The ‘How Many Theories Of Evolution Are There?’ Thread

Certain commentators seem surprisingly agitated about pursuing the idea that there is no ‘theory of evolution’. Some mean there is no single theory, although on examination the things they see as separate are frequently simply different components of the same broad process. Or, alternatively, they are referring to evolution in other senses, or in non-biological contexts. Others say there is no theory at all, as if that against which they argue does not even exist.

A theme has emerged that TSZ is somehow suppressing their concerns. So, in the spirit of suppressive dictatorships everywhere, here is a thread for people to say whatever they want about this vital topic. Hopefully without pasting in vast swathes of something already posted elsewhere – a link will suffice.

Here, for my part, is my very broad summary of ‘the’ theory of evolution: Genetic changes (mutation, recombination) are subject to a sampling process, correlated to a greater or lesser extent with their effects on survival and reproduction. This process leads to a simultaneous increase and decrease in frequency for the variants in the population, through to, in the limit, extinction or fixation of a variant. This process proceeds indefinitely, subject to the fuel of new variation. All commonly accepted*** ‘theories of [biological***] evolution’ of which I am aware place emphasis on different components, influences and consequences of this basic process. None, so far as I am aware, are at odds with it, which might be expected if there really were ‘different theories’.

*** The caveats are inserted to try to head off anticipated ‘gotchas’, in a possibly forlorn attempt to reduce opportunities to make semantic capital out of a phrase whose intent should be easy enough to understand without them. This is not ‘biologism’: the ToE which upsets people is (are?) the generally accepted biological one.

323 thoughts on “The ‘How Many Theories Of Evolution Are There?’ Thread

  1. BK: How many viruses have you observed, Mung, in order to come to this conclusion? What methodology did you use to make these observations?

    I’ve never actually observed a virus. Have you? What methodology did you use to make the observation?

  2. If I were properly skeptical I’d deny that viruses actually exist, lol! I’ve certainly never seen one.

    What is the operational definition of a virus?

  3. Mung: I’ve never actually observed a virus. Have you? What methodology did you use to make the observation?

    So you have never observed a virus of any type, species alive or not. So your claim was……wait for it….. meaningless…..priceless!

  4. BK: So you have never observed a virus of any type, species alive or not. So your claim was……wait for it….. meaningless…..priceless!

    What claim?

    Are you the one who claimed that exo-nucleases are out-side the cell? That has to be right up there with the most ignorant claims I’ve ever seen here at TSZ.

    But you didn’t make that claim, right?

  5. Mung: Define reproduce. Show me how, according to that definition, viruses reproduce.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reproduction

    Here is something basic for you Mung.

    http://www.daviddarling.info/encyclopedia/V/viral_reproduction.html

    Mung:
    If I were properly skeptical I’d deny that viruses actually exist, lol! I’ve certainly never seen one.

    What is the operational definition of a virus?

    I’m sure you’ve never seen a single water molecule either…..are you skeptical one exists?

    I’m sure you’ve never seen an electron…..are you skeptical that they exist?

    I’m sure you’ve never seen a single atom of gold are also skeptical that gold even exists?

    Your appearance of desperation (based on your most recent comments) seem like a channeling of Frankie. Are you sure want to go down that rabbit-hole, Mung?

    Mung, If you don’t know what viruses are perhaps taking some time and learning what they are might be prudent before commenting any further.

  6. Mung:

    Are you the one who claimed that exo-nucleases are out-side the cell? That has to be right up there with the most ignorant claims I’ve ever seen here at TSZ.

    But you didn’t make that claim, right?

    Oh no, I made that claim and admitted my mistake and corrected it if you recall.

    Unlike your claim of the objective reality that ALL vertebrates use hemoglobin to supply oxygen to their cells….remember that, Mung. Or are you going to claim you never made that claim. Upright Biped bailed on you with that bit of nonsense if you recall.

  7. Mung:
    What is the operational definition of a virus?

    Mung if you don’t know what a virus is why continue down the rabbit hole. I’m embarrassed for you.

  8. Flint: I think the problem lies in the elusive “definition” of life. As far as I know, every proposed definition is fit by something clearly not alive, or can’t be fit by something that seems quite alive indeed.

    Well that was what I was hoping the discussion might be about.

  9. Mung

    If I were properly skeptical I’d deny that viruses actually exist, lol! I’ve certainly never seen one.

    Are your cats vaccinated, Mung? If yes, and I imagine that will be your answer since from previous posts you seem to care for your cats, why do you bother at all if your proper skepticism tells you viruses, and the diseases they cause, don’t exist?

  10. Mung,

    Is it just me, or is the assertion that a virus has a life-cycle worthy of skepticism?

    [Mungmode]

    Indeed, since viruses lack the legs and feet necessary to pedal.

    [/Mungmode]

  11. Mung,

    There are many theories of evolution. That’s what I mean if I ever claim there is no “theory of evolution.”

    So you find it too much trouble to insert a qualifier that would resolve the tendency in many English speakers’ minds to read ‘no’ as intending ‘not any’?

  12. There appears to be a fundamental potential for confusion between history and process. When asked, those prepared to say something more than ‘how can I articulate something that does not exist?’ have said that ‘many theories of evolution’ means the existence of unresolved or controversial nodes – a matter of correct evaluation of phylogenetic history.

    One could indeed argue that each possible tree generated during the run of a phylogenetic analysis program is itself a ‘theory of evolution’. It is a hypothesis about the branching order, and a set of such hypotheses is tested against each other looking for the ‘most likely’ (gosh, another a statement about relative probabilities that does not provide the prior. Mung! Mung! Over here!).

    But that is not what I mean when I talk of ‘theories of evolution’.

  13. BK: Unlike your claim of the objective reality that ALL vertebrates use hemoglobin to supply oxygen to their cells….remember that, Mung. Or are you going to claim you never made that claim

    I don’t recall ever making such a claim.

  14. BK: Unlike your claim of the objective reality that ALL vertebrates use hemoglobin to supply oxygen to their cells….remember that, Mung. Or are you going to claim you never made that claim.

    Any plans to demonstrate that I ever actually made such a claim?

  15. Have you wondered yet, Alan, what Prof. Moran could possibly mean by which version of evolutionary theory someone is defending?

    Is it possible that you are defending one version of evolutionary theory, but that there are others?

  16. Andreas Wagner is the author of the book The Origins of Evolutionary Innovations . Apparently Darwin’s own theory was insufficient.

    The subtitle is, “A Theory of Transformative Change in Living Systems.”

    Is it a theory of evolution? Is it an evolutionary theory? Perhaps it is THE theory of evolution. What do you think Alan and Allan?

    Just another theory of evolution.

  17. We cannot build classifications “on the world,” but only on what we know about the world. And what we purport to know about the world is contained in our best theories. As it happens, our best theories about patterns of nature are evolutionary theories.

    – Beatty, J. 1982. Classes and cladists.

    meh. theories.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.