Monday, March 23, 2009

Just Another One of the Boyz in the Banned...

Just a quick note to say that I have apparently once again been "moderated" off of the threads at Uncommon Descent. Apparently my comments were cutting a little too close to the bone. One could almost say I'd been Expelled (No intelligence Allowed)...

And to Timaeus and others from UD: I will be indirectly responding to some of the posts at Uncommon Descent here (time and weather permitting, of course).

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At 4/02/2009 05:48:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Allen,

Speaking of UD, a comment by a regu;ar there by the name of "jerry" caught my eye:

Another form of gradualism has replaced Darwin’s gradualism among Darwin’s original ideas. Namely, Gould’s gradualism. The biggest proponent here of this is Allen MacNeill who claims, and I believe he is correct, to know what most current evolutionary biologists believe. Gould’s gradualism is not changes to the current species by small changes in the allele frequency of a population but rather changes that happen out of sight in unused parts of the genome. A very small number of these changes suddenly become functional and this is when a new species or genera are born. This is the essence of punctuated equilibrium.

Almost none of this strikes me as true (I'm familiar with Gould and Eldredge's original papers). He seems to attribute it to you. Surely he has misinterpreted you. Do ypou have any idea where he got this from?

Dave Wisker

At 4/02/2009 06:17:00 PM, Blogger Allen MacNeill said...

Hi, Dave:
Nope, I haven't got a clue as to where "jerry" got that idea. I have commented several times on both punctuated equilibrium and evo-devo at UD, but in no case that I can remember did I ever suggest that the mechanism involved the activation of currently "unused" (unexpressed?) parts of the genome.

Indeed, I think it much more likely that the kinds of rapid evolutionary change that Eldredge and Gould described in their theory of punctuated equilibrium would have come about by changes in homeotic gene regulation. Another possibility is shifts in the developmental programs of organisms as the result of environmental changes, as described by Mary Jane West-Eberhard. However, neither of these are remotely like "activation of unused 'genes'".


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