What causes evolution?

See also: The irony and confusion of molecular epigenetics. This is a follow-up

Re: Epistasis and Allele Specificity in the Emergence of a Stable Polymorphism in Escherichia coli

Abstract excerpt: “Ecological opportunities promote population divergence into coexisting lineages.”

My comment: I’ve attempted to discuss the change in this position, which is stated above — from previous claims about mutations and evolution to claims that ecological opportunities enable ecological adaptations associated with mutations. My attempts have failed for reasons that I think are exemplified in the following exchanges.

Sonny Williams: Kohl writes, “Richard Lenski’s group has all but abandoned the concept of mutations that somehow cause evolution.” This goes so far beyond Kohl’s frequent misrepresentation that it amounts to a blatant lie. Why do we permit someone who knowingly and repeatedly lies in posts to remain a member of this Yahoo discussion group?

Jay R. Feierman: Sonny, a lie is saying something that you know is false is true. If Kohl truly believes that Richard Lenski’s group “has all but abandoned the concept of mutations that somehow cause evolution” [sic] is a true statement, it is not lying. I actually don’t know what that phrase in quotes means because the grammar doesn’t make sense. I also don’t think that anyone believes that “mutations cause evolution.”

You can find many times when others have used the phrase: “has all but abandoned” in a google search. Feierman’s focus on my grammar is tactical. He knows that Lenski’s position has changed and knows the change conflicts with Feierman’s ridiculous stated belief that:  Random mutations are the substrates upon which directional natural selection acts. Thus, while Feierman did not say that “mutations cause evolution,” it is what he has clearly implied for several decades. The ridiculous claim that “mutations cause evolution”  is also implied in these statements from others…

Mutations are the ultimate source of heritable variation for evolution.

Mutations and genetic recombination provide the variation that fuels adaptation.

… and in the book title: Mutation-Driven Evolution

None of these claims are supported by experimental evidence. They are the claims typically made by population geneticists. The change in Lenski’s position, and what appears to be the change in position of Dominique Schneider, who is the senior author of “Epistasis and Allele Specificity in the Emergence of a Stable Polymorphism in Escherichia coli” is clear —  in this excerpt: “…the ability of the S lineage to invade and coexist with the L lineage depended on both the ecological opportunity and synergistic interactions…

What causes evolution? There is across-species experimental evidence that ecological variation links the epigenetic landscape to the physical landscape of DNA in the organized genomes of all extant animal species. That’s obviously because epigenetic changes to DNA enable the maintenance of synergistic interactions among co-existing organisms in species from microbes to man. Therefore, the question arises: Does anyone know how mutations might lead to a stable polymorphism in any species?

The reason I asked that question was because Feierman had previously stated: Random mutations are the substrates upon which directional natural selection acts. Feierman’s reply was a  link to this article on mutations and evolution. Pictorial examples of moths and of sickle-cell disease misrepresent biologically-based cause and effect, but misrepresentations are all that people like Feierman have left.

I addressed the misrepresentations in an article I submitted that is currently under review. Feierman removed the next paragraph from my response to his link about mutations and evolution.

I wrote: The human sickle cell variant and the moth color morphs both exemplify how ecological variation and natural selection of nutrients results in sexual selection that involves the pheromone-controlled physiology of reproduction. Those facts have become clear with what has been learned about the importance of vitamin D to different human populations –especially where malaria is endemic — and also what’s been learned about the epigenetic effects of lead- and manganese-contaminated leaves in moth populations.


My attempts to convey accurate information about biologically-based cause and effect have been thwarted by the moderator of the ISHE’s human ethology group. It seems unlikely that Feierman will ever allow the dissemination of any accurate information from me, and that he will continue to prevent discussion of any aspect of my model. However, two comments from him are all that’s necessary to reveal the nature of  his character and the change in his position.

1) Random mutations are the substrates upon which directional natural selection acts.

2) I also don’t think that anyone believes that “mutations cause evolution.

Those comments may be a fitting end to my participation on the ISHE’s yahoo group. Feierman’s behavior is so contemptible that I can only hope new ISHE leadership will end his tenure as the yahoo group’s moderator.

Nancy Segal and Jan Havlicek are now on the ISHE Board of Trustees. Both have expertise in genetics and olfaction. If they allow him to continue his reign of academic suppression, the ISHE’s position will continue to become clearer than it has already become since publication of the award-winning review: Human pheromones: integrating neuroendocrinology and ethology, which I co-authored with ethologists from Vienna. The article has been cited 78 times, but less than 5 times by anyone I know to be a member of ISHE.

We wrote: ” Human pheromones have more potential than any other social environmental sensory stimuli to influence physiology and, therefore, behavior.” Experimental evidence  in species from  microbes to man will continues to confirm that fact, whether or not people like Feierman allow others to learn anything new.

If the ISHE allows Feierman to continue as moderator, their position will become better known with each new review I publish.

Ignoring biological facts does not make them go away; it just makes the people who ignore them appear to be ignorant. Since I know that some of the people who are ignoring the biological facts are not ignorant, it seems that they want others to remain ignorant because people, like Feierman, who should know about the biological facts, don’t.

Author: James Kohl

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