Evolution: Maybe It's Not Just for the Fittest Anymore
March 28, 2013 7:48 AM Subscribe
Is it time to put natural selection in its place?
posted by saulgoodman (51 comments total)
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Jello Biafra once famously wrote that "If evolution is outlawed, only outlaws will evolve.
" But while it likely comes as no surprise to specialists working in the field or to those who've been following developments in evolutionary biology closely, there's an emerging view among experts that Darwin's view of natural selection as the primary driver of speciation and evolutionary change may be incorrect or at least drastically overstated. It's long been understood that non-adaptive evolutionary mechanisms like "genetic drift
" and random mutation also play non-trivial roles in evolutionary processes, but a recent study
(link to abstract with full-text PDF available) casts new doubts on the primary role of natural selection, finding that "Neutral models, in which genetic change arises through random variation without fitness differences have proven remarkably successful in describing observed patterns of biodiversity."
Meanwhile, America's obsession with competitive fitness as virtue
remains a conspicuous feature of the culture despite the evolving science of evolution, and newer scientific fields like Evolutionary Psychology
continue to operate under the assumption that adaptive fitness is the primary driver of evolutionary processes.