be made, but that would require both sides to “open themselves to interdisciplinary perspectives,” including intelligent design.What’s most memorable about this article is that it gives the lie to Eugenie Scott’s constant NCSE refrain, “there is no controversy in evolution.”  All scientists agree, don’t they?  Let’s remember the take-home line from the article, but with a slight modification to the last word: “Perhaps haunted by the spectre of intelligent design, evolutionary biologists wish to show a united front to those hostile to” [not science, but] the dogmatic, DODO consensus.(Visited 38 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Afcon ’17: Bafana draw Cameroon, Gambia and Mauritania

first_img9 April 2015Bafana Bafana have been drawn against Cameroon, Gambia and Mauritania in Group M of the 2017 Orange Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.The tournament will be held in Gabon after a decision by the CAF Congress that saw the Central African country beat Ghana and Algeria to the vote to host the 31st Edition of CAF’s premier event. War-torn Libya was initially selected to host Afcon, but concerns over players and spectators’ safety pushed CAF to choose an alternative host.Bafana Bafana were among 52 countries that went into the hat at the draw in Cairo on Wednesday. Only the group winner will progress to the Afcon finals, which will include the two best-placed runners-up and the host nation.The first round of qualifying fixtures will take place from 8 to 16 June.Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba said he was happy with the draw, but warned that it would not be a walk in the park.“Some may see this as a relatively easy group. On paper it is, but on the field it is a different story altogether. I have said before that there are no easy matches in international football anymore. Football has changed and every country will give it a go,” he said.“While we may know much about Cameroon, not much is said about Gambia and Mauritania, and those could be our banana peels. We have to do what we did during the 2015 qualifiers – be brave, show no respect, but, above all, prepare thoroughly and take nothing for granted,” he added.“I am very happy with the draw and closer to the time we will reveal our plans as to how we will tackle the qualifiers. We did well in the 2015 qualifiers but that is all in the past and the important thing is maintain the standard we set by qualifying outright.”South Africa is ranked 55 on the Fifa World Rankings, Cameroon is 49 (10 on the continent), Mauritius is 190 (51 on the continent) and Gambia is 168 (46 on the continent).Bafana Bafana will open their 2017 Afcon qualifying account against Gambia at home on the weekend of 12, 13, 14 June this year.In the last qualifier, South Africa will host Mauritania on the weekend of 2, 3, 4 September 2016.South Africa’s 2017 Afcon fixturesSouth Africa vs Gambia (12,13,14 June 2015)Mauritania vs South Africa (4, 5, 6 September 2015)Cameroon vs South Africa (23, 24, 25, 26 March 2016)South Africa vs Cameroon (26, 27, 28, 29 March 2016)Gambia vs South Africa (3, 4, 5 June 2016)South Africa vs Mauritania (2, 3, 4 September 2016)Afcon 2017 – the full drawGroup A: Tunisia, Togo, Liberia, DjiboutiGroup B: Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Central Africa Republic, MadagascarGroup C: Mali, Equatorial Guinea, Benin, South SudanGroup D: Burkina Faso, Uganda, Botswana, ComorosGroup E: Zambia, Congo, Kenya, Guinea BissauGroup F: Cape Verde, Morocco, Libya, Sao TomeGroup G: Nigeria, Egypt, Tanzania, ChadGroup H: Ghana, Mozambique, Rwanda, MauritiusGroup I: Cote d’Ivoire, Sudan, Sierra Leone, GabonGroup J: Algeria, Ethiopia, Lesotho, SeychellesGroup K: Senegal, Niger, Namibia, BurundiGroup L: Guinea, Malawi, Zimbabwe, SwazilandGroup M: Cameroon, South Africa, Gambia, MauritaniaSource: South African Football Associationlast_img read more

Athawale to meet CM over lack of security

first_imgA day after Union Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale was slapped by a man in Ambernath, the Minister on Sunday said someone jealous of his growing popularity might have conspired against him.“I am a popular leader and [I] have no enmity with anyone. This might have been done at the behest of someone who is angry with me over something,” Mr. Athawali, president of the Republican Party of India-Athawale group (RPI-A), told reporters. The Minister also said security arrangements at the programme were not adequate. “Even when I was going to sit in my vehicle, I was not given security by the police station concerned. I will meet Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, and this incident should be investigated,” he said.Condemning the attack on Mr. Athawale, members of the RPI (A) staged protests in Ambernath, and in several localities in Mumbai, on Sunday. Pravin Gosavi, a former member of the RPI(A), slapped Mr. Athawale at an event in Ambernath on Saturday night, after reportedly approaching the Minister to get a picture clicked. He was beaten up by RPI(A) supporters.last_img read more

Ireland squad

first_imgIreland will have a tough outing against the big teams but skipper William Porterfield can take heart from the fact that there are teams they can beat in this World Cup.Skipper William Porterfield is a compact left-hand batsman, who has five ODI hundreds to his credit. He can bowl a bit when required. Kevin O’Brien and Niall O’Brien and Boyd Rankin are the other names to watch out for in the Irish squad.Squad: William Porterfield (captain), Andre Botha, Alex Cusack, Niall O’Brien (wk), Kevin O’Brien, George Dockrell, Trent Johnston, Nigel Jones, John Mooney, Boyd Rankin, Paul Stirling, Albert van der Merwe, Gary Wilson (wk), Andrew White, Ed Joyce.last_img read more