Is Neo-Darwinism on the way out?

Whew. Been a while since I stepped foot in here. Not much has changed, it seems (although Eddie’s posts are all hidden…I won’t ask).

Anyway. Quick Q. Perhaps you can give me an A. :slight_smile: What are your thoughts on this?

In case you don’t know, the author of the website promotes a form of evolution. Not evolution through natural selection acting on random mutations (Neo-Darwinian), but evolution by means of several other mechanisms (transposition, symbiogenesis, etc., what he calls “Evolution 2.0”).


It’s a mess.

It provides more evidence that an obsessive fixation on the word “Darwin” and its derivatives produces a lack of clarity.

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Jim Stump wrote about the conference (which he attended) at BioLogos:

Key paragraph:

I learned a lot of cool science at the meeting, but did not come away feeling that any progress had been made in either overthrowing the dominant paradigm or establishing a new one. There were very few empirical details that were in question, so it was mostly a matter of how these facts are organized and conceptualized. Those kinds of disagreements are rarely settled by offering more empirical evidence. The opposing positions are ways of looking at things, paradigms, or even worldviews.


Thanks for that. I had not seen it. Interesting indeed.


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Perry Marshall, the writer of Evolution 2.0 is speaking of the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis, which is a conglomeration of a number of new ideas in evolutionary theory. Perry is a good guy, (I met him at the Biologos Conference) but is not a biologist. As you will find from Jim’s article on the Royal Society meeting, the debate is more about a philosophical world view than about any disagreements over the science involved. The EES is simply Darwinian evolution evolving, as most good scientific theories tend to do.

If you would like to see another treatment of this topic, here is a link to a paper published last year on the subject.

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“Evolution 2.0” sponsored links (advertisements) come up in my facebook feed all the time. LOL!

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Perry is an expert at marketing. And other things.

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But I suppose not research!

To be fair, his book is the culmination of 10 years of research. I would not dismiss it so cavalierly. :slight_smile:

BioLogos gets emails literally every week from people who have self-published books on faith and science that are the “culmination of years of research”, and almost none of them warrant any attention. I’m not dismissing Marshall’s book outright, but the fact that he is a non-expert and the book is basically self-published should be warning signs. They should merit a lot of extra scrutiny.


Exactly. Scrutinize it. Critique it. But don’t just dismiss it. :slight_smile:

Non-experts can have good ideas too, and often bring up concerns or ask questions that would never have occurred to the expert (because he or she is too set in his or her ways or some such reason). Having read about half the book at this point, a lot of it is just reiterating biological discoveries made in the past 100 years (the research of Barbara McClintock, for example) and how they relate to evolutionary science. He feels as though these discoveries have been largely ignored by the establishment in their formulations of the modern synthesis. @Sy_Garte is correct, in that he appears to advocate a form of the EES.

Not saying he’s right, just saying that by all accounts it looks as though he’s done his homework. :slight_smile:

That sounds good at first, but it’s impossible in practice. I could definitely be wrong but I think that @BradKramer is pointing to the fact that the idea-sphere is littered with all sorts of stuff, much of it absolute dreck (especially when it comes to evolution). Any particular publication or website or piece of text must earn scrutiny and critique. Self-published books written by non-experts should almost always be ignored. In fact, all of us are ignoring lots of them right now. This is necessary practically, and wise intellectually.

I have not read Marshall’s book. I don’t know whether it merits attention. I do know that its mere existence is not nearly enough to determine whether it merits attention.


I have my reasons to dismiss it. It appears to be another ID book. I think it takes a lot of chutzpah to call your book “Evolution 2.0.”

Does this guy do research and publish in a peer-reviewed science journal?

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@AdCaelumEo So, as someone who is also a non-expert, I simply don’t have the ability to tell the merits of someone’s argument. So if someone says they’ve singlehandedly discovered a major revolution in evolutionary thought, I have no intrinsic way to judge that claim, scientifically speaking.

But, as @beaglelady is saying, there are some “warning signs” that can help us determine whether a book like this has merit, without knowing any of the science itself.

  1. Does the writer make a grandiose claim?
  2. Does the writer have the credentials to support making such a claim?
  3. Is the work self-published? If so, is it vetted by experts who are currently working in the field?
  4. Does the writer make dismissive or overblown comments about the work of the mainstream scientific community?
  5. Does the writer defend her/his perspective by basically saying, “I have more common sense than the experts”?

These are the criteria I use in my own work.


Excellent criteria. I have a very good baloney detector, but I also went to the page for this book and had a sniff around. I didn’t like what I found.

I doubt he would identify with the ID movement. As has already been said, it’s basically a presentation of the extended evolutionary synthesis. If that’s “heresy” around here, then I can’t help you.

Again, to be fair, he has a chapter on irreducible complexity. I haven’t read it yet, so I don’t know if he’s in favor or against, but I get the feeling I know the answer already. :wink:

Looking at the book’s page, it seems to be very “intelligent designish.” I mean, even the full title of the book is “Evolution 2.0: Breaking the Deadlock Between Darwin and Design.” There are other clues as well.

But…you are free to enjoy the book.


The EES is hardly heresy around here, but that term can be used to cover a wide range of views, from those that are completely standard evolutionary theory these days to those that are decidedly fringe. Symbiogenesis as a critical step in the history of life on this planet is in the former category; symbiogenesis as an important ongoing evolutionary driver of novelty is at the latter end of the spectrum, I believe.


Hi Brad,

Those are all well and good, but for science, there’s one that is more important than any of those: does the writer produce any new data? It’s the simplest way to distinguish science from pseudoscience.

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