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No. 28: Jul-Aug 1983

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Evolution By Numbers

The following paragraph is taken from a letter to Nature by a "practising geneticist."

"In the discussion in your columns about the application of quantitative methodology based on the study of evolutionary processes to the analysis of the development of human culture, there is an unquestioned assumption on both sides of that issue that quantitative theory, as expounded by practitioners such as Fisher, Haldane, Wright, Cavalli-Sforza and Maynard Smith, has been successful in illuminating and explaining the process of biological evolution and the genetic relationships between species. As far as I know, there is no evidence to support this assumption. Indeed, there is a vast number of observations unaccounted for in the extant quantitative evolutionary theories. Many of these observations (inducible mutation systems, rapid genomic changes involving mobile genetic elements, programmed changes in chromosome structure) challenge the most fundamental assumptions which these evolutionary theories make about the mechanisms of hereditary variation and the fixation of genetic differences."

(Shapiro, James A.; "Evolution by Numbers," Nature, 303:196, 1983.)

Comments. The "observations unaccounted for" are buried in such obscure journals as S.B. ges. Morph. Physio. (Munchen). It is pretty obvious that the Sourcebook Project is just scratching the surface.

From Science Frontiers #28, JUL-AUG 1983. 1983-2000 William R. Corliss