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Had Evolution Moved Beyond Neo-Darwinism?


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#1 forests

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 10:55 AM

Hello folks.

I am a University student and I have an interest in evolution. Over the past few months I have been emailing many scientists (biologists and ecologists etc) as I believe that evolution has moved beyond the neo-Darwinian paradigm.

Now this is quite a confusing subject, becuase I have recieved a mixed response from different scientists. Some admit to me that neo-Darwinism is outdated and incomplete whilst some others still represent that view.

Eugene V. Koonin in his book 'The Logic of Chance' (The Nature and Origin of Biological Evolution) is critical towards neo-Darwinism or 'Modern Synthesis' as they call it and he sees a totally new paradigm shift developing in evolution. The American biologist James A. Shapiro author of Evolution: A View from the 21st Century has also said the same thing. Some other scientists have also told me by 2020 they see neo-Darwinism as totally dead.

What is to be said about this? Any scientists actually in the field here can they confirm any of this? Thanks.

#2 Moontanman

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 11:12 AM

Hello folks.

I am a University student and I have an interest in evolution. Over the past few months I have been emailing many scientists (biologists and ecologists etc) as I believe that evolution has moved beyond the neo-Darwinian paradigm.

Now this is quite a confusing subject, becuase I have recieved a mixed response from different scientists. Some admit to me that neo-Darwinism is outdated and incomplete whilst some others still represent that view.

Eugene V. Koonin in his book 'The Logic of Chance' (The Nature and Origin of Biological Evolution) is critical towards neo-Darwinism or 'Modern Synthesis' as they call it and he sees a totally new paradigm shift developing in evolution. The American biologist James A. Shapiro author of Evolution: A View from the 21st Century has also said the same thing. Some other scientists have also told me by 2020 they see neo-Darwinism as totally dead.

What is to be said about this? Any scientists actually in the field here can they confirm any of this? Thanks.



I am curious, what makes you think that neo-Darwinism no longer accurately describes the bio diversity we see in nature?

#3 forests

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 11:35 AM

I am curious, what makes you think that neo-Darwinism no longer accurately describes the bio diversity we see in nature?


Well lets leave what I think about the matter out of it, lets see what the scientists have to say. Have you read Koonin or Shapiro?

what i can say though is we know that science is not meant to be static, and neo-darwinism was 50 years ago or more with very limited mechanisms... since then we have discovered evolution is much more complex & many other mechanisms etc so I see no reason why we have to stay static at neodarwinism. just the things which pop to mind for example.. developmental biology (evo-devo), genomics, epigenetics, ecology, symbiosis, hox genes, natural genetic engineering, niche construction, systems biology, horizontal gene transfer, panbiogeography... neolamarckism ... & many others... do not fit into a limited neodarwinian framework. Many scientists have told me they see a new synthesis replacing neodarwinism as they see that model incomplete...

Edited by forests, 02 July 2012 - 11:39 AM.


#4 forests

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 02:00 PM

As I sent you on the other forum Moontanman please see Extensions, revisions & alternative evolutionary theories

http://home.planet.n.../korthof.htm#C5

#5 forests

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 04:06 PM

I suggest you read the following papers to see just some of the scientists who want to move beyond darwinism:

Eugene Koonin, in his research paper, titled "Darwinian evolution in the light of genomics", published 12 Feb 2009, says:

"Now, 50 years after the consolidation of the Modern Synthesis, evolutionary biology undoubtedly faces a new major challenge and, at the same time, the prospect of a new conceptual breakthrough"....."By contrast, the insistence on adaptation being the primary mode of evolution that is apparent in the Origin, but especially in the Modern Synthesis, became deeply suspicious if not outright obsolete, making room for a new worldview that gives much more prominence to non-adaptive processes"......"Collectively, the developments in evolutionary genomics and systems biology outlined here seem to suggest that, although at present only isolated elements of a new, 'postmodern' synthesis of evolutionary biology are starting to be formulated, such a synthesis is indeed feasible. Moreover, it is likely to assume definitive shape long before Darwin's 250th anniversary"

http://nar.oxfordjou.../37/4/1011.full

Michael R Rose and Todd H Oakley, in their research paper, titled "The new biology: beyond the Modern Synthesis" published on 24 November 2007

wrote that The last third of the 20th Century featured an accumulation of research findings that severely challenged the assumptions of the "Modern Synthesis" which provided the foundations for most biological research during that century. The foundations of that "Modernist" biology had thus largely crumbled by the start of the 21st Century. This in turn raises the question of foundations for biology in the 21st Century".

http://www.biology-d...content/2/1/30/

Soft inheritance: Challenging the Modern Synthesis Eva Jablonka and Marion J. Lamb

http://www.somosbact...s.com/soft1.pdf

This paper presents some of the recent challenges to theModern Synthesis of evolutionary theory, which has dominatedevolutionary thinking for the last sixty years. The focus ofthe paper is the challenge of soft inheritance - the idea that variations that arise during development can beinherited. There is ample evidence showing that phenotypic variations that are independent of variations in DNAsequence, and targeted DNA changes that are guided by epigenetic control systems, are important sources ofhereditary variation, and hence can contribute to evolutionary changes. Furthermore, under certain conditions, themechanisms underlying epigenetic inheritance can also lead to saltational changes that reorganize the epigenome. These discoveriesare clearly incompatible with the tenets of the Modern Synthesis, which denied any significant role forLamarckian and saltational processes. In view of the data that support soft inheritance, as well as other challengesto the Modern Synthesis, it is concluded that that synthesis no longer offers a satisfactory theoretical framework forevolutionary biology.

Edited by forests, 02 July 2012 - 04:07 PM.


#6 Rade

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 06:11 PM

Epigenetics does not replace natural selection, it is explained by natural selection. See here:

http://epigenie.com/...-and-selection/

The conclusion is:

"selection for epigenetic traits can have cumulative, heritable effects in mammals and suggests an alternative to the notion that natural selection acts on genetic variation alone".

Thus, research in epigenetics has discovered that natural selection does not act ONLY on genetic variation, non-genetic variation also can be acted on by natural selection. This does not mean that natural selection acting on genetic variation is not primary mode that variation is passed generation to generation, nor that research in epigenetics shows that Neo-Darwinism modern synthesis is not valid. All it means is that the modern synthesis is plastic and constantly being modified as new experimental information becomes available.

What is important is that Darwin notion of natural selection can explain epigenetic traits as well as traits that result from genetic variation.

#7 Moontanman

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 06:17 PM

As I sent you on the other forum Moontanman please see Extensions, revisions & alternative evolutionary theories

http://home.planet.n.../korthof.htm#C5



I am aware of what you said on another forum and I am still suspicious that the site you linked to, if not you, has a hidden agenda of at least exaggerating the idea that The theory of evolution is somehow fundamentally wrong. This is not true, while Darwin was not 100% correct his ideas were and still are good enough to only require tweaking as new information comes in and not a over turning of the theory completely.

#8 Rade

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 06:23 PM

A nice summary of some myths that address directly misunderstanding of the OP topic title:

===

What is Epigenetics Theory? Myths and Facts

Epigenetic theory is an emergent concept that includes the influence of both genetic behavior and its direct contact with environmental forces in the gene expression of a phenotype. It focuses mainly on the dynamic interaction between these two influences during development. Simply put, the Epigenetic theory considers evolution as a complex process of development brought about by external factors affecting ontogeny transformation. In addition, Epigenetics offers an explanation about the stable alterations in gene expression potential brought about by some random change or any environmental influence.

With the introduction of Epigenetics in the world of Science, many of its fields are now subject to misconceptions. Possible reasons for these misunderstandings are due to errors or bias media reporting. Aside from that, science continues to progress at a very fast pace. Proliferation of articles and reports from anonymous sources makes the idea more vague and difficult to understand. Thus, more people are quite hesitant to accept, if not always aware to these new developments. To make things clear about Epigenetics and its related components, here are examples of a few misconceptions that need correction.

Myth #1: “Everything you learned about evolution is wrong.”

Evolution is not as constant as what might we thought it was. It even progresses faster that it already has due to environmental factors, which is difficult to comprehend from an evolutionary standpoint. Since Epigenetics is still a theory, it merely provides a scientific explanation to an empirical phenomenon in relation to genetics and modern sciences. Thus, in a theoretical perspective, Epigenetics need not to be 100% correct but at least consistently correct most of the time. The same goes for Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, which also has its exceptions. While views about evolution may change over time just like how Epigenetics slightly negate Darwin’s theory, it does not mean everything about it is false. In truth, his theory is base on both facts and inferences that makes falsifiable and testable predictions.

Myth #2: “Epigenetics dislodges the idea of natural selection in gene expression.”

Epigenetics does not replace the theory of natural selection. It is just adding more information and corrections to the already established principles and ideas in the process of gene expression. It is still a fact that eye color, hairlines, height and such are immutable results of DNA. However, the way these genes manifest is what Epigenetics is actually talking about. For instance, a man is already predetermined to be tall due to its genetic makeup. However, he may suffer from malnutrition and lack of physical exercise that may hinder him to achieve his predetermined potential stature. Thus, genetic and environmental factors significantly influence the gene expression embedded in the human’s biological system. It cannot replace the fact that natural selection still takes place in the processing of DNA but controlling how it manifests is still possible.

Myth #3: “Genes account for absolutely everything.”

This is indeed a clear misunderstanding even long before. The idea of genes are everything to human life and cannot do anything about it is very wrong. It is a fact that genes are unchangeable but it can be controlled. It simply implies that inheriting a particular gene may be inevitable but the outcome depends upon the expression of the gene. In the process of gene expression, physical modifications to DNA may happen due to some external factors. As such, the genes adapt to its environment turning “on” or “off” particular traits to surface. That is why, it is a wrong notion that when you parents may manifest some hereditary diseases then you are to experience the same. If you take care of your health and manage your lifestyle very well, prevention of occurrence of these kinds of diseases is still achievable.

In conclusion, it is a fact that evolution is more complicated than we already know at any given point in time. Epigenetics is not entirely wrong nor entirely correct at all times. To put it positively, it just adds some more complexity to the already elaborate evolution and development. With its breakthrough, it will also give to light some unexplained phenomena on various underlying diseases, as well as, pave the way to new development of cures and treatments.

This Article is written by Lena Butler, contributor of Test Country Articles.

#9 forests

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 07:40 PM

Epigenetics does not replace natural selection, it is explained by natural selection


As far as I know nobody is saying that epigenetics is going to completey replace natural selection. However some finds in epigenetics are completey incompatible with the modern synthesis

&is no way round it. That is why the modern synthesis (neodarwinism) needs to either be extended or revised.

According to neo-Darwinism any Lamarckian type mechanism or feedback is impossible and should not happen but it has been observed. I suggest reading the book evolution in four dimensions by E Jablonka where some of this information is documented or reading her paper that I linked above. If we are to accept the evidence for Lamarckism then we need to go beyond the modern synthesis, minor tweaking is not acceptable.

I am aware of what you said on another forum and I am still suspicious that the site you linked to, if not you, has a hidden agenda of at least exaggerating the idea that The theory of evolution is somehow fundamentally wrong. This is not true, while Darwin was not 100% correct his ideas were and still are good enough to only require tweaking as new information comes in and not a over turning of the theory completely.


The owner of that website is not trying to debunk or point out flaws in the theory of evolution, he is showing how recent finds show that the neo-darwinian paradigm is incomplete. There is still a large debate in evolution about which mechanisms cause evolution, this does not booster creationism and is no conspiracy it is the reality of what is going on amongst many scientists.

#10 Moontanman

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 10:08 AM

As far as I know nobody is saying that epigenetics is going to completey replace natural selection. However some finds in epigenetics are completey incompatible with the modern synthesis

&is no way round it. That is why the modern synthesis (neodarwinism) needs to either be extended or revised.

According to neo-Darwinism any Lamarckian type mechanism or feedback is impossible and should not happen but it has been observed. I suggest reading the book evolution in four dimensions by E Jablonka where some of this information is documented or reading her paper that I linked above. If we are to accept the evidence for Lamarckism then we need to go beyond the modern synthesis, minor tweaking is not acceptable.



The owner of that website is not trying to debunk or point out flaws in the theory of evolution, he is showing how recent finds show that the neo-darwinian paradigm is incomplete. There is still a large debate in evolution about which mechanisms cause evolution, this does not booster creationism and is no conspiracy it is the reality of what is going on amongst many scientists.



Ok, I'll take your word for that but you have to remember all scientific theories are incomplete, and as long as new information fits into the frame work of the original theory asserting it has been over turned is at best an exaggeration...

#11 Rade

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 10:10 AM

...According to neo-Darwinism any Lamarckian type mechanism or feedback is impossible and should not happen but it has been observed.

But, what you say here is not accurate. As you will read at this link, it was Darwin and not Lamarck who anticipated epigenetic influence, and it was Darwin not Lamarck who realized that natural selection influences epigenetic events, thus it is completely false to claim that "any Lamarckian type mechanism is impossible" based on Neo-Darwinism synthesis.

http://www.genomicro...-it-darwin-did/

So, to end the conversation, the clear answer to your OP title question, "Has Evolution Moved Beyond Neo-Darwinism" is NO, and it would be all of the authors of the references you cite that would tell you so.

#12 CraigD

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 09:09 PM

I am aware of what you said on another forum and I am still suspicious that the site you linked to, if not you, has a hidden agenda of at least exaggerating the idea that The theory of evolution is somehow fundamentally wrong.

Toward the Third Evolutionary Synthesis appears to be essentially the personal website of Gert Korthof, a provocative but well-trained, experienced biologist known for an both his opposition to religiously motivated attacks on science, intelligent design in particular, and his criticism of a tendency of biologist to be reluctant to consider areas in which Evolutionary Biology are incomplete. In 1997, he started the site Was Darwin Wrong?, which invited science-minded people to study the history and present state of Evolution Biology to reach the conclusion that some of Darwin’s hypotheses and guesses were right, some wrong.

The main pages of this site seem to me concisely and well written. In particular, this one describes what he sees at the 3 major syntheses of evolutionary biology:
  • 1st, ca 1859, Darwin’s work, dominant catch-phrase “natural selection”
  • 2nd, ca 1920-52, the inclusion of genetics prior to the discovery of the genetic role of DNA, commonly known as “Neo-Darwinism” and “The Modern Synthesis”
  • 3rd, 1953+, after the discoverey of DNA. Where we are now. What Korthof terms “The Extended Modern Synthesis”
According to this history of biology taxonomy of Korthof's, evolution moved beyond Neo-Darwinism ca 1960, into what I think we could reasonably term “Extended Neo-Darwinism”.

Edited by CraigD, 05 July 2012 - 03:14 PM.
Added missing link (no pun intended ;))


#13 Rade

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Posted 04 July 2012 - 07:59 AM

To CraigD:

Thank you, it is clear that Neo-Darwinism must have changed drastically after discovery of DNA by Watson-Crick in mid 1950s. To give the evolving theory of evolution developed by Darwin the new tag Modified Neo-Darwinism is fine with me, but alas, I do not think this is what the OP author of this thread was saying.

Rade

#14 forests

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Posted 05 July 2012 - 02:46 PM

So, to end the conversation, the clear answer to your OP title question, "Has Evolution Moved Beyond Neo-Darwinism" is NO, and it would be all of the authors of the references you cite that would tell you so.


Rade you are being dishonest in this post, the scientists who I quote I have personally spoken to some of them and they make it very clear that the answer is YES, evolution HAS moved beyond neo-Darwinism, how could you possibly try and make it seem to other way? The papers that I listed above clearly state that evolution has moved beyond neo-Darwinism due to recent discoveries in science. You are ignoring this becuase this is what happens when you clearly subscribe to a dogmatic framework and you choose to ignore any evidence against that view, hence you not even clicking on the cited papers. This is not how science works, science is not static or limited to a single framework of evolution.

Please see the paper by Eva Jablonka, in her own words on a summary of her paper:

Furthermore, under certain conditions, the mechanisms underlying epigenetic inheritance can also lead to saltational changes that reorganize the epigenome. These discoveries are clearly incompatible with the tenets of the Modern Synthesis, which denied any significant role for Lamarckian and saltational processes. In view of the data that support soft inheritance, as well as other challenges to the Modern Synthesis, it is concluded that that synthesis no longer offers a satisfactory theoretical framework for evolutionary biology.


I suggest you look up what the neo-Darwinian framework actually says. It says that any Lamarckian or saltational processes do not occur, but as shown we have overwelming evidence that they do and have occured, and this is why evolution has moved beyond neo-Darwinism. That is what the some of the scientists have told me in communications and what recent papers are showing. This evidence cannot be denied on the basis of your personal views.

#15 Rade

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Posted 06 July 2012 - 11:38 AM

To Forest:

Thank you for your reply. It is not my personal view that Jablonka and Lamb error in what they claim about Modern Synthesis as it relates to epigenetics and Neo-Larmarkian claims and what was claimed by Darwin, see here for example:

http://quod.lib.umic...959004.0002.003

Directly to the issue is this comment,

Although Jablonka and Lamb’s way of presenting the Modern Synthesis’ consensus view is not wrong, it
is incomplete and insufficiently analytic. Their presentation does not acknowledge the richness of what
biologists of the Modern Synthesis knew about genetic mutations. Rather, Jablonka and Lamb offer what I
would call a “naïve” interpretation of the Modern Synthesis’ paradigm (Merlin 2009), which is based on the
simplified and idealized representation of the mutation process in genetic population models and does not
take into consideration the mutational biases biologists of the Modern Synthesis readily admitted (see above,
Section 3).

Jablonka and Lamb also provide an ambiguous definition of the “inheritance of acquired characters,”
which is not antithetical with the Modern Synthesis’ fundamental ideas. Their understanding of
“inheritance of acquired characters” differs not only with the one August Weismann so strongly criticized
(Weismann 1892 [1883], 1893 [1892]) but also with Lamarck’s own conception of the origin and the
character of hereditary variation.


-- [EDIT] To Forest:

I would say that my view on this issue is very much in agreement with Pigliucci, as seen here:

%93The+Extended+Synthesis,+MIT+Press,+Cambridge,+Mass,+USA,+2010.&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESh9JfpmWB-W65d-mXsC9ksg9lP7cmtgLtayc3_hmmkxwbvXCaTHBvjdNKPB9XUpfB2rUub3q2P3JQkLCgLtlGrjLwJztZhC6r2mumpFgcpj5mPfmQ29zBjNrXey6UEI3RJ2Qp4l&sig=AHIEtbQQ6aRxhLDLsHuL98MoY3v9tbNVxw' class='bbc_url' title='External link' rel='nofollow external'>https://docs.google....MoY3v9tbNVxw

Toward this end, let me conclude that I would agree with you (and others you cite) that the historical term Neo-Darwinism is best replaced with the term "Extended Modern Synthesis".

Edited by Rade, 06 July 2012 - 02:35 PM.


#16 forests

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 01:57 PM

A very interesting paper which proposes different mechanisms to evolution than those of neo-Darwinism.


Abstract:

In the last 25 years, criticism of most theories advanced by Darwin and the neo-Darwinians has increased considerably, and so did their defense. Darwinism has become an ideology, while the most significant theories of Darwin were proven unsupportable. The critics advanced other theories instead of 'natural selection' and the survival of the fittest'. 'Saltatory ontogeny' and 'epigenesis' are such new theories proposed to explain how variations in ontogeny and novelties in evolution are created. They are reviewed again in the present essay that also tries to explain how Darwinians, artificially kept dominant in academia and in granting agencies, are preventing their acceptance. Epigenesis, the mechanism of ontogenies, creates in every generation alternative variations in a saltatory way that enable the organisms to survive in the changing environments as either altricial or precocial forms. The constant production of two such forms and their survival in different environments makes it possible, over a sequence of generations, to introduce changes and establish novelties--the true phenomena of evolution. The saltatory units of evolution remain far-from-stable structures capable of self-organization and self-maintenance (autopoiesis).


Paper:

Evolution by epigenesis: farewell to Darwinism, neo- and otherwise by Eugene Balon

Can read it free on: http://www.charliewa....net/darwin.pdf


Evolution by Epigenesis: Farewell to Darwinism, Neo- and Otherwise
Rivista di Biologia / Biology Forum 97 (2004), pp. 269-312.

Eugene K. Balon, Department of Organismal Biology, Ecology and
Evolution, and Institute of Ichthyology,
University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1, Canada


Any opinions about this paper will be useful as I am looking into these mechanisms at the moment. (Also if you are going to reply please don't call the author a creationist he wasn't, and yes we know Rivista di Biologia is not a mainstream journal. If you are going to attack please attack the evidence not the man. Cheers.

#17 Rade

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 06:07 PM

..Eugene K. Balon, Department of Organismal Biology, Ecology and Evolution, and Institute of Ichthyology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1, Canada....Any opinions about this paper will be useful as I am looking into these mechanisms at the moment. (Also if you are going to reply please don't call the author a creationist he wasn't)....

Forests, not sure what "mechanisms" presented by Balon you are "looking into", but you should know that Eugene Balon is a documented creationist, because according to the author of the following "list of Darwin skeptics", Balon agreed to allow his name to be added to his list, or was already a known creationist to the author:

http://www.rae.org/darwinskeptics.pdf

The only criteria to have your name placed on this list is that you disagree with this claim, what is called Darwinism: "The belief that evolution and common decent can account for the existence of all life".

Reading the paper I disagree with Balon on a number of issues (1) his definition of evolution (2) his definition of natural selection, (3) his definition of parturition, and then how he spins his unconventional understanding of these processes. I will agree not to call Balon a creationist in the future when he agrees to state in public that his name should be removed from Darwin Skeptics list, and that he clearly states that he does believe that evolution and comment decent can account for life on earth.

Do you have any questions on this paper I suggested you read, given that it directly addresses your interest in knowing if evolution as studied by Biologists has moved beyond Neo-Darwinism and offers a different point of view than found in your OP ?

%93The+Extended+Synthesis,+MIT+Press,+Cambridge,+Mass,+USA,+2010.&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESh9JfpmWB-W65d-mXsC9ksg9lP7cmtgLtayc3_hmmkxwbvXCaTHBvjdNKPB9XUpfB2rUub3q2P3JQkLCgLtlGrjLwJztZhC6r2mumpFgcpj5mPfmQ29zBjNrXey6UEI3RJ2Qp4l&sig=AHIEtbQQ6aRxhLDLsHuL98MoY3v9tbNVxw' class='bbc_url' title='External link' rel='nofollow external'>https://docs.google....MoY3v9tbNVxw