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The Hopeful Monster contradicts neo-Darwinism


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Showing 1-25 of 48 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 9, 2013 3:27:24 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Mar 27, 2013 8:21:32 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 9, 2013 6:04:33 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 9, 2013 6:05:48 AM PST
Ambulocetus says:
On p. 47 of this article, the author mentions endosymbiosis and polyploidy as mechanisms which can create "hopeful monsters." Both of these mechanisms have been understood and accepted by scientists for decades now, and both concepts are compatible with the neo-Darwinian Modern Synthesis.

On p. 48, the authors discuss Cirripedes (barnacles). The authors point to research that some barnacles lack a particular HOX gene (a sort of gene governing embryonic body formation) called abdominal-a. The barnacles which first had this gene deleted would thus have been hopeful monsters--and the mechanism behind it would be gene deletion, which has been investigated by geneticists for decades.

And then there's p. 49: "I was surprised to see that historians have classified saltationism [i.e., non-gradualistic evolution that involves "hopeful monsters"] as an 'anti-Darwinian theory.' I am afraid that this term could be misleading, because saltationists, like Darwin and the advocates of the Synthetic Theory, want to understand the mechanisms of evolution using scientific methods. So 'anti-Darwinians' should not be confused with people, such as creationists, that see Darwin as their opponent."

The neo-Darwinian Modern Synthesis, formed in the 1940s, brought together Mendelian insights about genes, Darwin's theories of natural selection and common descent, and early 20th century insights from statistics, population genetics, laboratory genetics, and other fields. It is the foundational paradigm of the life sciences even today. This does not mean that it resists being amended in light of new evidence and new phenomena. Just look at inclusive fitness, symbiogenesis, and horizontal gene transfer.

Hopeful monsters, if they exist as a viable addition to evolution theory, are still an ADDITION to evolution theory. But given the author's inability to provide a coherent, non-question-begging definition of "saltation" or "hopeful monsters," and given that the mechanisms which supposedly create such "monsters" are not different in kind from mechanisms which create only slight or moderate phenotypic changes, I imagine that this author's arguments will alter evolutionary theory much less than he seems to think that they will.

Posted on Jan 9, 2013 6:17:13 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Mar 27, 2013 8:21:40 AM PDT]

Posted on Jan 9, 2013 9:27:38 AM PST
how does the cookie monster fit in here ??

Posted on Jan 9, 2013 12:00:03 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Apr 1, 2013 7:28:27 PM PDT]

Posted on Jan 9, 2013 1:32:51 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 9, 2013 4:18:28 PM PST
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Posted on Jan 9, 2013 10:07:23 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Mar 27, 2013 8:21:48 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 11, 2013 5:14:44 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 11, 2013 5:15:31 AM PST
Ambulocetus says:
"'"Hopeful monsters are organisms with a profound mutant phenotype that have the potential to establish a new evolutionary lineage.'"

That's just the problem. ANY mutation, gene-duplication, or instance of polyploidy can "establish a new evolutionary lineage," so this cannot be what makes a "hopeful monster" special. The differentiation between ordinary mutations and hopeful monsters, then, must be in "a profound mutant phenotype." But how is "profound" being defined? How big a mutation counts as a macromutation?

It should be realized that macromutational/saltationist/hopeful monster theories (basically, three words for the same thing) have a long history, dating all the way back to the 19th century. In many forms, the basic idea is that an entirely new set of traits can appear out of nowhere which suit an organism to its environment--a member of one genus lays an egg, and out of that egg hatches a member of a completely new genus; or, coming out of that egg is an organism of the same genus, but which now has echolocation, or wings instead of arms.

This older idea of macromutation has no evidence whatsoever supporting it. Evolution simply does not work in that way. REAL "macromutations" happen all the time, but they tend to be things like an embryo without a head or a fruit fly with legs where its antennae should be. Such macromutations could conceivably yield useful characters, if the organism having them isn't stillborn--the Cirripede "abdominal-a" gene may be one such example--but the larger the mutation, the more likely it will have disastrous consequences for the organism.

In short, Thiessen is trying to make a distinction between ordinary mutations and "hopeful monsters" without ever rigorously defining the latter. That dog don't hunt.

Posted on Jan 13, 2013 2:04:57 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Mar 27, 2013 8:21:58 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 13, 2013 7:37:24 AM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Jan 13, 2013 8:49:40 AM PST
Drifter claims: "There are neo-Darwinists"

Please provide your definition of the term "neo-Darwinist" and name more than one living neo-Darwinist who meets this definition.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 13, 2013 10:58:22 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Mar 27, 2013 8:22:04 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 13, 2013 11:49:51 AM PST
Are you suggesting that Jerry Coyne does not accept evodevo or epigenetics? Because that is how I interpret what you wrote.

Posted on Jan 14, 2013 1:00:47 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Mar 27, 2013 8:22:09 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2013 5:05:38 AM PST
The one setting up straw men is you. I have read Coyne's blog, seen him give talks and met with him about 2 years ago. I basically agree with him about the importance of mutation and selection, but not with your mischaracterization of his views. You see, even epigenetic phenomena must evolve by a process that includes mutation and selection.

Posted on Jan 14, 2013 5:13:16 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Mar 27, 2013 8:22:18 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2013 6:26:27 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 14, 2013 6:27:39 AM PST
Ambulocetus says:
"Whilst evolution is true, the neo-Darwinian interpretation has always been a straw man. It sets up a false picture of evolution, being mutation and natural selection and virtually nothing else."

Utter nonsense. Even before 1970, the modern synthesis also included gene flow and genetic drift. By 1970, horizontal gene transfer, inclusive fitness, and symbiogenesis were also quite comfy in evolutionary biology.
POPULATIONS, SPECIES, AND EVOLUTION: An Abridgment of Animal Species & Evolution.

"If creationists were taught all the processes behind evolution, rather than just mutation, then perhaps they would accept evolution."

You clearly haven't argued with very many creationists. They will not accept any evolutionary theory whatsoever, because 1) it contradicts that one book in the Bible with the talking snake; 2) it leaves no place for God--kinda like the germ theory of disease or Newton's Laws of Motion; and 3) it makes it so that there are no clear-cut dividing lines between human beings and other kinds of organisms.

If creationists are not comfortable with mutation, gene flow, and crossing-over generating trait novelty and natural selection, sexual selection, and genetic drift culling that trait novelty, then they are not comfortable with how nature works, plain and simple. Ginning up new evolution mechanisms won't help the problem.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2013 6:55:15 AM PST
Excellent points Daniel.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2013 7:21:24 AM PST
Gwaithmir says:
Daniel Dickson-LaPrade said: "If creationists are not comfortable with mutation, gene flow, and crossing-over generating trait novelty and natural selection, sexual selection, and genetic drift culling that trait novelty, then they are not comfortable with how nature works, plain and simple. Ginning up new evolution mechanisms won't help the problem."

>In regards to creationists, I fully agree. However, wouldn't the open discussions of new evolutionary mechanisms serve to pique the curiosity and advance the learning of impartial readers here?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2013 7:52:37 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 14, 2013 7:55:56 AM PST
Drifter, I think you are confusing the variance in traits due to epigenetic phenomena with the variance in epigenetic phenomena across species. The former does not involve mutation, but the later certainly does.

NeoDarwinists (I suppose I am in that camp) certainly do not ignore other evolutionary processes besides selection and mutation. You, on the other hand, don't seem to understand their importance. These processes underlie the evolution of both epigenetic phenomena and eve-devo.

As for the idea that NeoDarwinists are to blame for the rise of creationism. Complete nonsense. I won't comment more on this as Daniel has done a good job debunking this idea.

I can understand you wanting to be an iconoclast, but you seem driven more by your dislike for Darwin than by any understanding of the evidence. I suggest you change the direction of your argument style. Instead of simply pushing the opinions of some authorities with whom you agree, and creating strawmen of the one's you don't like (e.g. neo-Darwinism ignored all of the other evolutionary processes), you might consider presenting empirical evidence that epigenetic phenomena do not evolve by mutation and natural selection. If you can do that then you might win over some converts.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2013 9:26:18 AM PST
"According to evo-devo scientists by leaving developmental biology out of the neo-Darwinian synthesis has left evolutionary biology open to attacks by creationists."

Okay I will comment on this sentence, mainly because it is so poorly written. Here are some possible corrections:

1. According to evo-devo scientists, leaving developmental biology out of the neo-Darwinian synthesis has left evolutionary biology open to attacks by creationists.

2. According to evo-devo scientists, by leaving developmental biology out of the neo-Darwinian synthesis, neo-Darwinians have left evolutionary biology open to attacks by creationists.

Please feel free to edit your own writing on rational wiki with either of these sentences or another one that is grammatically correct. Cheers.

Posted on Jan 14, 2013 10:34:05 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Mar 27, 2013 8:22:28 AM PDT]

Posted on Jan 14, 2013 10:38:56 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Mar 27, 2013 8:22:33 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2013 11:17:05 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 14, 2013 11:31:30 AM PST
Apparently you do you understand the difference between modes of inheritance vs. modes of evolution. This is evidence of non-DNA inheritance of an acquired trait. This is NOT evidence of an epigenetic phenomenon that evolved without mutation and natural selection.

You need to think about how this epigenetic phenomenon evolved, not how the phenotype that results from the epigenetic phenomenon is inherited.

I think these types of misunderstandings may underlie a lot of the disagreements you find in this forum.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2013 12:31:36 PM PST
"You are mistaken Erik, I am not part of rationalwiki and do not edit on any wiki sites."

I am sorry, I thought I remembered you writing that you were working on non-darwinian entries there. I must have been mistaken.
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Discussion in:  Science forum
Participants:  12
Total posts:  48
Initial post:  Jan 9, 2013
Latest post:  Jan 17, 2013

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