Wednesday, November 15, 2006

In That Stack of Papers, A Quiet Revolution

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published: mercredi 15 novembre 2006 15:07:18

A friend who works at a national biomedical facility told me recently that he now finds it impossible to keep up with all the scientific literature challenging neo-Darwinism (i.e., textbook evolutionary theory). "The stuff just piles up in my office," he said. "I glance at the abstracts, download the pdfs, but can't read it all." We agreed that during 2005-2006, while the intelligent design controversy has been soaking up headlines and media scrutiny, leading evolutionary theoreticians themselves have been quietly uttering heresy in the halls of Darwin. It's easier to misbehave, you know, when someone else (ID) is really acting up and drawing off all the attention.

Here's an example, from the heap of hundreds (no kidding). Graham Budd is a theoretician at the University of Uppsala who thinks hard about the problem of macroevolution. In his new paper, "On the origin and evolution of major morphological characters," Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society 81 (2006):609-28, Budd begins by arguing that standard microevolutionary theory doesn't work for the origin of higher-level (body plan) characters, or what he calls "compound characters":

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