Evolutionist or adaptationist?

Dobzhansky, T. (1973). Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution [link opens pdf]. The American Biology Teacher(March), 125–129. Dobzhansky begins, ‘‘There is, of course, nothing conscious or intentional in the action of natural selection.’’ Instead,

Natural selection is at one and the same time a blind and creative process. Only a creative and blind process could produce, on the one hand, the tremendous biologic success that is the human species and, on the other, forms of adaptedness as narrow and as constraining as those of the overspecialized fungus, beetle, and flies mentioned above (p. 127).”

Nei, M. (2013). Mutation-Driven Evolution.

“Selective advantage of the mutation is determined by the type of DNA change, and therefore natural selection is an evolutionary process initiated by mutation. It does not have any creative power in contrast to the statements made by some authors ( p. 196).”

Wilson, D.S. (2007).  Evolution for Everyone. ”

I am an evolutionist, which means that I use the principles of evolution to understand the world around me. I would be an evolutionary biologist if I restricted myself to the topics typically associated with biology, but I include all things human along with the rest of life. That makes me an evolutionist without any qualifiers. I and my fellow evolutionists study the length and breadth of creation, from the origin of life to religion (p. 1).”

Kohl, J.V. (unpublished).

“Nothing about mutation-initiated natural selection or mutation-driven evolution makes sense in the light of biology. Creation of species diversity is obviously due to ecological variations and nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled ecological adaptations.”

Are you an evolutionist or adaptationist? What’s the difference?

See for review:

Let’s Start Calling Ourselves Evolutionists!

Post: February 23, 2014 8:41 am
Author: David Sloan Wilson

Excerpt: The word evolution became tainted during the first half of the 20th century when it was invoked to justify social inequality and ruthless competition, an association that still colors the term “Social Darwinism”. The term “group selection” became tainted when it was widely rejected during the 1960s. The terms “sociobiology” and “evolutionary psychology” also became tainted in their own ways.

My comment: Evolution, group selection, sociobiology,  evolutionary psychology and evolutionary biology are words and terms that became tainted for the same reason.  No experimental evidence supports their biologically implausible representations of cause and effect.  The population genetics data generated from studies of how mutations might cause species diversity have not been ecologically validated. For comparison, the direct link from ecological variation in the availability of nutrients to epigenetic effects on genes and ecological adaptations is clear.

Ecological factors make sense of population genetics data. Stories told by former evolutionary biologists, like David Sloan Wilson, have never made sense. They have told us nothing about “…the length and breadth of creation, from the origin of life to religion.”   Biologists tell us about experimentally established biologist facts. Evolutionists tell us stories.  That means we will see many other former evolutionary biologists begin to claim they are evolutionists, unless they are willing to incorporate biological facts into their stories. Why won’t evolutionists incorporate biological facts?

The nutrient-dependent hemoglobin variants of sickle cell disease in areas where malaria is endemic make sense in the same context as the change from fawn to peppered color moths. The color change was caused by ingestion of lead and manganese laden leaves. Organisms are what they eat, and what they eat is metabolized to species-specific pheromones. The pheromones control the physiology of reproduction, which means that ecological variation in the availability of nutrients or ingestion of contaminated foods causes nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled ecological adaptations. The ecological adaptations are manifested in the morphological and behavioral phenotypes of species from microbes to man.

Evolutionary theorists who thought they were evolutionary biologists but who now want to be called evolutionists can be compared to an ecologists who now want to be called adaptationists.  The beliefs of evolutionists and adaptationists can then be compared to determine the differences in their beliefs about cause and effect.

In the context of ecological variation and adaptations manifested in biophysically constrained species diversity, evolutionists who believe in mutation-driven evolution believe in pseudoscience because no experimental evidence supports any claim associated with mutation-driven evolution. That explains Masatoshi Nei’s constraint-breaking mutation approach in his book “Mutation-Driven Evolution.” [He] says Darwin never proved natural selection is the driving force of evolution — because it isn’t.”  His ideas about mutation-driven evolution can be compared to the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology’s perspectives on biophysically constrained ecological adaptations.

The problem with calling an evolutionary biologist or mutationist (like Nei) or anyone else who might want to be called an evolutionist is this: Ecological variation and controlled adaptations underlie species diversity and constraint-breaking mutations do not. That fact leaves people with no choice when it comes to what — or who — they call an evolutionist, since evolutionists and adaptationists can be compared. Evolutionists must be called pseudoscientists because they cannot accurately represent biological facts. Adaptationists must be called scientists because they support their claims about the biological basis of behavior with experimental evidence.

What will you call an evolutionist who has no biologically plausible ecologically validated theory or who has invoked constraint-breaking mutations as the driving force of mutation-driven evolution? What will others call an evolutionist without a biologically plausible ecologically validated theory who does not invoke constraint-breaking mutations, or something equally ridiculous as the driving force of evolution? They certainly will not continue to call that person an evolutionary biologist. That explains why David Sloan Wilson suggests that the term evolutionist be adopted for use by anyone else who realizes there is no experimental evidence to support their claims.

The question arises: What Should Schools Teach? Masatoshi Nei wants schools to teach mutation-driven evolution. “…it’s his natural selection-busting theory, which Nei developed in the ’80s and expanded on in the 2013 book Mutation-Driven Evolution, that the researcher wants to see embraced, cited and taught in schools.” Adaptationists understand the problems that arise when students are taught to think in terms of constraint-breaking mutations rather than to consider the biological facts of ecological variation and ecological adaptations.

Here’s the problem with a suggestion on how to move forward: “…cognitive biases or heuristics — are numerous and innate. Pervasive, they affect almost everything we do, from the choice of what to wear, to judgments of moral character, to how we vote in presidential elections. We can never totally escape them, but we can be more aware of them, and, just maybe, take efforts to minimize their influence.” Teaching students about mutation-driven evolution instead of ecological adaptations biases them and may make them unable to think clearly. We can minimize the influence of evolutionists by teaching students to ask questions about biologically-based cause and effect. Questions will help them avoid the cognitive biases of their teachers who were taught not to question their teachers, but to simply believe in mutation-driven evolution.

Today’s teachers were taught this long before adaptationists and most other people realized there was no such thing as mutation-driven evolution. The next generation will be taught what is known about nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled biophysical constraints and ecological adaptations. Darwin repeatedly tried to tell people that nutrient-dependent ‘conditions of life’ must be considered before natural selection is considered in the context of the Origin of Species. Indeed, Darwin may well have been the first ecologist who could claim he was an adaptationist. Whether or not that claim would stand up in court is a matter to be decided by others. But the decision should probably be made based on what is known about the biology of behavior and the likelihood that it is mutation-driven.

What are the four basic principles of evolution as outlined under Darwin’s theory of evolution?

Darwin’s argument for natural selection:

1. Variation. Organisms (within populations) exhibit individual variation in appearance and behavior. These variations may involve body size, hair color, facial markings, voice properties, or number of offspring. On the other hand, some traits show little to no variation among individuals – for example, number of eyes in vertebrates.

2. Inheritance. Some traits are consistently passed on from parent to offspring. Such traits are heritable, other traits are strongly influenced by environmental conditions and show weak heritability.

3. High rate of population growth. Most populations have more offspring each year than local resources can support leading to a struggle for existence. Each generation experiences substantial mortality.

4. Differential survival and reproduction. Individuals possessing traits well suited for the struggle for local resources will survive more and reproduce more than others and thus contribute more offspring to the next generation.

My comment: Natural selection of nutrients causes variation in

1) body size, hair color, facial markings, voice properties, or number of offspring.

Metabolism of nutrients  to species-specific pheromones causes

2) inheritance of traits that are strongly influenced by environmental conditions.

Nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled reproduction ensures a link from

 3) local resources involved in a struggle for existence.

Nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled reproduction ensures that

4)  Individuals possessing traits well suited for the struggle for local resources will survive more and reproduce more than others and thus contribute more offspring to the next generation.

Shouldn’t students be taught those facts?

Author: James Kohl

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