Sunday, January 15, 2012
Chapter 5 Lennox Dissection
I am going to have fun here. In chapter 5, Lennox is brave and takes on, as a mathematician, the quantitative statistical corollaries of the Modern Evolutionary synthesis, as described by renowned Biologists such as Richard Dawkins, and finds them severely lacking in quantitative believability. I pretty much agree with him on every detail except the conclusion. Clearly, the biologists, have Occam Razored out plausible naturalistic explanations for the yawning gaps between what and how speciation happens as explained by the synthesis, and what is observed in both the geologic record(speciation is way more jumpy than the synthesis explains) and what is observed as a result of artificial selection(lack of speciation even after continued selective breeding). Lennox completes the obvious mistake of the biologists who decided on the synthesis and those who fail to overturn it, by Occam Razoring out even the mechanism that has the most scientific credibility and replacing it with the simplest explanation of all, a God designer. The plausible naturalistic explanations are not mentioned in Lennoxes book, and to be fair, they are not mentioned in the God Delusion either, except perhaps briefly as something to mock. The naturalistic explanations that would each close the yawning gap of macro evolution are as follows - horizontal gene transfer, Neo-Lamarckism ie. ways that the environment can have direct baring on how, when,and what type of mutations happen, group selection theories - more important with some gregarious species than others, design style programs programmed into the DNA or in the subconscious of brains, and selective breaching of the Weismann barrier. Some or all of these are postulated by some biologists some of the time, but the burden of proof is extremely onerous, and experiments are notoriously hard to design, and are expensive without much chance of "pay dirt", especially if biologist peers keep ruling them inconclusive even if the data lends to these alternative explanations. The statistical issues that Lennox brings up through reductionism are real, and the corollary should be for the biologists to shift the burden of proof to a requirement to prove that some of these other explanations are not happening during macro speciation.